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Billiards vs. Pool: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 23, 2024
Billiards is a cue sport with various games, often played on a table without pockets; pool is a popular cue sport variation with pockets.

Key Differences

Billiards, a term originating from a French word, encompasses a variety of cue sports played on a table. Pool, specifically known as pocket billiards, is a popular variation, distinguished by its inclusion of pockets on the table where balls are aimed.
In billiards, players use a cue stick to strike balls, typically aiming to score points through specific movements or patterns. Pool, in contrast, focuses on sinking balls into table pockets, often following rules based on the game variant, like eight-ball or nine-ball.
The equipment used in billiards and pool slightly differs; billiards may use fewer balls, and they are often of uniform color. Pool uses a standard set of balls, including a cue ball and balls numbered and colored distinctly.
Billiards games, like three-cushion billiards, emphasize skillful shots using cushions and avoiding pockets. Pool games, such as straight pool, prioritize pocketing balls in a sequence or pattern.
The cultural presence of billiards and pool also differs; billiards is often seen in a more formal or traditional setting, while pool is widely recognized as a casual, social game found in bars and recreational centers.

Comparison Chart

Table Design

Often without pockets
Includes pockets

Game Variants

Carom billiards, Three-cushion billiards
Eight-ball, Nine-ball, Straight pool

Number of Balls

Varies, usually fewer
Typically 16 (including the cue ball)

Ball Design

Uniform color, size
Numbered and colored differently

Cultural Context

Formal, traditional
Casual, social, widespread in public spaces

Billiards and Pool Definitions


A cue sport played on a table, aiming for strategic ball movements.
He showcased his precision in billiards by executing a flawless three-cushion shot.


A recreational and competitive sport with various rule sets.
They organized a pool tournament to raise funds for the local community center.


A broad term for various tabletop games requiring cues and balls.
She excelled in various forms of billiards, especially in carom.


A game played on a table with pockets, using cues and colored balls.
The pool hall was bustling with players engaged in intense matches.


An indoor game, often seen as a blend of strategy, skill, and art.
The artist captured the essence of billiards in his latest series of paintings.


A popular cue sport variant involving pocketing balls on a table.
She won the pool game by skillfully sinking the eight-ball.


A sport focusing on strategic ball placement and scoring.
His expertise in billiards was evident in his controlled and precise shots.


A game focusing on strategy, precision, and pocketing balls.
His strategy in pool was to play defensively, waiting for his opponent to make a mistake.


A game of skill involving balls, a cue stick, and a special table.
They gathered around the billiards table to watch the championship match.


A cue sport known for its accessibility and widespread appeal.
Pool is a common feature in bars and recreational areas, inviting casual play.


A two-player cue sport played with two cue balls and one red ball, on a snooker sized table.


A small body of still water.


Any of various games played on a tabletop, usually with several balls, one or more of which is hit by a cue.


An accumulation of standing liquid; a puddle
A pool of blood.


A game played with ivory balls o a cloth-covered, rectangular table, bounded by elastic cushions. The player seeks to impel his ball with his cue so that it shall either strike (carom upon) two other balls, or drive another ball into one of the pockets with which the table sometimes is furnished.


Any of several games played on rectangular cloth-covered table (with cushioned edges) in which long tapering cue sticks are used to propel ivory (or composition) balls


What is the standard number of balls used in pool?

Typically 16, including the cue ball.

What equipment is used in billiards?

A cue stick, balls, and a billiards table.

What is billiards?

A variety of cue sports played on a special table, often without pockets.

What distinguishes pool from billiards?

Pool is a type of billiards played with pockets on the table for sinking balls.

Can billiards be played as a competitive sport?

Yes, there are professional billiards tournaments and rankings.

What is the most popular form of pool?

Eight-ball is one of the most widely played variants.

How are billiards balls different from pool balls?

Billiards balls may be uniformly colored, while pool balls are numbered and colored differently.

Are the rules for billiards and pool the same?

No, they have distinct rules and game objectives.

What skills are important for playing billiards?

Precision, strategy, and control are key skills.

What's a common strategy in billiards?

Using the cushions for strategic ball placement and scoring.

Is pool considered easier than billiards?

Pool is often seen as more accessible, but both require skill and strategy.

Can beginners easily learn billiards and pool?

Both games have basic rules that beginners can learn, but mastering them takes practice.

What's the origin of billiards?

Billiards evolved from a lawn game similar to croquet in 15th-century Europe.

Where is billiards most commonly played?

In private clubs, billiards halls, and some sports centers.

How is scoring determined in pool?

Scoring depends on the game variant, usually involving pocketing balls in a specific order or pattern.

Is there an international governing body for billiards and pool?

Yes, organizations like the World Pool-Billiard Association oversee these sports.

Are there different types of cues for billiards and pool?

Yes, cues can vary in weight, length, and tip design.

Is pool a good recreational game?

Yes, it's popular in social settings like bars and recreational centers.

Are there women's leagues in pool?

Yes, there are competitive leagues and tournaments for women in pool.

How is the billiards table different from the pool table?

Billiards tables may not have pockets and can be larger than pool tables.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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