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People all over the world enjoy spending time playing cue sports, with pool being the most common version of this category of games played. That said, in different parts of the world, billiards and snooker are highly popular as well.
And yes, the three are not the same even though the terms – especially pool and billiards – are sometimes used interchangeably.
In this article, I’ll dive deeper into the differences between the three as well as into which of the three games is the best for you.
Cue Sports: The Basics
Before jumping into the differences and comparing the cue sports, let’s start by taking a look at each of the three sports being discussed in this article.
What Is Pool?
Without a doubt the most popular and most commonly plated cue sport is pool. Getting its origins from England before being brought over to the United States in the 1800s, pool has blossomed into the most popular tabletop cue sport in the world.
As many people are aware, pool is a tabletop game that involves six pockets along the outer edges of the table. While there are different variations of pool, they generally have the same concepts.
The players want to use their cues – or sticks – to strike the white cue ball into the other balls on the table. Depending on which version of the game is being played, the players try to hit certain balls into the table’s pockets in a specific order or manner. The first player to complete the object at hand wins the game.
Pool is popular among those in the general population all the way up to the professional level. Due to the ability to play with one, two, or four people and the relatively low maintenance once the table is set up in one’s home, it is a popular addition to a recreation room.
What Is Snooker?
Similar to pool in many ways, snooker is another tabletop cue sport that originated in England and was brought over to the United States in the late 1800s.
The gameplay follows many of the same aspects of pool including the use of cue sticks, a single cue ball, and the objective of hitting various balls into the pockets on the table. Just like on a pool table, the pockets are situated in the four corners and along the long sides of the table, so walking up to a game of snooker would largely seem familiar to someone who plays pool.
The objective in snooker varies from regular pool due to the differences in the balls themselves. Instead of having striped solid-colored balls like those used in pool, snooker uses red balls as the target balls and the objective is largely to pot — that is, get them into the pocket — more balls than your opponent does.
Snooker is also enjoyed from the recreational level up to the professional level, with the World Snooker Championship being played every year since 1927.
What Is Billiards?
The term billiards can often have quite a few different meanings depending on who is saying it and the environment around which the term is being used. To many, billiards simply refers to any tabletop cue sport, including both pool and snooker.
For this comparison, let’s take a look back at the historic game of billiards.
Originating from you know where, England, in the 1800s, billiards was developed as a gentleman’s game played by two people. A game of billiards doesn’t involve any pockets and the objective of the game is to strike your opponent’s cue ball instead of putting balls into the pocket.
As you may have gathered, this leaves billiards to be a fairly different game than the other two on this list, so let’s take a deeper look at some of these differences.
Pool vs. Snooker vs. Billiards: What Are the Differences?
Below are the three most important differences between the three games.
Of course, the biggest difference between cue sports is the objectives of the games. From the quick descriptions above, you probably noticed that pool and snooker have somewhat similar objectives even if the balls and style of play are slightly different. You want to use the cue ball to hit target balls into the pockets.
Billiards on the other hand doesn’t use pockets and employs more than one cue ball. The objective is to hit your cue ball into the target ball, which will then go strike your opponent’s cue ball.
The standard pool table is always rectangular with a 2:1 length to width ratio. This means that a normal size for a pool table would be something like 9 x 4.5 feet. Billiards tables will be similar to a pool table in terms of size.
That said, a snooker table is quite a bit larger than either of the two, typically about 11.7 x 5.8 feet.
So if space in the room is a limit, then a snooker table may be out of the question!
The average pool table (and therefore also billiards table) will run between 1,500 and 3,000 dollars. The prices can vary widely depending on the make, the wood or material that is used, the effort required to assemble, and more.
Snooker tables can be of similar pricing or can run a bit more due to their size being substantially larger.
Which of the Three Should You Add to Your Rec Room?
Deciding on which cue sport to add to your rec room or your basement is a different decision for each situation. It will depend on what you enjoy playing, what you think your family and friends will enjoy, and how familiar you are with each of the games.
If you want to play it a bit safe, it may be good to go with a pool table and add a regular old pool to your rec room. This is because it is the most commonly played and enjoyed, so most people that come over to play it will already be familiar with the game and will understand the rules and objectives.
The bonus of going with a regular pool table is that it can also double as a snooker table if you purchase the right set of balls on the side!
Cue sports are a great way to bring friends and family together and some good, healthy fun.
No matter which version of the game you decide to go with, you’re sure to have a great time and you’ll be able to improve your skill with a bit of practice!