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  • What is the Difference Between Billiards, Pool, and Snooker?

    billiards, pool & snooker - LegacyBilliards.Com

    Although the terms ‘billiards’ and ‘pool’ are often used interchangeably, the two do not mean the same thing. ‘Billiards’ was originally a term to describe a game called ‘carom billiards’ exclusively, but has since evolved into a general term to describe a variety of games played on a table with balls and a cue stick. While carom billiards and pool are often played with similar equipment, each game is different and thus has different rules. Likewise, snooker is also a game played with similar equipment, yet has its own set of rules.

    Ball Differences

    One key difference is in the number of balls used. Snooker uses twenty-two balls, including a white ball known as the ‘striker’ ball. The other balls used are fifteen red balls, and one each of yellow, brown, blue, pink, black and green. Each ball is 2/16 inches in diameter. Billiards, on the other hands, uses only three balls: one each of white, yellow, and red, with both the white and the yellow able to act as the striker ball. The balls are 2 7/16 inch diameter. In pool, the number of balls can change depending on the variant of the game, however a full set of balls consists of sixteen balls, each 2 1/4 inches in diameter: eight balls of solid color numbered one to eight, seven balls with a stripe of color numbered nine to fifteen, and a solid white ‘cue’ ball.

    Table Differences

    Most carom billiards and pool games are played on either a seven-foot table (also known as a bar table), eight-foot table (sometimes called a home or recreational table), or nine-foot table (known as a pro or tournament table). Carom billiard tables do not have pockets, whereas pool tables have pockets. For snooker, pocketed tables are used. American tables are typically ten-foot tables, and English snooker tables are massive twelve-foot tables.

    Rules Differences

    Of course, each game has a comprehensive list of rules, including a number of variations. The main idea in a game of carom billiards games is to score points, called ‘counts’, by bouncing one's own ball, called a cue ball, off of the other two balls on the table.

    In snooker, the games are organized into frames. The player can win a frame by scoring the most points, using the cue ball to pocket the red and colored balls. The red balls are each worth one point, whereas the yellow is worth two points, the green three points, the brown four points, the blue five points, the pink six points, and the black seven points. Rules govern which ball can be pocketed at on a given turn. Balls that may be pocketed on any given turn are the “on” balls. For example, if a red ball is pocketed, this must be followed by a colored ball, which must in turn be followed by a red ball. If the wrong ball is pocketed, this is considered a ‘foul’ and the player does not receive points for pocketing the ball.

    There are many games that can fall under the umbrella of ‘pool’, however in straight pool, players can score points by shooting the balls into the table’s pockets (called ‘pocketing’ the ball). Before the game, players agree to reach a certain number of points to be declared the winner (a typical game is one hundred points, whereas a professional game is usually one hundred fifty points). Players can pocket any ball on the table, and each successfully pocketed ball awards the player one point.
    Straight pool is a ‘call-pocket’ game, meaning players must declare which ball they intend to go in which pocket before shooting. For the shot to be successful, the intended ball must reach the intended pocket.

  • What Size of Pool Table Should I Buy?

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    When purchasing a new pool table, there are several things to consider with regards to size.  Even if the table will fit comfortably inside the room, there must be adequate room around all sides of the tables for players to shoot.  You should consider what size of cues you plan to use, and whether the table will be used by adults or children.  You may also wants some room for a rack or cabinet to store additional cues and balls.

    Generally speaking, 8’ tables (8’ x 4’) are considered ‘professional’ size, whereas 7’ tables (7’ x 3’6”) are considered ‘bar’ size. Most pool table buyers will opt for the larger size if they have the space available, as the larger table provides a better playing experience.  A 7’ table is not only better suited for smaller rooms, but if you’re someone who regularly plays pool in a bar, you might want to play on the same size playing field when practicing at home.  Using standard 58” pool cues, an ideal room size for an 8’ table would be 13’ 2” x 16’ 10”.  For a 7’ table, the ideal room size would be 12’ 9" x 16’.  Using smaller pool cues, such as those of 52” or 48” in length, is an option if your room has any ‘tight’ spots around it.

    If the pool table will be in a basement, you’ll need to consider any poles or support beams that may obstruct play.  The breaking end of the table should be positioned away from the support beam, in a manner where the beam disrupts play as little as possible.  While not ideal, some pool table owners have their table positioned next to the middle of one of the side rails.  If a shot is completely obstructed, a ‘house’ rule may be implemented, allowing the player to move the ball into a better position for shooting.

    If you have the funds available, if you have adequate space (a room with dimensions around 13’ 8” x 17’ 10”), and if you are serious about developing your skills, you may want to consider a 9’ (9’ x 4’6”) table.  This table is more challenging to play on. While the game might be more difficult at first, once you’ve grown accustomed to playing on a table of this size, standard 8’ tournament tables will seem easy by comparison.

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