The history of pool

table of Contents

Introduction To The History Of Pool:

The history of pool (or billiards) started outdoors in the 1300s and became a popular indoor activity that people play in bars or in their own homes.

Throughout the history of pool it has been played many different ways, one way to play is the white ball (known as the cue ball) is used to hit in the other colored balls.

The goal of pool is to pocket as many balls and rack up points while preventing the cue ball from going into any hole.

But what exactly is the history of pool?

historic picture of game of pool

Pool is part of a series of games that are part of cue sports. Cue sports are a type of sports game where the player uses a cue stick to hit balls.

While Pool is part of cue sports, Carom Billiards, English Billiards, Snooker, and Russian Pyramid which are varieties of pool are also a part of cue sports.

The origin and the history of pool is vast, but also interesting.

Where Did Pool Originate?

pool game 1700s before pool cues players used a mace

The short answer, it is not known exactly who invented Pool. The earliest versions of the game were played outside in a game kind of like croquet. the game was played around France in the 1340s.

The earliest game of pool was played in the 15th century in Northern Europe.

Pool was popular among royalty which garnered the name Noble Game of Billiards. Throughout the years, other people who were not royalty started to play the game.

The game was also mentioned in one of Shakespeare’s plays titled Antony and Cleopatra.

When pool was first introduced, it was played a little differently compared to now. The balls were shoved with the maces (the earliest stick that was used before cue sticks) rather than struck.

Since the maces head was too big to use, players switched to the end of the stick to hit a ball if it was close to the rail.

While there are several games of pool, 8-ball is the most common game played in the USA. The game of 8-ball was introduced in the 1900s. One player tries to get all the striped balls in first then the 8-ball while the other player tries to get the solid balls in then the eight.

Where Did The Pool Table Originate

picture of pool table

The function of the first pool table was to prevent the balls from rolling off the table, however, after the balls hit the rails and bounced toward players, the Pool table changed drastically.

During the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s The material of the pool tables changed from wood to slate. Slate was more sturdy and was more durable to play pool on than wood. Also during the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s other pool accessories began to improve in quality.

In The History Of Pool There Was A Decline.

Robert Rossen's movie The Hustler

Believe it or not, there was a decline in Pool’s history, but someone, fortunately, saved it. After World War II, many people focused on their lives and careers. They viewed Pool as a waste of time. However, in 1961, Robert Rossen, a director, released a movie titled The Hustler with Paul Newman as the lead role.

In the movie, the main character plays Pool. Since then, the game of Pool came back into the spotlight in the 60s. Places started to incorporate Pool places for both adults and children.

Other Pool Games:

Besides the popular 8-ball, there are other ways that pool is played around the world. These games include Carom, English Billiards, Snooker, and Russian Pyramid. Here is how those games are played.

Carom (Or French Billiards)

carom table

Carom, also known as French Billiards,

  • is played on a 5-by-10-foot table that has no pockets.
  • There are a total of three balls, two white and one red.
  • One white ball has a small red dot and can be used as the cue ball.
  • The objective of Carom is to hit the cue ball with the other two balls in succession which will grant the player a point.

The player who gets a carom gets another shot until they miss.

Another version of this type of billiard is a three-cushion billiard, where the cue ball must touch a cushion three or more times to gain a point.

English Billiards

three balls of english billiards

Unlike Carom, English Billiards are played on a bigger table,6 feet by 12 feet. However, in a similar light as Carom, English Billiards are also played with three balls: two white (one with a red spot), and a red. There are three ways a player can score in English Billiards:

  • If the player strikes the cue ball and it is pocketed after hitting another ball. This point is called a loser.
  • If the player makes the cue ball strike another ball that is pocketed after having contact with another ball. This is called a pot.
  • If the player manages to hit the two other balls with the cue ball simultaneously, they gain a point. This is called a Carom.
scale drawing of snooker table
By Maciej Jaros


Snooker is played on the same table that English Billiards are played on. More balls are involved in Snooker, with 22. The white ball serves as the cue ball while the others are all different colors.

  • There are fifteen red balls while the other balls each have a number marked on them.
  • The yellow ball has two,
  • the green has three,
  • the brown has four,
  • the blue has five,
  • the pink has six,
  • and the black ball with seven.

The player’s objective is to hit and pocket one of the red balls. After they pocket a red ball, they can choose whatever ball they want to hit next.

When they pocket another colored ball, they get those points that are marked on the balls. They then repeat the process by hitting another red ball.

The game ends when all balls on the table are pocketed.

Russian Pyramid

Russian Pyramid

The Russian Pyramid is played on a table that has narrow pockets. Every ball is a white ball that is numbered.

When a player gets eight or more balls pocketed, they win the game. There are also other variations of the Russian Pyramid that have slightly different rules:

  • Free Pyramid: The player can choose the cue ball. If the cue ball hits a ball that hits another ball, they can pocket that ball. If the ball doesn’t make contact with another ball, it will be foul and won’t count.
  • Dynamic Pyramid: One ball is the cue ball. The player pockets the cue ball by performing a Carom shot. The scorer of the game can take a ball off the table. The player can also place the cue ball wherever they like.
  • Combined Pyramid: Combined Pyramid has the same rules as the Dynamic pyramid with only one change. When the cue ball is pocketed between the headrail and head, the players have to try to get the other balls pocketed from the sides and far corners.
  • Classical Pyramid: The classical pyramid is similar to a fifteen-pool ball, another pool game. To complete Classical Pyramid, players need to score a total of seventy-one points. The last ball is worth 10 points no matter the number marked on the ball, gaining the winner 130 points.

There are other cue sports games like this, but these are four of the most popular.

In Conclusion

The history of pool is intriguing. While it is unclear who created the game of Pool first, it is still a widely popular game played by men and women. Pool tables can be found in bars or in people’s houses. There are also many ways to play a game of Pool. With all of this, it seems that Pool is never going to die out again.

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