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Billiards Or Pool?

Billiards or pool, which one are you?

Some will ask themselves whats the difference? How is billiards different from pool?

Here is a rough over view for you:

  • Billiards focuses mostly on the cue ball while pool focuses on the object ball.
  • The break in billiards is close to a regular shot. You do not have to wake up the gorilla in you when you break.
  • “In pool, pinpoint accuracy is often required in hitting the object ball. In billiards it is more a matter of blending the hit with the other variables of speed, stroke and spin.” [Robert Byrne]
  • The cue ball can have to travel a lot (especially in three-cushion.) This is why it is important that the cloth be fast (a brand new Granito M for instance.) High-end tables are heated to remove the moisture, which improves the speed and the consistency of the table.
  • The cloth is different, pool cloth is rough while billiards cloth is much smoother. This allows for longer shots as the speed of the balls is not quickly killed by friction. Also the spin does not wear off as fast as in pool, which is important as some three-cushion shots as based on the fact there is still some spin when the second or third cushion is hit. On a slow table (pool table or old cloth), some shots are impossible because there is no spin left after the first rail.
  • Billiards is more technical. Many people play pool without being able to hold a cue properly, let alone use spin. In billiards (even in straight billiards which is the simplest version of the game) they would not stand a chance. Pool requires spin for position, however it is possible to pocket balls without using any. In billiards on the other hand, spin is often necessary to score a point. While intermediate or advanced pool players should not have much trouble playing billiards, beginners will.

Shot design

There are two parts to any shot: it is necessary to imagine the shot before making it. In pool there can be two possibilities (two pockets where the ball can be pocketed, a thin cut or a bank shot, etc.) but these alternatives are fairly obvious. It is less so in billiards, especially in three-cushion billiards. Very different shots can be tried and it takes experience and knowledge to see the possible shots and to pick the best one. Some pool shots can be quite tough; but in general it is easy to know what to do, it is only hard to make the ball. In three-cushion there are cases where it is even hard to find a shot that may be doable. So it adds another dimension and another difficulty to the game: the shot has to be imagined before it can be made.

People who have never played billiards may not understand what I mean and may think I am just boldly saying that pool is easy. My point is that it is sometimes harder to find a good shot than to make it. Some easy shots can be well hidden and some obvious shots can be quite tough. In such cases scoring is easy if you choose the right shot. It is therefore possible to miss, not because of poor shotmaking skills, but because of poor shot design.

Billiards for pool players

While billiards is a game in its own right, many pool players see it as a way to improve their position play. For many, pool is a useful drill, but there are some people who seem to think otherwise.

In pool or snooker, the player tries to send an object ball to a given spot (a pocket). In billiards, the player tries to send the cue ball to a given spot (where an object ball is). Cue ball control is native to billiards. While in pool cue ball control is secondary or “optional”, in billiards it is mandatory. This focus on the cue ball changes the way the game is played, where the object ball must be hit is not determined by where the object ball goes, it is determined by where the cue ball goes. This is a bigger difference than it may seem.

Did you enjoy this post? Stay tuned for a whole series of posts related to Billiards, and let us know what you think ๐Ÿ˜‰

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