Often, this question comes to mind and leaves me wondering why is billiards called pool. Recently I took out time to do some research on the two words; I’ve got a few things to share with you on this.
Why is Billiards called Pool?
Before the 20th century, a collective betting game called pool was always played in a “poolroom.” It is common to find a large table in a poolroom; pool tables. Since billiards is table games, the two words became attached and synonymous in the public mind, and have been widely accepted.
Billiards is a collective name for all table games, including non-pocket and carom games. The history of table games is broad and rich, hence people mistake pool for pocket games and not billiards.
During the 18th century, the billiards game became popular in Britain. From then till the 19th century, it was played on a large table, usually rectangular. The game was played with three balls, always aiming at six different pockets.
Nowadays, the billiard game is still a tradition in Britain but has changed and is now called a game of snooker. Billiards was simple compared to the snooker game. The snooker now has twenty-two colored balls, and the rules are a bit complex.
British people now love the snooker game, more like the Americans love baseball. A week never passes by without a competition taking place in the UK.
The American billiards game known as American Four-Ball is a slight modification of the English billiard. It became popular a few years before 1900. The American billiard table has four pockets, and its length is almost 12 feet, but unlike the English billiards, it is played with four balls.
Points were gained by pocketing the balls or scratching the cue ball after a hit, or using two to three balls to make caroms. Carom is an action of hitting two or more colored balls with a stroke from the cue ball.
With the various means of scoring points on the object balls in the game, two other games were developed from the American Four-Ball; Caroms and American Fifteen Ball. These two games would later be popular than the parent game. Caroms consisted of three balls played on a billiard table without pockets.
New billiards game originated from the American Fifteen Ball, consisting of fifteen object balls numbered one to fifteen. The number inscribed on a pocketed ball is the equivalent point the player gets. The addition of numbers on balls in a rack gives one twenty (120), and the player to reach more than half the total points first wins the game.
Later in 1888, the rule of scoring points by numbers inscribed on the balls changed, one ball equals one point. Any player who sank the last ball on one rack breaks the next rack, and his point kept. From this idea, the game was named Continuous ball.
After the consecutive game came the eight ball. The eight ball is the most played billiards game in recent times. The Nine-ball followed suit some years later; it came with a few modifications to the eight ball.
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Going by this series of events, you can tell that this game didn’t evolve overnight. During the civil war era, billiards championship results held at the time spread faster than the war news, but as time passed, it was played by only a few people. Some years later, it seemed like the game was never going to exist any longer.
Then, women weren’t allowed to feature as professional players. Later in the 1900s, the game was brought back by two significant events. One of the events was the official release of a movie titled ‘hustler,’ which talks about the life of a street pool hustler who relied on the game for everyday survival.
After this movie, poolrooms reopened and flourished well, until social concerns set in from interested onlookers. Some others preferred the creation of outdoor activities instead of watching the pool all day.
Decades after the hustler movie premiered, another blockbuster movie was released in 1986. This movie titled ‘the color of money’ prompted the establishment of upscale rooms, a different and improved poolroom for players that have had a taste of the harsh old poolroom.
A typical pool room then was loud and rough, and women weren’t allowed into that kind of environment. The poolroom was for men who fought themselves, smoked without control, and did all sorts of things women couldn’t withstand.
Modern poolrooms can now accommodate women and men. There’s been much difference between the old poolrooms and modern poolrooms. Over the years, pool games have improved. Formerly, it was believed that women couldn’t develop skills.
Today, it has been accepted by everyone and is one of the most played championship games in the world.