The Origins of Pool and its Distinctions from Snooker: A Tale of Cue Sports

The Origins of Pool and its Distinctions from Snooker: A Tale of Cue Sports

Cue sports, with their inherent skill and precision, have a rich history that spans several centuries. Pool and snooker are two popular cue sports that have captivated players and enthusiasts around the world. In this article, we will explore the origins of pool and examine how it compares to snooker in terms of gameplay and structure.

Origins of Pool 

The game of pool, also known as pocket billiards, has roots that can be traced back to various European and Middle Eastern games. It evolved from a lawn game played with balls and a mallet, transitioning to a table-based game in the 15th century. By the 19th century, pool as we know it today was established in the United States, becoming a popular recreational activity.

Gameplay and Structure 

Pool is played on a table with six pockets and uses a cue ball and a set of numbered object balls. The objective is to use the cue ball to pocket the object balls into the designated pockets, following specific rules and techniques.

The most common form of pool is Eight-Ball, where players are assigned either solid-colored balls or striped balls. The aim is to pocket all the balls of their assigned type, followed by pocketing the black eight ball to win the game.

Comparisons to Snooker: 

While both pool and snooker fall under the umbrella of cue sports, there are distinct differences between the two: 

Table Size: Pool tables are typically smaller than snooker tables, making pool games faster-paced and more compact.

Ball Set: Pool uses a smaller set of numbered balls, typically 16 balls, whereas snooker employs 21 balls, including 15 reds and six colored balls.

Scoring System: Pool employs a simpler scoring system, with each ball carrying a fixed point value. Snooker, on the other hand, has a more complex scoring system, with varying point values for different colored balls.

Strategy and Skill: Snooker is often considered more strategic and challenging, with its larger table and intricate combinations. Pool, while still requiring skill and precision, may offer more immediate opportunities for pocketing balls.


Pool and snooker have their own unique histories and characteristics within the realm of cue sports. While pool's origins can be traced back to various table-based games across Europe, snooker emerged as a distinct variation in India and gained prominence in the United Kingdom. The gameplay, table size, ball sets, and scoring systems differ between the two sports, offering players and enthusiasts a range of options and styles of play. Whether it's the fast-paced excitement of pool or the strategic intricacies of snooker, cue sports continue to captivate players worldwide with their blend of skill, concentration, and competitive spirit.

Photo: Pixabay (free) 

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