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Is It Called Pool Or Billiards?

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Have you ever gone to play pool, and someone said it was called billiards? Maybe you called it billiards and someone called it pool. Many people have this problem and no one is giving the correct answer. Well, in this article we will give you the correct answer and answer all of your questions about pool and billiards. 

So is it called pool or billiards?

Although there is a lot of confusion about pool and billiards, billiards is actually any game that is a cue sport. Pool is simply one of the many games in the billiard category. This is why many people will interchange the name of pool and billiards. 

If you want to know more about pool and billiards, you will want to keep reading. You can also check out this video to learn the difference between pool and billiards.  

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What are cue sports?

You have probably seen on television or in real life, the game where people aim round small balls with a stick and spend considerable amounts of time thinking about what angle to take the shot from. Well, these cue sports have a lot of variations but the most popular names that come up are Billiards and or Pool. There are many debates among players or those who pretty much take these games seriously, about the correct name.  

For a bit of background, both Pool and Billiard share the same core game model, and as a result, most people then confuse these games’ nomenclature. Despite the same origins, these two are so different. Each has its equipment used and rules that make the gameplay different and variable in the way it entertains. Both Pool and Billiards depend on high-quality table sets for the best gameplay, the most professional being made with the finest and smoothest felt surfaces. To illustrate the existing difference, there are even debates about which between Pool and Billiards require more skill. 

In some definitions, Pool is under Billiards as a subset. One particular definition says that, Billiards is the set of all games played indoors with spherical balls and cues on a flat and in most cases green, surface. The gameplay of these games generally revolves around driving the cue into a ball in a way, so that the struck ball may hit other balls to accomplish the various objectives of the specific game. With this definition, English Pool, American Pool, Snooker, and the various forms of carom or pocket-less tabled Billiards, are all considered Billiards.

The name pool is commonly used in the American demographic to mean all cue sports. In Europe, billiards is the common name of all cue sports. Another tricky variation is that in America they call all pocket-less tables varieties of games billiards, and in Europe, they call American cue games with pocket tables; pocket billiards. There are a lot of differences and similarities that come with the two names and as much as it is a somewhat broad topic, let’s explore the meanings behind the two names

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What is the history behind the two names

Billiards and pool share the same common history which is surprisingly rich and mostly happens in Europe. The game evolved in northern Europe during the 15th century from a lawn game similar to the croquet. In fact, the term billiard is delivered from “billart” which is French for wooden stick and “bille” meaning ball. The term pool is also thought to be a derivative of the French name “poule” (literally translated to hen in English) where the poule is the collective prize. Hence, pool initially was used in the sense of combining objects or stakes in the betting houses where this variation of billiards originated. The oldest use of the word pool describing this cue sport was in 1797 in a Virginia newspaper.

Billiards is historically referred to as a gentleman’s game and was developed in the 19th century as a game of skill for men that they played while enjoying cigars in private clubs. The game of Pool evolved out of Billiards and originally was considered to be a common man’s game due to its association with bars, horse racing betting halls and other forms of gambling.

What are billiards?

In most parts of the world, the term billiards refers to the cue games with pocket-less tables in general. This doesn’t contradict the use of the term Billiards by professionals to refer to some cue games played on pocket tables. Billiards thus is used in two major varieties, namely pocket billiards and carom Billiards. Examples of Billiard games are 3-cushion Billiards, Russian Billiards, snooker, Italian 5-pin, etc.

To be a little specific Billiards is also game on a table with no pockets. In the 3-cushion Billiards, the objectives involve moving the object balls around the table with the cue ball in a particular fashion. To score a point, the player has to hit the cue ball into an object ball, failing to bank the ball three times or striking the second object ball results into the end of the player’s inning.

What is Pool?

The Term Pool essentially is used for all pocket table games played with one white cue ball and fifteen balls color-coded solid and stripes. The most common variation of the Pool is the 8-ball variation. In this variation, we have 7 solid-colored balls, 7 striped balls, and a black 8-ball. The Pool game table has six straight-edged pockets and its average size is about 6 feet by 5 feet, which makes it smaller than the snooker table.

The Pool gameplay essentially consists of the player pocketing either the colored or striped balls, followed by pocketing the black 8-ball. The 8-ball variation remains the most played among cue sports. This is due to the popular opinion of the masses that it is slightly less complex than most Billiards and Pool variations, and still entertaining and interesting in its gameplay. Other examples of Pool are 9-ball, 14.1 also referred to as straight Pool and one pocket.


While you may be on a trip or in your local city, you will find bars and clubs dedicated to these cue games. It’s most likely that in your social setting if you are to be challenged to a cue game, it will be Pool. Billiards might mean Pool if the play table has pockets, but in places like the UK, it is most likely that the term is for a pocket-less table version.

This is why many people from all over the world use the name of pool and billiards as interchangeable. Since pool is technically a billiard sport as it is a cue sport, it is interchangeable and most people today simply call it pool. 

If you live in the United States, and do not travel abroad, most of the time you will never even hear the words billiards as Americans normally refer to pool as any cue game. This does not mean that some people are wrong and others are right. It simply means that there are different words in different parts of the world that mean the same thing. This is actually very common as Americans normally have one word that means something completely different in a different part of the world. 

No matter if you call it pool or billiards, the most important thing is that you have fun while you play the game, and that you practice playing the game properly and obeying the rules.