Pocket billiards

Pocket billiards, most commonly referred to as pool, is the general term for a family of games played on a specific class of billiards table, having 6 receptacles called "pockets" (or "holes") along the rails, in which balls are deposited as the main goal of play. Cue sports that are played on pocketless tables are generally referred to as carom billiards.


Outside the cue sports industry, pocket billiards is almost exclusively referred to as "pool," due to a perhaps unfortunate association with the "poolrooms" where gamblers "pooled" their money to bet remotely ("off-track") on horse races. Because these venues often provided billiard tables, the term "pool" became synonymous with billiards, and though the original "pool" game was played on a pocketless table, the name stuck to pocket billiards as it gained in popularity.Though the traditional view of billiards as a refined and noble pastime did not blend well with the low-class connotations of gambling, the billiards industry's attempts to distance itself from the term "pool" beginning in the late 19th century were largely unsuccessful.There are hundreds of pocket billiards games. Some of the more well known include eight-ball, nine-ball, straight pool, and one-pocket. The game of snooker is played on a table with pockets but is considered to be its own cue sport discipline and is governed internationally by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association/World Snooker Association (professional) and International Billiards and Snooker Federation (amateur). There are also hybrid games combining aspects of both pocket and carom billiards, such as English billiards, American four-ball billiards, cowboy pool and bottle pool.

Pocket billiards is more popular than carom billiards in most countries of the world.Fact|date=April 2007 Carom billiard games thrive in Asia, Europe and Latin America, but pool (especially in the form of nine-ball and eight-ball) and snooker are gradually taking over as the most widely played cue games.Fact|date=April 2007

As a competitive sport, pocket billiards is governed internationally by the World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA), which has national affiliates such as the US Billiard Congress of America (BCA), and which represents pocket billiards in the World Confederation of Billiard Sports which in turn represents all forms of cue sports in the International Olympic Committee.


Pocket billiards uses different equipment from carom billiards. Other than the table having pockets, the balls for pocket billiards are generally smaller and range from 2.25 inches in diameter to 2.375 inches in diameter. (By comparison Carom billiard balls are generally 2-3/8 (2.375) in., or 61.5mm. [http://www.umb.org/Rules/Carom_Rules.pdf "World Rules of Carom Billiard"] (English language version), Chapter II ("Equipment"), Article 12 ("Balls, Chalk"), Section 2; Union Mondiale de Billard, Sint-Martens-Latem, Belgium, 1 January 1989 (official online PDF scan, accessed 5 March 2007).] While UMB, the International Olympic Committee-recognized world carom billiards authority, permits balls as small as 61.0 mm, no major manufacturer produces such balls any longer, and the "de facto" standard is 61.5 mm. Modern pocket billiard tables range in size from 3.5 by 7 feet, to 4.5 by 9 feet. Modern cues are generally 58.5 inches long for pocket billiards while cues prior to 1980 were designed for "straight pool" and had an average length of 57.5 inches, while carom billiards cues are generally 56 inches long.


*Shamos, Michael Ian. 1993-1999. The New Illustrated Encyclopedia of Billiards. ISBN 1-58574-685-1.
last = Byrne
first = Robert
author-link =
last2 =
first2 =
author2-link =
title = Byrne's Standard Book of Pool and Billiards
place = New York and London
publisher = Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
year = 1978
volume =
edition =
url =
doi =
id =
isbn = 0-15-115223-3

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • pocket billiards — ☆ pocket billiards n. POOL2 (n. 2b) …   English World dictionary

  • pocket\ billiards — subtle rearrangement of male parts in a public place i was sitting awkwardly, in considerable discomfort. a quick game of pocket billiards soon solved the problem …   Dictionary of american slang

  • pocket billiards — /pɒkət ˈbɪljədz/ (say pokuht bilyuhdz) noun 1. See pool2 (def. 8). –phrase 2. play pocket billiards, Colloquial (of a male) to fondle one s testicles through one s pants pockets …   Australian English dictionary

  • pocket billiards — noun any of various games played on a pool table having 6 pockets • Syn: ↑pool • Hypernyms: ↑table game • Hyponyms: ↑snooker • Part Meronyms: ↑break, ↑carom …   Useful english dictionary

  • pocket billiards — pool2 (def. 1). [1910 15] * * * ▪ game also called  Pool,    a billiards game, most popular in the United States and Canada, played with a white cue ball and 15 consecutively numbered coloured balls on a rectangular table with six pockets (one at …   Universalium

  • pocket billiards — noun A family of billiards games played on a specific class of billiards table, having six receptacles called pockets (or holes ) along the rails, in which balls are deposited as the main goal of play. Syn: pool …   Wiktionary

  • Pocket billiards — male with hand in his pocket adjusting genitals …   Dictionary of Australian slang

  • pocket billiards — Australian Slang male with hand in his pocket adjusting genitals …   English dialects glossary

  • pocket billiards — noun plural but usually singular in construction Date: 1913 pool 2b …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • pocket billiards — n (of a man) manipulation of one s geni tals through the trouser pockets. The first phrase is British, the second the American version …   Contemporary slang

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.