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What Is the Difference Between Billiards, Pool, and Snooker?

Updated: 4 days ago

Are you curious about the differences between billiards, pool, and Snooker? These terms are often interchanged, leading to confusion among non-professional players. In this blog post by Quedos, we'll explore the distinct qualities of these popular table sports. Let's unravel the unique aspects of billiards, pool, and Snooker, from cue sticks to tables and balls, to help you understand them better.

What is Billiards?

What is Billiards?

Billiards, also known as carom billiards, is a type of cue sport played on tables without pockets, using cue sticks. It's a straightforward game involving three balls: a red ball, a white ball with a spot, and a plain white ball. Its origins trace back to a lawn game akin to croquet in the 15th century, originally enjoyed by royalty and nobles. Over time, it evolved into an indoor game played on hardwood tables covered with green fabric resembling grass, earning its name "billiards" from the French word "billart." Cue sticks were introduced in the late 1600s, adding a new dimension to the game.

What is Pool?

What is Pool?

Pool is a type of cue sport played on a table with six pockets along the rails. Players use cue sticks to hit balls into these pockets. Typically, pool involves one black ball, seven yellow balls, seven red balls, and a white cue ball, but variations exist depending on the game.

Interestingly, the history of pool traces back to 18th-century gamblers who used poolrooms to bet on horse races, as gambling on races was forbidden. The term "pool" originated from the communal betting pool created in these rooms.

What is Snooker?

What is Snooker?

Snooker is a popular cue sport played on a six-pocket table using cues. Unlike billiards and pool, Snooker uses fifteen red balls, six colored balls, and one cue ball, all larger than traditional pool balls. What sets Snooker apart is its unique gameplay, where three balls can be used as a striker to hit others, unlike billiards, where only the cue ball can be used. Originating in 1875, Snooker was born from Lieutenant Neville Chamberlain's idea to add colored balls to the game "black pool." Hence, the game earned its name "snooker" from the term used for newcomers at the Royal Military Academy.

The Key differences between Billiard, Pool, and Snooker

1. Rules

Every game has a clear set of rules and offers several different versions.

In billiards, you aim to score points, known as counts, by bouncing the white and yellow cue balls off the other two balls already on the table. This game is typically played between two individuals or teams, and the objective is to earn as many points as possible. The starting player or team is determined by stringing, which can follow an imaginary line (head string) or be based on previous wins (scoring string).

Playing pool involves scoring points by putting balls into the table's pockets. Players decide in advance the number of points needed to win, typically 100 points for regular games and 150 points for professional ones. Any ball can be potted, with each successful pot earning one point. In straight pool, a "call-pocket" game, players must specify which ball will go into which pocket before taking a shot. The shot is only valid if the intended ball lands in the intended pocket.

Snooker is a challenging game that requires skill to master. In each game, called a frame, players aim to score the most points by pocketing red and colored balls using the cue ball. Red balls are worth one point, while colored balls range from two to seven points. The rules dictate which ball can be pocketed on a turn, known as the "on" ball. Mastering these rules and techniques is critical to success in Snooker.

2. Table

Most pool and billiards games are played on different-sized tables:

  • A seven-foot table (bar table)

  • An eight-foot table (home or recreational table)

  • A nine-foot table (pool or tournament table)

Billiards tables don't have pockets, while pool tables do. On the other hand, Snooker tables are larger and lower than pool tables, with smaller pockets. A standard UK snooker table typically measures 12ft x 6ft.

3. Balls

Snooker involves playing with twenty-two balls, including a white striker ball, fifteen red balls, and one each of yellow, brown, blue, pink, black, and green. These balls are 2 1/16 inches in diameter. In contrast, billiards use only three balls: white, yellow, and red, with the white and yellow balls serving as strikers. These balls have a diameter of 2 7/16 inches. Pool games use a set of sixteen balls, each 2 1/4 inches in diameter, comprising solid colored balls numbered one to eight, striped balls numbered nine to fifteen, and a white 'cue' ball.

4. Cues

Carom billiard cues are slightly shorter and thicker at the tip than pool cues, even more so than snooker cues. However, the exact dimensions can vary based on player preference. Typically, personal carom and pool cues are joined halfway through. In contrast, snooker cues have a 2/3 shaft and 1/3 butt configuration, requiring a larger carrying bag. Carom cue ferrules and tips usually range from 13.5 to 14.5 mm in diameter, whereas pool tips measure 12.5 to 13.5 mm, and snooker tips measure around 10.5 to 11.5 mm in diameter.


In conclusion, while billiards, pool, and Snooker are all cue sports played on a table with balls and a cue stick, they each have distinct characteristics that set them apart. Billiards is the umbrella term for all cue sports, while pool and Snooker are specific variations. Pool is typically played on smaller tables with pockets, using colored and numbered balls, whereas Snooker is played on larger tables with smaller pockets and more balls, including red and colored balls. Understanding these basic differences can help you appreciate the intricacies of each game and enjoy them to the fullest.

More From Maria Azalea

Author: Maria Azalea

Author: Maria Azalea

Maria Azalea is the Founder and CEO of Maximilliano Gameroom, an online platform dedicated to providing high-quality pool tables and exceptional customer service. With a commitment to continuous improvement, customer satisfaction, humility, innovation, and integrity, Maria leads her team with a clear vision. Her goal is to establish Maximilliano Gameroom as one of the nation's premier billiard companies, recognized for its outstanding products and customer support. Maria's drive to enhance the customer experience and improve satisfaction fuels her passion for excellence in the industry.


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