What is the Difference Between Pool and Billiards

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Pool and billiards seem to be quite similar but they vary based on the number of balls, cue stick size, pockets and other several factors. Some people use the term pool and billiards interchangeably. While this isn’t completely incorrect, pool is a type of billiards game. So, what is the difference between pool and billiards?

This article points out the differences as well as similarities between pool and billiards. The post identifies the main differences between these similar cue sports.

What is the Difference Between Pool and Billiards

Billiards uses 3 balls and is played on a table that has no pockets. The three balls include one white ball without a spot, one white ball with a  spot and one red ball.

Pool is played on a 6-pocket table with 9-15 object balls and a cue ball. The type of pool you’re playing determines the number of balls in the game.


Professional billiard companies say the term billiards refers to a wide variety of games that are played on a pocketed table with a cue stick. The What is the Difference Between Pool and Billiardsoriginal name for billiards is “Carom billiards”, many other types of games fall within the billiards category, collectively called “cue sports.” Billiards or cue sports, include all sports that are played with billiard balls and a cue stick on top of a table covered in cloth with rubber or leather borders. Billiards are divided into 3 sub-categories; pool (pocket billiards), snooker or carom billiards.


As mentioned above, the pool is a type of billiards game. The term pool is often used to refer to pocket billiards – billiards games that use pockets. The original term used for the game was pocketed billiards. 

Back in the 1700s, gamblers would go to pool rooms to bet on horse races. The money would be “pooled” into a large pot. In a bid to ward off suspicion, pocketed billiards were often used in poolrooms. As such, gamblers would play casually as they would be waiting for the results of the horse races. And that’s how the pool table received its name, as a short form for pool rooms.

Tare many different types of pool including the most popular 8 ball, 9 ball, one pocket pool and straight pool. Pool tables will usually have 6 pockets. Pool balls are a standard 2 1/4” inches in diameter.

Pool tables are at least 3.5’ by 7’ while billiard tables are relatively larger. The minimum size of a billiards table is 5’ by 10’.  The cues used to play pool are usually longer and have a thinner shaft compared to billiard cue sticks which are smaller but have a shorter ferrule and thicker butt that makes them taper faster. They also have a small tip and a wooden pin joint.

Bottom LineWhat is the Difference Between Pool and Billiards

So, what is the difference between pool and billiards? The short answer is that they differ based on the size of the cue stick, table size, number of balls and other factors. Although they’re both played on a cloth-covered table and are closely related, they’re distinctly different types of cue sports.

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