Billiards vs Pool vs Snooker

Billiards vs Pool vs Snooker: What’s the Difference?

Wondering what’s the main difference between pool, billiards, and snooker? Occasionally the words ‘Billiards’, ‘Pool’, and ‘Snooker’ are used as meaning the same games but that is simply not the case.

Though their equipment is somewhat similar they have their own separate set of rules.

What are the differences between billiards, pool, and snooker?

Billiards, pool, and snooker, each have their own unique set of history, rules, and dynamics.

The Differences Between the Billiards, Pool, and Snooker Tables

Each game is played on a rectangular typically green cloth-covered table. The green wool or wool/nylon blend is reminiscent of the cue game’s outdoor lawn beginnings. That is where most of the similarities end.

Billiard Tables

The term billiards can be used to refer to any cue sport. Though this is true, it can also refer to games played on a table without pockets like 3 Cushion Billiards. Billiards tables or Carom Billiard tables are played on rectangular tables that are usually ten feet long and five feet wide. It is played with 3 balls, where you strike your ball with one of the other 2 balls, then hit at least 3 rails, and then hit one of the other 2 balls.

Pool Tables

Pool tables have six pockets where the balls are sunk. There is one pocket at each corner and one at the midway point of the table’s length. Between the pockets are the cushions which are built into the rails. These cushions increase the game’s interest by allowing banked shots involving considerable skill to pull off.

The higher-quality tables are made with slate as the playing field foundation. If you are looking to buy a pool table for your “Regal Rec Room” read the pool table buying guide for help to pick the right one for you in terms of size and quality.

Pool Table Sizes
  • Regulation pool table size is 9 feet by 4 and one half feet
  • Tournament pool table size is 8 feet by 4 feet
  • Bar Room (casual play) pool tables are 7 feet by 3.5 feet

Snooker Tables

Snooker tables are similar to pool tables but are bigger. Full-sized snooker tables are 12 feet long by 6 feet wide.

The Differences Between the Billiards, Pool, and Snooker Balls

Here are some of the differing characteristics of the balls between these games. Some variations of these numbers can occur because of several factors. So these should be taken as generalities to get you a feel for the games.

billiard balls isolated on white background with reflection

Billiard Balls

Size – 2.41 inches in diameter

Weight – 7.5 ounces

Number of balls – 3

Colors – white, white ball with a spot or all yellow, and red ball (sometimes blue colored ball)

Pool Balls

Size – 2.25 inches in diameter

Weight – between 5.5 to 6 ounces

Number of balls – 16

Colors – one white cue ball, 8 solid colored (numbered 1 through 8), and 7 striped (numbered 9 through 15)

Snooker Balls

Size – 2.07 inches in diameter

Weight – Though there is no standard weight, all balls must be the same weight

Number of balls – 22

Colors – white, red, yellow, green, brown, blue, pink, and black

To elaborate a bit more on snooker balls according to color.

  • white (cue ball) (Count 1)
  • red (1 point) (Count 15)
  • yellow (2 points) (Count 1)
  • green (3 points) (Count 1)
  • brown (4 points) (Count 1)
  • blue (5 points) (Count 1)
  • pink (6 points) (Count 1)
  • black (7 points) (Count 1)

Billiards, Pool, and Snooker Summary


The word ‘billiards’ can be used as a general term to describe several different games played on a cloth-covered table with billiard balls. These various games strategically roll or strike the cue ball with cue sticks.

It can also be used to refer to a specific game where points are scored by hitting a cue ball that in turn hits object balls in succession.


Pool is played on a rectangular felt-covered table with six pockets, billiard balls, and elastic cushions around the perimeter. There are several games that are played, with the most popular being 8-ball and nine-ball.


Snooker is a variation of pool that is played with 22 balls. It is played on a 10-foot table that is 6 feet wide in Europe and 5 feet wide in America. In snooker, there are 15 red balls, 6 variously colored balls, and a white cue ball.

The 15 red balls are racked in a triangle. Then the player that won the coin toss goes first and takes the first shot. Striking the white cue ball with the cue stick to break and scatter the balls. The aim is to pocket one of the red balls.

The object of the game is to make the most points by alternating the pocketing of red and colour balls. Failure to alternate in this manner by pocketing a wrong ball is considered a foul which forfeits the turn.

The other non-red balls must be pocketed in a specific order, with each having its respective point value. (See: “Snooker Balls” above). The winner of the snooker game is the player who has accumulated the most points.


All these games are similar in some respects. They are all cue sports games played on cloth-covered tables and won by strategically rolling balls on the surface. That is where most of their similarities end. Billiards, pool, and snooker are distinctly different games with their own respective rules and strategies.

Billiards Frequently Asked Questions

Billiards FAQs

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There are balls numbered 1 through 15 and one cue ball that is struck with a cue stick. Of these 15, balls 1 through 7 are solid colors and 9 through 15 are stripes. The player that pockets a solid-colored ball or a stripe ball first determines whether a player's balls are the solid or stripe group. Each player alternates taking shots at pocketing balls and ends the turn when a shot is missed. The winner is the player that can pocket all of their balls and lastly the 8-ball without scratching the cue ball.
If the cue ball ever goes into a pocket during a shot, it is a scratch which is a foul. The game is lost in 8-ball when the cue ball is pocketed when attempting to sink the 8-ball.
A "call shot" is when the pool player tells their opponent what ball or balls will be pocketed. It is understood that a call does not have to be declared if the intended ball and pocket are obvious. The purpose is to prevent pocketing a lucky shot that actually required no skill to pull off. A less obvious shot would be a shot that involves hitting off the cushions and combination shots.
No. During a call shot game, even obvious non-complicated shots do not necessarily have to be called.
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