Billiards vs. Pool

Many people consider billiards and pool is the same thing because casually both games appear to be same. While playing both games, a player uses a long stick with a white tip (also known as cue stick) and strikes the ball. However, there are many differences between them from the number of balls, pockets, table size to cue stick size.

One key difference between them is the number of balls used. In billiards, we use only three balls (yellow, white, and red) where both the white and the yellow ball act as the striker. On the other hand, in pool, the number of balls can change depending on the variant of the game however a full set of sixteen balls can be used (eight balls of solid color numbered one to eight seven balls with a striped of color numbered nine to fifteen, and a last solid white cue ball).

Other differences between them are described below;

Comparison Chart

Billiard Pool
Definition According to Billiard Congress of America, back to the 15th century, the concept of the billiard game was taken from the lawn game similar to croquet The history of this game goes back to the 18th century when gamblers went to poolrooms to bet on horse races.
Size of Table The surface area of the billiard table is roughly around five feet by ten feet Pool tables are smaller than the billiard tables and are roughly measure around three and a half feet by seven feet
Table Cloth A billiard table’s surface is made up of 100% worsted wool, which is smooth and wrinkle-free compact fabric helps in moving the balls more swiftly on the table The cloth used in covering the surface of the pool table is rough and makes the movement of balls slower
Pockets Billiard tables do not have pockets The principal difference between billiards and pool is the presence of the six pockets (four in each corner and two halfway on each of the rail’s long sides)
Number of Balls Billiards uses only three balls (white, yellow, and red) where white and yellow balls known as the striker ball In the pool, the number of balls used is anywhere in between nine to fifteen depending on the type of game you are playing
Size of Ball In billiards, there are slightly larger balls and are around 61.5 mm in diameter Pool balls are smaller in size and are around 57mm in diameter
Rack No racks are used while playing billiard In the pool, there is a rack that helps in arranging the ball in a triangular shape
Cues The cue sticks used in billiards are shorter, thicker, and taper The cue sticks used in the pool are long, slender, and lean
Goal The main objective of billiards is to score the fixed number of points or else score the highest points that are agreed upon at the beginning of the game The goal of the pool is to hit the other balls by hitting the cue ball and pocket them in specific groups or a specific order
Popular Game Three cushion billiards Eight-ball

What is Billiards?

“Billiard is a game usually for two people, played on a rectangular table with a designated number of three balls and a long stick called the cue.”

History of Billiards

Back to the 15th century in Northern Europe, billiards was played as a lawn game similar to the croquet. Years later, the game moved indoors played on a wooden table with green cloth to simulate grass and a simpler border around the edges.

The word “Billiard” is originated from the French word “billart” known as “mace.” The popularity of this game reached new heights in the early 1800s when people from all walks of life played this game and called it “The Noble Game of Billiards”.

Many countries such as France, Italy, Spain, England, and China have claimed for the invention of this game, but in reality, there is no evidence about the origin of billiards.

The Billiard Table

The main equipment required to play billiards is,

  • Table
  • Cue sticks
  • Balls

Tables are rectangular and are generally made up of wood and synthetic materials. The whole surface of the table is covered by a woven woolen cloth, known as felt while the inner edges of the table are angled and are made up of hardened or synthetic rubber, known as cushions.

The cue is a long tapered rod of polished wood ranging in length from about 40 – 60 inches. The small end of the cue is fitted with a plastic, ivory, or fire reinforcement tip.

Carom, French, or English Billiard

Carom billiards is played on a table that is five by ten feet and has no pockets. The game is played with three balls, two white and one red, with one of the white balls having a small red dot to distinguish it. The plain white ball serves as the cue ball while the red ball serves as the object ball. The object of this game is to hit the cue ball so that it hits the two object balls in succession which will count as one point.

English billiards is played on a relatively large table that is usually six by twelve feet. The game is played with three balls same as in carom (a plain white ball, a white ball with a spot, and a red ball). There are three ways of scoring in it,

  • The losing hazard

Also called a loser, is a stroke in which the striker’s cue ball is pocketed after hitting another ball.

  • The winning hazard

Also called pot, is a stroke in which a ball other than the striker’s cue ball is pocketed after hitting another ball.

  • The cannon

Also called as carom, is a scoring sequence in which the striker’s cue ball contacts the other two balls successively.

What is Pool?

“It is one of the types of cue sports played on a table with six pockets along the rails to keep the balls from falling off.”

History of Pools

The word “pool” means a collective bet or ante is an indoor game that was initially known as “pocket billiards”.

The history of pool goes back to the 18th century when players enjoyed the game in pool rooms used as a betting parlor for horse racing. Later on, pool tables were constructed so that patrons could pass the time between races. At that time the game got recognized as a sport for rich and redefined people.

The Pool Table

The main equipment used in the pool game differs from that used in carom billiards. For example, it is played on a six-pocket table and the balls used are smaller. Two sets of balls are used in this game, one is coloured and the other is striped.

Pool tables come in different sizes of nine feet, eight feet, and seven feet in length.

Key Differences between Billiards and Pool

  1. Billiards dates back to the 15th century while pool which was known as pocket billiard dates back to the 18th
  2. The table size of the billiards game is larger and is usually around five by ten feet while the table size of the pool game is smaller and is usually around three and a half feet by seven feet.
  3. The number of balls used in billiards is usually three while the number of balls used in pool range from one to fifteen depending on the game type.
  4. The cue sticks used in billiards are short, thick, and taper while the cue sticks used in the pool are long, slender, and lean.
  5. In billiards, the player does not use racks while playing whereas, in the pool, the player uses a rack that arranges the ball in a triangular shape.


Billiards and pool come under the category of cue sports are indoor games played on tables with cues and balls. The size of the table, balls, and cues used in both of these games are different. The tables and balls used in billiards are larger than those used in the pool while the cues used in billiards are shorter and thicker than those used in the pool.

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