Snooker Vs. Pool Vs. Billiards: What’s The Difference?

winchester room pool table

Whether you’re an avid billiards player or just a beginner, you’re about to learn a few surprising facts about the difference between snooker vs. pool vs. billiards. 

Most people know that snooker is different from pool, however, people tend to use the words pool and billiards interchangeably. The truth is, the term billiards refers to a family of games played with a cue, balls and a table. This translates to the fact that there are three distinctly different games that have their own set of rules and equipment: Snooker, Pool and Billiards.

How to play Snooker

This is said to be one of the hardest games to play. The balls are slightly larger and the pockets are slightly smaller. This generally requires a higher level of skill to sink balls on a snooker table. 

How to set up Snooker table balls

Snooker table set up balls

How to win at snooker

The object of the game is to score the most points. Red balls are worth one point and coloured balls are worth more. Once all of the red balls have been pocketed, the player with the most points wins.

  • Yellow – 2 Points
  • Green – 3 Points
  • Brown – 4 Points
  • Blue – 5 Points
  • Pink – 6 Points
  • Black – 7 Points

The rules of snooker

You can check out this Reddit post on the rules of snooker here, or watch this 5-minute video on how to play snooker.

How to Play pool

Interestingly enough, the term “pool” came to be favoured over its original name “pocket billiards”. The word “pool” is actually short for poolrooms. It originated from the old days where people would gamble on horses, which was illegal in the 18th century. People would meet in a room and pool their money together. To justify this gathering and make it more inconspicuous, they would play pocket billiards while they waited for the results of the races. 

8-Ball Pool

Pool can be played in a variety of ways but the most popular game is 8-ball pool. 8-ball is where there are 15 balls on the table. The balls are racked in a triangle to start the game. There are 7 striped balls, 7 solid coloured balls and one black 8-ball. The colour for each player is determined by whoever sinks the first colour. Each player must sink all of his or her balls (stripes or solid) before sinking the 8-ball to end the game.

How to rack a triangle shape in an 8-ball pool game

9-Ball Pool

9-ball is another popular game played on a pool table. The balls are racked in a diamond shape to start the game. Each player must sink balls in the exact order of 1 through 9. The person who sinks the nine-ball wins the game.

How to rack a diamond shape in a 9-ball pool game

Here’s a 4-minute video on how to play 8-ball pool

How to play Billiards (Carom Billiards)

This is one of the first versions of billiards played and it’s believed that Pool and Snooker were derived from Carom Billiards. This version of billiards is played on a table with no pockets and uses three balls only; A white, yellow, and red ball. The yellow ball is sometimes substituted for a white ball with black dots on it.

Table set up for carom billiards or 3 cushion billiards

The object of the game is to score the most points. You score points by knocking both balls in one stroke. Sounds easy? Here’s where it gets tricky. To count as a point, your cue ball must hit three banks before hitting the second ball.

The player who reaches a predetermined score wins the game. This game is also referred to as 3-cushion billiards.

Pool tables vs. Snooker tables vs. Carom billiards table

Snooker is played on the largest table out of all three games. In North America snooker tables are 5’ X 10’ while in Europe it’s played on a 6’ X 12’ table.

While this dwarfs the bar size pool table, (coin-operated) which is 7’ X  3.5’, there are two larger pool table sizes. The tables that are most commonly in homes is 8’ X 4’ while official sized pool tables are 9’ X 4.5’

Difference between a pool table, carom billiards table and snooker table
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Carom billiards is played on a 4.7’x9.3’ or 5’x10’ table. Pocketless billiard tables are made with worsted wool, which plays much faster than the felt and nylon used on pool and snooker tables. 

The best quality tables are made with slate underneath for all three games. This provides the truest direction with the least deviations. It’s also the reason why pool tables are extremely heavy.

Amazingly enough, carom billiard tables play with heated slate (a requirement for official tournaments), which allows the ball to play even faster. This makes sense when you think about how the scoring works since the ball will travel a longer distance on a table that plays fast with the least amount of resistance.

Billiards vs. Snooker vs. Pool ball size

The size of billiard balls will vary in diameter and weight. Here is a quick glance comparison of the size of each ball:

different size of each type of billiard ball
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Snooker vs. pool cue

Difference between pool cue and snooker cue
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Snooker CuePool Cue
Cue TipBetween 9mm & 10.5mmBetween 12mm & 13mm
Cue WeightBetween 18 & 20ozBetween 19 to 21oz
Cue Size57-58 inches57-58 inches
Cue MaterialAsh WoodMaple Wood or Ash Wood

If you’re looking for top-quality pool tables, we got you covered. Visit our showroom or give us a call for the best selection of slate pool tables that will last a lifetime.


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