What is the Difference Between Pool and Billiards? Find Out Now!

What’s the Difference?

Pool vs. Billiards: What's the Difference?

When it comes to cue sports, the terms “pool” and “billiards” are often used interchangeably, but they actually refer to different games with distinct characteristics. So, what is the difference between Pool and Billiards? At Billiards Pro, I’m here to shed light on the disparities between the two, helping you understand the nuances that set them apart.

Table Size and Number of Balls

In terms of table size and the number of balls used, pool and billiards differ significantly. Pool tables are typically smaller, measuring 7, 8, or 9 feet in length, while billiards tables are much larger, usually around 10 feet in length. Additionally, the number of balls used in each game varies. Pool utilizes 16 balls, including the cue ball, while billiards is played with only 3 balls: one white cue ball and two object balls.

Cue Sticks and Tips

The cue sticks used in pool and billiards also exhibit differences. Pool cues are generally shorter and lighter, designed for precise control and maneuverability in the smaller playing area. On the other hand, billiards cues are longer and heavier, allowing players to generate more power and accuracy in their shots. Furthermore, the tips of the cues vary, with pool cues featuring a softer leather tip for better grip on the cue ball, while billiards cues have a harder tip for more precise striking of the larger object balls.

Game Rules and Objectives

The rules and objectives of pool and billiards diverge as well. In pool, the primary objective is to pocket all of one’s designated balls (stripes or solids) and then sink the 8-ball to win the game. Conversely, billiards, also known as carom billiards, focuses on caroms, which occur when the cue ball strikes both object balls in a single shot. Players aim to score a set number of caroms before their opponent to secure victory.

Types of Shots

The types of shots executed in pool and billiards also showcase disparities. In pool, players commonly employ a variety of shots, including bank shots, combination shots, and jump shots, to strategically pocket their balls. In contrast, billiards emphasizes precision and control, with players executing intricate carom shots that require a deep understanding of angles and ball movement.

Popular Variations of Pool and Billiards

Both pool and billiards boast a multitude of popular variations that cater to different skill levels and preferences. Some well-known pool variations include 8-ball, 9-ball, and straight pool, each with its own set of rules and strategies. On the other hand, billiards encompasses diverse disciplines such as three-cushion billiards, balkline, and artistic billiards, each presenting unique challenges and techniques.

Which One Should You Play?

Which One Should You Play?

Ultimately, the choice between pool and billiards boils down to personal preference and playing style. If you enjoy a fast-paced game with a focus on pocketing balls and strategic positioning, pool may be the ideal choice for you. Conversely, if you prefer a game that demands precision, finesse, and mastery of ball control, billiards could be the perfect fit.

Here’s a comparison table highlighting the key differences between pool and billiards:

Feature Pool Billiards
Number of Balls Usually 16 balls (1 cue ball, 15 object balls) Typically 3 balls (1 red, 1 white, 1 yellow)
Table Size Smaller tables, often 7, 8, or 9 feet Larger tables, commonly 10 feet and above
Game Variations Numerous variations (8-ball, 9-ball, straight pool, etc.) Limited variations (e.g., three-cushion billiards)
Pocket Style Pockets are wider, and the game involves sinking balls into pockets No pockets; points are scored by caroming off cushions
Cue Usage Players use a cue stick to strike the cue ball Players use a cue stick to strike the cue ball
Object of the Game Sinking designated balls to score points or following specific rules (varies by game) Scoring points through caroms and controlling the cue ball
Common Skill Levels Popular in recreational settings; various skill levels Often considered a more advanced game, requiring precision and strategy
Professional Leagues Well-established professional leagues (e.g., WPBA, BCA) Limited professional leagues; more common in a regional context
Commonly Played in Bars, pool halls, recreational spaces Specialized billiards clubs, high-end venues

It’s worth noting that the terms “pool” and “billiards” are often used interchangeably, and their meanings can vary regionally. In casual settings, “pool” can refer to any cue sport played on a rectangular table with pockets. In a stricter sense, “billiards” specifically refers to a carom game played without pockets.



In conclusion, the differences between pool and billiards are evident in various aspects, including table size, cue sticks, game rules, types of shots, and popular variations. By understanding these disparities, you can make an informed decision about which cue sport aligns with your interests and skills. Whether you gravitate towards the excitement of pool or the artistry of billiards, both games offer unique experiences that cater to a diverse range of players. So, grab a cue stick, chalk up, and embark on your cue sport journey with confidence!


  • Is pool and billiards the same thing?

    In its original use, billiards refers to any type of cue sport, including carom billiards, pool, and snooker. On the other hand, pool specifically refers to a game played on a pool table. Traditionally, billiards tables do not have pockets.

  • Should I say pool or billiards?

    Although the terms ‘billiards’ and ‘pool’ are often used interchangeably, the two do not mean the same thing. ‘Billiards’ was originally a term to describe a game called ‘carom billiards’ exclusively, but has since evolved into a general term to describe a variety of games played on a table with balls and a cue stick.

  • Why do we call billiards pool?

    Somewhere around the mid 19th century, gamblers used to pool their money on horse races at certain betting locations. These locations generally had billiard tables installed in them, which were then called ‘pool-rooms’. Over time, this term got refined to ‘pool’, which then became synonymous for the game itself.

  • Is there a difference between billiards and 8-ball pool?

    The game of pool is different from carom billiards in that it is played on a billiards table with pockets — six to be exact. This has also earned it the nickname ‘pocket billiards.’ Instead of three balls as with billiards, players use between 8 and 15 object balls.

Originally posted 2023-11-14 05:25:20.

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