20+ Differences Between Billards And Pool (Explained)

Billiards and Pool are often used interchangeably, in fact, to the point that they are often looked at as one sport. From a layman’s perspective, it is quite understandable to overlook the details and look at both games as a sport that requires a board, cue sticks, and some balls.

It can be a bit disbelieving that billiards and pool are actually different. But looking at them does reveal some noticeable differences.

differences between billiards and pool

Comparison between Billiards and Pool

Popular VariantsThe various versions include Balkline, One-cushion, three-cushion, straight rail, and artistic billiards.Popular pool games include an eight-ball pool, nine-ball pool, blackball, straight pool, and bank pool.
ScopeBilliards as a term includes all cue sports, including pool. It primarily refers to carom billiards.Pool is a narrower term. Therefore, it does not include all cue sports but clearly defines all pool games.
Table SizeThe length of the table is 10 feet.The length of the table varies from 7 feet to 9 feet.
Surface TextureBilliards table uses pure worsted wool with no fuzziness, leading to a smoother surface.The pool table uses a wool-nylon material, and the surface is fuzzy on the top, making the surface rougher.
PocketsBilliards tables have none.There are six pool tables – four in the corners and two more on either side of the longer rails.
Cue SizeBilliards use 54-inch to 56-inch sticks.The pool uses 57-inch to 59-inch cues.
Cue TipsCue tips are larger in size.Cue tips are smaller in size.
Balls Used in PlayOnly three balls are used in play, with two of them as cue balls.Sixteen balls are in play, with only one cue ball, and the rest are object balls.
Ball SizeThe balls are 2.42 inches in diameter.The pool balls are 2.25 inches in diameter.
Ball WeightMaximum weight of the balls is about 7.8 ounces. Pool balls weigh about 6 ounces maximum.
RacksA game of billiards does not require racks.The pool uses a triangular or diamond-shaped rack.
How to WinThe winner has to reach the score as decided. The winner has to pocket all solids or stripes as selected and finally pocket the eight-ball.

The Major Differences between Billiards and Pool

What does Billiards refer to?

Billiards basically refers to Carom Billiards. The table on which it is played has no pockets/holes. To win a billiards game, the player has to collect points by hitting the balls. Carom Billiards is played with only three balls – one white, one yellow, and one red ball.

The white ball and the yellow ball are used as cue balls, meaning they are the ones used to take the shot. The red ball is the object ball, which the players target. The winning score is decided in advance, and the one who scores it first is the winner.

An important thing to note is that ‘billiards’ is a universal term as well – which means it takes into account all the cue sports, including Pool, snooker, carom billiards, and other games that are played with cue sticks. However, for this article, we are using the term for carom billiards only.

What does Pool refer to?

Pool originally referred to two English games which were introduced in the United States. The first is English Billiards, which was played in a similar fashion as Carom Billiards but on a table that has pockets.

The second game, and rather more popular, is the pyramid pool. The eight-ball pool is one of the modern forms of the pyramid pool and is also simply called ‘pool.’

Depending on what pool game you are playing, the number of balls will vary. For an eight-ball pool, sixteen balls are used for playing. These include seven non-striped colored balls (called ‘solids’), seven color-striped balls (called ‘stripes’), a black eight ball, and a white cue ball.

Players choose between solids and stripes. The main objective of the game is to hit the selected type of balls in the pockets. So if you choose solids, you pocket solids. The winner is the one who pockets all chosen balls and then pockets the eight-ball successfully.

what is billiards and pool

The contrast between Billiards and Pool

Popular Variants

  • Billiards- Although billiards covers all cue sports, the popular variants of carom billiards are straight line, one-cushion, three-cushion, balkline, and artistic billiards.
  • Pool- Pool is commonly used for the eight-ball variant. However, the other popular variants of pyramid pools are straight Pool, one-pocket, bank pool, blackball, and artistic Pool.

Table size

  • Billiards- The carom billiards table is 3.0 meters(10 feet) in length.
  • Pool- Pool tables vary in size, ranging from 2.13 meters(7 feet) to 2.74 meters (9 feet). 

Table Surface

  • Billiards- The cloth used for a billiards table is made of pure worsted wool with no nap (raised fuzzy texture). This allows the balls to move faster and longer with less friction.
  • Pool- Pool tables use a wool-nylon blend material as a surface. The surface is visibly fuzzy, allowing relatively more frictional force against the moving pool balls.

Pockets or No Pockets

  • Billiards- Carom billiards and their other forms are played on a table with no pockets. English billiards, however, is an exception.
  • Pool- On every corner of the pool table, there is a pocket. There are two more, one on either side of the longer rails. The pockets are where the balls are aimed to score points.
table used in billiards and pool

Cue Size

  • Billiards- In billiards, the cue sticks are 137 centimeters(54 inches) to 142 centimeters(56 inches) in length.
  • Pool- In pool, the cue sticks are 144 centimeters(57 inches) to 149 centimeters(59 inches)

Cue Tips

  • Billiards- Cue sticks for billiards have larger tips on the front.
  • Pool- Cue sticks for the Pool have smaller tips on the front.
differences in cues used in billiards and pool

Balls in Play

  • Billiards- A game of billiards involves three balls, one white cue ball, one yellow/spotted cue ball, and one red object ball.
  • Pool- The number and the type of pool balls vary. However, in an eight-ball pool game, one white cue ball and fifteen object balls are used. The object balls include seven solids, seven stripes, and one black eight-ball.

Ball Size

  • Billiards- The balls used in billiards are larger, with a diameter of 61.5 millimeters(2.42 inches).
  • Pool- The balls used in pool games are smaller. They have a diameter of 57 millimeters (2.25 inches)

Ball Weight

  • Billiards- The balls used in Billiards are heavier, with their weight ranging from 7.2 ounces(205 grams) to 7.8 ounces(220 grams).
  • Pool- In a pool, the balls weigh from 5.5 ounces(160 grams) to 6 ounces(170 grams).
balls used in billiards and pool

How to Win

  • Billiards- The one who scores the fixed number of points (decided before playing) first wins the game.
  • Pool- The one who pockets, that is, puts his selected type of balls(solids or stripes as decided) gets to pocket the eight-ball. If the player pockets the eight-ball successfully, he wins the game.

Racks Used for Arranging the Balls

  • Billiards- Billiards does not use racks for arranging the balls.
  • Pool- Pool uses a triangular rack for arranging the balls. This is done because the first shot(called break) taken breaks the arrangement. In some games, a diamond-shaped rack is used instead of the triangular one.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. Are artistic billiards and artistic Pool the same?

No, but Artistic billiards and artistic Pools have the same objective – to take shots of specific types. The tables on which they are played are different, with the pool table having pockets. 

Q2. What are racks?

Racks are wooden frames used in the Pool and are generally triangular in shape or diamond for games like nine-ball. The racks allow easy arrangement of balls for the break shot.

Q3. How do the number and types of balls vary in pool games?

In an eight-ball pool, 15 balls of varying colors are used; a nine-ball uses nine balls only; the blackball uses a black ball or an eight-ball with seven red balls and seven yellow balls, both unnumbered.

In the artistic Pool, the number of balls varies with the type of shot to take.

Q4. What are one-cushion and three-cushion billiards?

One-cushion billiards requires taking carom shots, that is, to hit the object balls one after another, with at least one contact with the rail before hitting the second ball.

Three-cushion requires the same, but your cue ball needs to hit the rails three times in this case.

Q5. What is English billiards?

English billiards combine the characteristics of carom billiards and Pool, with three balls as used in carom billiards, but it is played on a 357-centimeter(12-inch) table with pockets.

The game point is set like in carom billiards, and to win; you need to score the set number.

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