Pool, snooker or billiards? Which is better? There’s only one way to find out……FIGHT!
Actually, and this might rock your world just a tiny bit, snooker and pool are both billiard games. Billiards is not a game in its own right, but a term used to describe a ball and cue sport. Pool tables and snooker tables are both types of billiard table.
Now if you’ve recovered from the shock, it’s time to move onto the real question: What is the difference between a pool table and a snooker table?
In the beginning there was billiards, a complicated game with far too many rules. At some point in the 19th century gentlemen decided that they didn’t want to tax their brains so harshly during their post-dinner socializing so they set about simplifying the game. The result was two different games, invented at roughly the same time, ‘pocket billiards’ or ‘pool’ and ‘snooker’.
In snooker you are aiming to pot all the balls, in pool you should only pot your own balls, plus the black. In both games the players take turns in taking a shot. If they make the pot, they take another shot, but if they miss it’s the next player’s turn.
For both games you need balls, cues and a table. Pool uses bigger cues and bigger balls, but pool tables are smaller than snooker tables. Traditionally all billiard tables were green, but pool tables come with a variety of differently coloured felts. Pool tables have less smooth felts, as the increased friction makes for a slower, more easily controlled game. When playing pool, the most assistance you can get is from a little extra chalk on your cue, whereas the size of the snooker table sometimes necessitates the use of cue extensions and rests.
Although both games evolved from traditional billiards, they were invented for different purposes. Snooker was created as a slow paced game of strategy to be enjoyed over genteel conversation. Pool was developed as a fast-paced betting game to be played at off-track betting parlours between races.
Pool is considered the easier game to play making it more fun to play on a casual basis without practice or preparation. It also lends itself quite well to betting, and to playing in teams, which works well when one pool table is being shared between a group of friends.
Numbered Snooker Balls?
Just to add a little confusion into the mix, let’s look at American snooker. If you’ve spotted a billiard game with coloured balls bearing white dots and numbers in the centre, it would be a fair guess that they are pool balls. But you’d be wrong. In American snooker the balls are tiny bit bigger than British snooker balls, but not as big as pool balls, and the coloured balls are numbered. Besides the size, you can tell the difference between pool and American snooker balls by the numbering convention. In pool the black ball is worth ‘8’, but in snooker it bears the number ‘7’. In snooker the red ball has no number, but in pool it is labelled ‘7’.
Consider your education on the evolution of billiards complete. The next time you come across a numbered ball you’ll be able to confidently identify the game and its origins.