Billiards and pool are often used interchangeably because they’re games with similar-looking game equipment. However, they are two completely different games, which is evident in their tables. For non-professional players, this might be hard to see since they do have some similarities.
Billiard table vs pool table have striking differences and features, which we’ll discuss in this article. We’ll also describe what billiards and pool are to help you understand how these games are different. This way, it’d be easier for you to notice which is which when you’re buying your own table.
What is Billiards and Pool?
Billiards refer to any tabletop game that’s played with a cue stick and cue ball. This means you can identify pool as a cue sport or game under billiards. It’s a game where you use only three balls with the goal to hit the white cue ball so it hits the others.
Pool, on the other hand, is a more specific billiard game that’s played with 8 to 15 cue balls. It’s even referred to as “Pocket Billiards” because of the difference in their tables. Unlike billiards, this is commonly played at bars or pubs and even at home.
Key Differences Between Billiard Table vs. Pool Table
Aside from the number of cue balls used, the main difference between the two is present on their tables. For your reference, here are the key differences between a billiard table and a pool table:
The most noticeable difference is the sizes of the tables. Billiard tables tend to be longer than pool tables, they can go between 10 to 12 feet long. On the other hand, the standard and regular-size pool tables are only between 6 and 9 feet long.
Billiard tables have different tabletop surfaces from pool tables. The felt of pool tables is designed to make the balls move slower, while the fabric on billiard tables makes the balls go faster. The common material used for billiard tables is worsted wool – a woven cloth called baize, while it’s wool-nylon blend for pool tables.
Traditionally, billiards tables do not have pockets. As such, the various games played on these tables are referred to as carom billiards or pocketless billiards. In contrast, pool tables, also known as pocket billiards tables, feature six pockets. These include pockets in each corner and one in the middle of each long side. This distinction is a very noticeable feature that sets pool tables apart from billiard tables. So, if you come across a table and are unsure whether it is for billiards or pool, you can simply check if it has pockets. Billiard tables do not have any pockets, whereas pool tables have six pockets where players aim to sink the balls during gameplay.
Because of the differences in the table construction between a billiard table and a pool table, the games you can play on them also differ. In billiards, you can play the following:
- Artistic billiards
- Straight rail
Meanwhile, popular games played on pool tables include:
- Straight pool
- Bank pool
Types of Cue Balls
Billiards and pool not only differ in the number of balls, but the construction of the balls is also different. Modern billiard balls are usually made of plastic and coated with a layer of resin. They’re also bigger in size than pool balls.
Pool cue balls, on the other hand, are usually made from layers of rubber and are covered with a layer of resin. The rubber layers offer cushioning when the balls hit the playing surface and also make it cheaper to produce the cue balls.
The cue, or the stick, used to play billiards and pool also differ. A pool cue is longer, with an average length of 57 to 59 inches in length, and has a thinner shaft. Meanwhile, a billiard cue is shorter, with an average of 54 to 56 inches in length, and has a thicker butt.
How to Play Billiards and Pool
If you plan on buying any of the two tables, it’s important that you know how to generally play each game. This is important, especially if you’re a complete beginner in both.
The goal in playing billiards is to get the most points and to score, you need to bounce the cue ball off the other two balls. There are three ways you can score points:
Cannon: You hit the cue ball to hit the other cue ball, and then hit the red ball next. This would give you two points.
Winning Hazard: You pot the red ball and get three points.
Losing Hazard: You hit the other cue ball which should hit the red ball and pocket the red ball. This would give you three points.
There are many ways you can play pool, mainly because it comes with more cue balls. That’s why it’s important to know about the rules of the specific game you want to play first. Generally, this is how you play pool:
- The player will make a ‘break’ or the first shot. This would determine the type of balls each player will need to pocket during the game to win.
- Depending on who won the break shot, you can get to play with either colored or striped cue balls.
- To win the game, you need to pocket the number 8 ball after pocketing all the other seven balls. But, there are also other ways for you to win:
- You win the game immediately if your opponent accidentally pots the 8 ball. This play is illegal.
- If the 8 ball is knocked off the pool table, you’ll also win.
However, the gameplay for straight pool or call-pocket is a little different. In this game, you can choose which ball you’ll pocket and you have to announce it before shooting. If you want to win, you should never pocket any other ball aside from the one you chose.
Billiards and pool are both classic games played with family and friends. However, many people get confused between the two and some think of them as the same, which is completely untrue. The main difference is between the billiard table vs pool table. Remember, billiards only uses three cue balls and its table has no pockets. Pool tables have six pockets and use more cue balls.
If you want to look for either a billiard or pool table, you can check out our billiard and pool table collection. We have all kinds of quality tables from top brands to ensure a great gaming experience with family and friends!