What Is The Difference Between A Billiard Table And A Pool Table

  • By: Tim
  • Time to read: 5 min.

In the world of cue sports, the terms ‘billiard table’ and ‘pool table’ are often used interchangeably. However, there are distinct differences between the two that every enthusiast should be aware of.

While both involve a felt-covered playing surface and the use of cue sticks, the size, dimensions, and rules of the games vary significantly. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for players to fully enjoy and excel in either billiards or pool.

Let’s dive deeper into the contrasting characteristics of these two beloved pastimes.

Origins and History of Billiards and Pool

The origins and history of billiards and pool can be traced back to ancient Egypt. The evolution of billiards equipment has come a long way since then.

In the beginning, the game was played with sticks and stones on the ground. Over time, it progressed to a table with pockets, balls, and cues.

The game became popular in Europe during the 15th century, where it was played by royalty and the elite. Famous billiards and pool players emerged during this time, such as Willie Mosconi and Minnesota Fats. These players elevated the game to new heights and brought it into the mainstream.

As the popularity of billiards and pool grew, so did the demand for standardized table sizes and dimensions.

Table Size and Dimensions

Table size and dimensions for both billiard and pool tables vary depending on the game being played. The standard table size for a billiard table is 9 feet long, while a pool table can range from 7 to 9 feet in length.

The table surface material is another factor that distinguishes these two games. Billiard tables typically have a slate surface, which provides a smooth and consistent playing experience. On the other hand, pool tables often feature a synthetic cloth surface, which offers a bit more grip and control for the pool balls.

When it comes to table dimensions, the height remains the same for both billiard and pool tables at around 32 inches.

Now let’s move on to the number and type of balls used in these games…

Number and Type of Balls Used

Now let’s talk about the number and type of balls used in these games.

Billiards and pool both require a set of balls to be played. Generally, a billiard game is played with three balls, including one white cue ball and two object balls of different colors.

On the other hand, pool games are played with a larger set of balls, typically 16 in total. This set includes one white cue ball, 15 object balls numbered from 1 to 15, and a black 8-ball.

The different types of cues used in these games allow players to execute various shots, such as striking the balls with different forces, spinning them, or making precise shots.

Understanding the number and type of balls used is essential for mastering cue stick and playing techniques, which we will delve into in the next section.

Cue Stick and Playing Techniques

Let’s take a look at how the cue stick is used and the various techniques players can employ during the game.

The cue stick is an essential tool in billiards and pool, allowing players to strike the cue ball and control its movement. The grip is crucial for accuracy and control. Players can choose between different grip styles, such as the closed bridge or open bridge, depending on their preference.

Advanced players can also utilize various trick shots to impress their opponents and gain an advantage. These shots include the masse shot, where the cue ball curves around an obstacle, or the jump shot, where the cue ball jumps over another ball.

Understanding these techniques and mastering the cue stick grip can greatly enhance a player’s performance.

Moving on to game variations and rules…

Game Variations and Rules

To fully understand the game variations and rules, you should familiarize yourself with the different ways players can score points and win the game. Here are three sub-lists to engage the audience:

  • Different game variations:
  • Eight-ball: The most popular variation, where players must pocket all of their designated balls (either stripes or solids) and then sink the 8-ball to win.
  • Nine-ball: Played with only the balls numbered 1-9, players must hit the lowest numbered ball first and continue in numerical order.
  • Straight pool: Players can shoot at any ball on the table and must reach a certain number of points to win.
  • Scoring system differences:
  • In eight-ball, players earn one point for each ball they pocket and two points for sinking the 8-ball.
  • In nine-ball, each ball pocketed counts as one point.
  • In straight pool, players accumulate points for each ball pocketed, with no limit on the number of shots taken.

Understanding these variations and scoring systems will enhance your enjoyment of the game and allow you to compete in different settings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are billiard tables and pool tables made from the same materials?

Billiard tables and pool tables are made from similar materials, such as wood and slate, but their construction differs. Billiard tables have larger dimensions and require more maintenance due to their professional use, while pool tables are more commonly found in recreational settings.

What is the average cost of a billiard or pool table?

The average cost of a billiard or pool table can vary depending on factors such as brand, size, material, and design. These factors play a significant role in determining the price of these tables.

Can you use the same type of cue stick for both billiards and pool?

Yes, the same type of cue stick can be used for both billiards and pool, although there are differences in cue stick length and the types of balls used in each game.

Is it possible to play different game variations on the same table?

On the same table, players can enjoy a variety of game variations, like billiards or pool. However, different game variations require specific equipment, such as different types of cues and balls, to accommodate the unique rules and gameplay.

How often should the cloth on a billiard or pool table be replaced?

The cloth on a billiard or pool table should be replaced every 3-5 years, depending on usage. To properly maintain the cloth, it’s important to brush it regularly and avoid spilling liquids or placing sharp objects on it.


In conclusion, the difference between a billiard table and a pool table lies in their origins, size, balls used, and playing techniques.

While both games have a rich history, billiards originated in the 15th century and pool in the 18th century.

The tables also differ in size, with billiard tables being larger.

Additionally, billiards uses three balls while pool uses 15.

Finally, the playing techniques and rules vary between the two games.

So next time you’re at a bar or a friend’s house, impress them with your knowledge of the differences between billiards and pool!

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