Difference Between Billiards Pool and Snooker

Billiards, pool, and snooker are three popular cue sports that are often confused with one another. While they share some similarities, there are several key differences between these games that set them apart. In this article, we will explore the nuances of each game to help you understand difference between billiards pool and snooker .

Billiards, pool, and snooker all have a rich history that dates back to the 15th century. Billiards, also known as carom billiards, is the oldest of the three games and is played on a table with no pockets. Pool, on the other hand, is played on a table with six pockets, and there are many variations of this game. Snooker, which was invented in India in the late 19th century, is played on a larger table with 22 balls and is known for its complex rules.

The purpose of this article is to provide you with a clear understanding of the differences between billiards, pool, and snooker. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, understanding the nuances of each game can help you improve your skills and enjoy the game even more. So, let’s dive in and explore the world of cue sports!

Difference Between Billiards Pool and Snooker

If you’re new to cue sports, you might be wondering what the difference between pool and billiards and snooker. While these games share some similarities, they each have their own unique characteristics. In this section, we’ll cover the basics of billiards, pool, and snooker, including their origins, table specifications, and gameplay.


Billiards is the oldest of the three cue sports and has been played for centuries. The word “billiards” comes from the French word “billiard” which means “mace.” Originally, billiards was played with a mace, which is a long, heavy stick with a curved end. Today, billiards is played with a cue stick and three balls: a red, a yellow, and a white ball.

Billiards is played on a table that has no pockets. The object of the game is to score points by hitting the opponent’s ball with your own ball and making it rebound off the rails and hit the third ball. This is known as a “carom.” There are several variations of billiards, including straight rail, cushion caroms, and three-cushion billiards.


Pool, also known as pocket billiards, is a popular cue sport that originated in the United States. It is played with a cue stick and a set of balls that are pocketed into six holes on the table. There are many variations of pool, including eight-ball, nine-ball, and straight pool.

Pool tables are smaller than billiards tables and have pockets. The dimensions of a pool table are typically 9 feet by 4.5 feet, but smaller tables for home use are also available. The pockets on a pool table are designed to be slightly larger than the balls, which makes it easier to pocket them.


Snooker is a cue sport that originated and is popular in the UK and other Commonwealth countries. It’s played on a table that is much larger than a pool or billiards table and has pockets that are narrower than those on a table.

Snooker is played with 22 balls, including a white “striker” ball, 15 red balls, and six balls of various colors. The object of the game is to score points by pocketing the red balls and then the colored balls in a specific order. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Equipment Differences

When it comes to equipment difference between billiards and snooker and pool all have their unique characteristics. Here’s a breakdown of the equipment differences between the three games.


Cues are an essential tool in billiards, pool, and snooker. The length and tip variations of the cues differ for each game. Snooker cues are typically lighter and have narrower tips than those used in pool, allowing for more precise control over the cue ball, which is essential for executing the game’s complex shots and spins.
Pool cues are generally more robust, with a broader tip to cater to the different striking techniques and strategies employed in the game.


The number of balls used is the main difference in billiards, pool, and snooker games.
Snooker uses a total of twenty-two balls of 2 1/16 inches in diameter, including a white ball, also called the striker ball, fifteen red balls and one each of yellow, brown, blue, pink, black, and green.
In contrast, pool uses sixteen balls, including a white cue ball and fifteen object balls. The object balls in pool are divided into two groups: solids and stripes.
Billiards, on the other hand, uses only three balls: a white, a red, and a yellow. The size, weight, and color scheme of the balls also differ between the three games, and the marking significance varies as well.


The tables used in billiards, pool, and snooker have distinct characteristics. Billiards tables like the American Heritage Billiards Table are larger than pool tables like the Playcraft pool table, measuring up to 10 feet in length. The surface material and underlay of the tables differ between the three games.

Cushion characteristics and pocket size also vary, with snooker tables having smaller pockets than pool tables.

Rules and Gameplay

Shot Techniques and Strategies

When it comes to shot techniques and strategies, each game has its own unique style. In billiards, players use techniques such as cannon, balkline, and cushion caroms to score points. In pool, players focus on break shots, jump shots, and safety play. And in snooker, players use strategies such as snookers, break-building, and ball-on advantage to gain an edge over their opponents.

Scoring Systems

The scoring systems of billiards, pool, and snooker are also different. In carom billiards, players earn points by making caroms, which is when the cue ball hits both object balls in a single shot. In pool, the winner of the game is determined by either “call pocket” or rotational play.

In “call pocket” play, players must call the pocket they intend to sink the ball in before taking their shot. In rotational play, players must sink all of the balls in a specific order.

And in snooker, each ball has a point value, and players score points by sinking balls in the correct order.

Cultural Impact and Competitions

Regional Dominance

Each cue sport has its unique cultural impact and regional dominance. Billiards is most popular in the United States, while pool is popular in the United States and Europe. Snooker, on the other hand, is most popular in the United Kingdom and China. The popularity of each game is influenced by factors such as history, tradition, and the availability of tables and equipment.

Major Tournaments and Titles

Each cue sport has its major tournaments and titles. In billiards, the most prestigious tournament is the World Three-cushion Championship, which is held annually. In pool, the most popular tournaments include the Mosconi Cup, the World Pool Masters, and the World Cup of Pool. In snooker, the most prestigious tournament is the World Snooker Championship, which is held annually at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, England.

Professional Scene

The professional scene for each cue sport differs in terms of global recognition and play style. Billiards and snooker have a more global reach, while pool is more popular in the United States and Europe.

Professional billiards and snooker players are typically more methodical and precise in their play style, while professional pool players tend to be more aggressive and strategic.

The top professional players in each cue sport are recognized globally and have significant fan followings.

Advanced Knowledge and Techniques

Cloth and Table Maintenance

To keep your billiards, pool, or snooker table in top condition, it’s important to follow best practices for table care specific to each game. This includes regular cleaning and maintenance of the cloth, rails, and pockets.

For example, in snooker, the cloth should be brushed in a specific pattern to maintain its nap and prevent ball skids. In pool, the cloth should be brushed in a circular motion to prevent ball marks.

Billiards tables require a specific type of cloth that is thicker and more durable than the cloth used in pool or snooker.

Training and Skill Development

To improve your game, there are drills and exercises unique to billiards, pool, and snooker that you can practice. For example,

  • In billiards, practicing carom shots can help improve your accuracy and control of the cue ball.
  • In pool, practicing bank shots can help you learn how to use the rails to your advantage.
  • In snooker, practicing long potting can help you improve your ability to sink balls from long distances.

Psychology of Play

The mindset and sports psychology applied to cue sports can also play a significant role in your success. Confidence, focus, and mental toughness are all important factors to consider when playing billiards, pool, or snooker.

It’s important to remain calm and focused under pressure, and to avoid getting too emotional or frustrated during a game. Visualization techniques can also be helpful in improving your performance on the table.


Whether you’re mastering the subtle carom shots of billiards, strategizing your next break in pool, or carefully potting the colors in snooker, remember this: the thrill of cue sports is universal. Different tables, different rules, but the same passion fuels us all. So, don’t get hung up on which is ‘best’ – embrace the variety and the unique skills each game demands.


What is a pool table without pockets called?

A carom billiards table.

Are billiards and pool the same thing?

No. Billiards is a broader term for games played on a pocketless table. Pool is a specific type of billiards game with pockets.

Is the cue ball smaller in snooker?

Yes, the cue ball in snooker is slightly smaller than the ones used in pool.

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