Snooker vs. Pool: Major Differences

At first glance, snooker and pool appear essentially the same, and you may not even notice they are different tables.

But just because these sports look alike doesn’t mean the games are interchangeable. There are several major ways snooker and pool make for very different games.

Snooker vs. Pool History

The name “pool” comes from the pool of money that the players had bet on the race. As for snooker, the game was developed by European nobility who needed an indoor game to play when inclement weather interrupted outdoor polo rounds and other sports.

Snooker is played mainly by the British, while Americans prefer a game of pool.

The Table

Snooker table vs. pool table size is another important distinction. Many public pool hall and bar pool tables are 3.5’ by 7’, home pool tables are 4’ by 8,’ and professional tournament tables are 4.5’ by 9’. 

Snooker tables are 5’ by 10’ for American versions and 6’ by 12’ for the European variety. Snooker tables are also lower than pool tables.

Both tables have six pockets, and the felt of each table is very similar. But snooker pockets are smaller, equal in size, and feature curved pocket leads. On pool tables, the side pockets are larger than the corner pockets. 

Another disparity between a snooker table vs. a pool table is the markings. Pool tables have head and foot markings to show where the top ball in the rack is supposed to be placed. Snooker tables have a D and baulk line to mark the bottom. 

The Balls

In a pool table game, there are 16 balls, including 15 numbered and colored balls and 1 white cue ball. Pool balls use solid colors for balls 1 through 8 and stripes for balls 9 through 15. Pool balls are 2 ¼“ in diameter and weigh around 6 ounces. 

Snooker balls are smaller, measuring at 2 ⅙” in diameter. There are 22 snooker balls total, including a white cue ball, 15 red balls, and six balls in yellow, green, brown, blue, pink, and black.

The Cues

Snooker vs. pool cues differs mainly in weight. Snooker cues weigh anywhere from 16 to 18 ounces, with heavier cues generally being used to break. Pool cues are heavier and weigh between 18 and 21 ounces, increasing in half-ounce stages. 

As for length, snooker cues and pool cues are about the same. Modern pool cues are 58” long, and snooker cues are 59” long. 

The Rules

The rules of these two games are drastically different.

Pool Rules

For a game of 8-ball in pool, the players first use the rack to put the numbered/colored balls in formation. The 8-ball is always in the center. The white cue ball is placed at the opposite end of the table, and a player “breaks” by striking the cue ball into the colored balls.

If the player sinks a solid-colored pool ball, that player must use the cue ball to hit all the solid-colored balls into the pockets (except the 8-ball). Players take another turn every time they pocket one of their balls. If the player hits an opponent’s ball into a pocket or fails to score with their own balls, it becomes the other player’s turn. 

Once a player has pocketed all their balls, they must pocket the black 8-ball to win the game.

Snooker Rules

Snooker is more complicated than pool. The racked red balls are placed just behind the foot spot. Then, the pink ball is placed just ahead of the red balls, and the black ball just behind them. 

At the other end of the table, you’ll place the cue ball at the top of the D, with the yellow ball on the left side where the D intersects with the baulk line and the green on the right where the D and baulk line meet. The blue ball goes in the center of the table.

One player breaks and each player takes turns pocketing balls. They must alternate between hitting a red ball and a colored ball. Each red ball is worth one point, while the other colors increase in value:

  • Yellow: 2 points
  • Green: 3 points
  • Brown: 4 points
  • Blue: 5 points
  • Pink: 6 points
  • Black: 7 points

While the red balls remain pocketed, after the colored balls are sunk, they are returned to the table to remain in play. Each game of snooker is played to a pre-set amount of points.

Snooker vs. Pool: Both Great Sports

While these sports may differ more than you might think, they do share an important similarity — they both make for great games. Whether you prefer snooker or pool, you are definitely likely to enjoy a good time.