Why Is Billiards Called Pool – Surprising Facts You Should Know!

Why is Billiards called Pool? As an amateur player, this question may come to your mind if someone asks for a Pool table or Billiards table in some bars and pubs.

How different are they? Why do they look the same but have two names? Do not worry! Let the information below throw your confusion behind!

What Is Billiards?

Billiards is a game played on a level platform using balls and sticks in which each player uses a different colored cue ball.

The participants must all strive to score more points than their opponents to attain the predetermined total points necessary to win the match.

Billiards is divided into two main types: with net pockets and without net pockets (Carom Billiards). 

Carom Billiards

Carom billiards is also known as billiards. This sport has two types of play, including one tape billiards and three tape billiards. The size of the billiard table for this style is 10 x 5ft. 

In Carom, the playing balls come in only two sizes and one or two target balls.

Besides Carom and some kinds of Pool below, there are different games such as Snooker and English billiards. However, English type is only popular in the UK.

Snooker player

Billiards is a game in which the player aims to score more points than his opponents while remaining within the agreed-upon point limit. 

As a result, similar to chess, this is a strategic game in which participants must simultaneously make offensive and defensive plans. Though it is not a genuinely physical game, it still requires great skills and concentration.

What Is Pool?

There is no rule or accurate indicator for players to differentiate between Billiards and Pool, especially when almost all people have agreed to use both names to call similar kinds of games.

However, you can base on the following tips to avoid embarrassment when somebody asks for further explanation. All types of Pool games are pocket-included. It has quite a few variations, namely:

Eight-Ball Billiards 

The most widely played type is eight balls. Eightball pools, also known as striped billiards, are played by both amateur and professional players.

Nine-Ball Billiards

This form of the pool consists of a six-pocket pool table and ten balls. According to the rule, a ball is a cue ball, and others are nine objects. 

Players have to hit the cue ball to reduce as many object balls as possible. If you place the number nine ball while the other balls are still left, you are the winner.

Nine-ball pool

Ten-Ball Billiards

This pool game is more demanding than the 9-ball pool, and that’s why professionals usually play it.

Bank Pool

The rule of this type is quite simple. You must be the first one who hits 5 or 8 marbles into the pocket to beat others and win the game.

Straight Pool

Straight pool is a difficult game for those who do not have sufficient advanced knowledge, so it is not as popular as other styles.

The balls from 1 to 10 correspond to 1 point each, and the balls from 11 to 15 correspond to 2 points each (the total score in a game is 20).

The target ball for each shot that the cue ball hits first is the lowest indexed ball on the table; however, the balls targeted to the hole are not necessarily in this order.

Each player’s points are added consecutively until one player reaches the initial agreed number of points and wins the game (not necessarily the end of the game).

Why Is Billiards Called Pool?

Billiards originated in Europe during the reign of the British Empire. Then, with its allure and originality, this game spread all over the world. Some countries like Russia even develop their own unique versions.

Apart from the rather general information that billiards began to appear in Northern Europe around the 15th century, there is not much information about the homeland of this sport.

Billiards in the past

According to the historical line, it began to be widely popular in France in the 1800s among the nobility. This game went by the name “Poule”, referring to a sport with sticks to poke balls into holes.

After the Industrial Revolution and the rise of Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra” play, the game of billiards rapidly made its way to Britain and the United States. 

The origin of calling “Pool” is presumably due to the transliteration from French to English at this time.

There is another theory that explains the emergence of the “Pool” name for billiards.

Around the middle of the 19th century, racecourses often popularized the form of money betting – an act that was considered illegal. 

Gamblers began to focus their attention on another type of indoor betting game similar in appearance to billiards to avoid outside scrutiny. These playrooms are often referred to as “pool-rooms”.

Besides, you’ll also find a different meaning of the word “Pool” in the dictionary for betting and distribution of benefits. Since the name “Pool” became more popular, people have gradually accepted it as another way to call billiards. 

However, professional players prefer the original name. In their eyes, this is a great sport, with no betting as in the past.

The pool is just a small branch of billiards; the term “billiards” encompasses many other forms. 

So, if you are going to a genuine and professional billiards space, we still recommend you call it “billiards” instead of “Pool” as a way of showing respect to the players and the sport itself.


So, why is Billiards called Pool? Hopefully,  our answer can satisfy your inquisitive mind.

In general, Billiards is the most accurate and comprehensive name for all forms of this game. As Billiards is becoming increasingly popular, acknowledging the subtle difference between the two names and knowing how to call the sport in certain situations can make a positive impression. 

With vibrant development and an increasing number of professional players, Billiards will soon earn the status of an official sport that it always deserves.

Read more: Why Are Pool Tables Green? The Truth Behind The Green Shade

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