How a Pool Table Differs from a Billiards Table

To someone who has no interest in billiards or snooker, all billiard tables are the same when in fact they are not. A pocket billiard table is different from a snooker table in several aspects. A billiard table is specifically designed for pool games like eight-ball, nine-ball, and straight pool, one pocket and paper pool, whereas a snooker table is especially designed for snooker. Here we explore the difference between these two kinds of billiard tables.

  • Dimensions.  A snooker table generally appears longer than a pocket billiards table.  The truth is both tables come in different sizes. The World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) only authorizes two sizes of pocket billiards tables to be used in tournaments. These are the 9-foot and 8-foot tables.  Aside from the obvious difference in length, these two tables differ in the area of the rectangular playing surface. A 9-foot table has a 100-inch by 50-inch playing surface, while an 8-foot table has a 92-inch by 46-inch playing surface. There is also a 7-foot table, which has a playing surface ratio of 76 inches by 38 inches. Notice that the ratio for the playing surface in all three table sizes remains constant at 2:1. In snooker, there are two generally accepted table dimensions: the 12-foot by 6-foot table and the 9-foot by 5-foot table.  The first size has a playing surface of 11 feet and 8.5 inches by 5 feet and 10 inches. The second size has a decidedly smaller playing surface.
  • Felt. The playing areas of pool tables are covered in different types of billiard cloth commonly referred to as felt, which also refers to the cloth used in poker tables. These covers vary in texture and textile blend. In high quality pocket billiard tables, the felt used is napless, allowing for the faster roll of the balls. In snooker, the felt has a directional nap, which affects the rolling and the direction of the ball.
  • Pockets. Both pocket billiards and snooker tables have six pockets each. The difference lies in the amount of undercut in the pockets. Pocket billiards tables usually have sharper corners, while snooker table has rounded corners. This affects the accuracy of the shots.
  • Lights. Lights are considered accessory to the pool table. The height and amount of the lighting varies depending on the room.
  • Cue sticks. Pool cue sticks and pool stick cases are essential to cue sports. Despite the obvious difference in the length between pool tables, cue sticks have a standard length of 58 inches. Like pool tables, there are many different types of cue sticks, namely one-piece cue, two-piece cue, and the there-quarter two-piece cue.  The first two types are usually used in pocket billiards tables. The last one, the three-quarter two piece cue is commonly used in snooker.

There are other pool tables aside from pocket billiards tables and snooker tables.  These include carom billiards tables and novelty billiards tables.  The novelty ones are more different from the tables discussed above but this is beyond the scope of this article.


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