The locations of where it's played. Pool = seedy bar downtown; Billiards = country club uptown.
I guess for me it is all in who you ask. Pool is in some hick, seedy bar in a small town. Billiards is a game play with honor, class, and respect, and usually in a place that only has tables for the purpose of some sort of billiards. I think that since it has become more mainstream we have made the name simple and called it pool. I feel that if I say I am going to play billiards,most people have no idea of what I am talking about or think that I am trying to be to high class. When you play a variety of different games billiards is a really easy way to describe what you are doing. Non-players have no idea. Pool is a term that everyone recognizes so we use it, but really doesn't describe what we players do.
The game of pool is a type of Billiards.
Billiards defines any game played on a rectangular table covered in cloth and is played with long tapering cue sticks and Composite balls.
Billiards is a broader term. Whereas pool is a specific family of billiards defined by the billiards games played with pockets such as 8ball pool, 9ball pool, straight pool. Carombole and straight rail are examples of carom billiards which are played on tables without pockets and are focused on contacting rails as well as other balls on the table.
The Game and the size of the Table are the two factors for me that define it as Billiards or Pool. Seven foot pocketed tables are Pool Tables use for Nine-ball Eight-ball, Ten, and Seven-ball and a few other quick games.
Where as Snooker, Three Cushion and Straight pool and One Pocket are generally played on nine and ten foot tables depending where in the world you are. Snooker and Three Cushion are played on ten foot tables I believe.
Along with where you are playing as well as who you are playing defines the game. As either Or. Pool was a coin phrase I believe back in the Late Forties and Fifties from service men who learn of the games being played over seas and brought them home with them. A fast game where a quick buck could be made.
Most Billiards Tables were in or near of a Race track betting parlor where bets on Horses were Pooled together. So some how the term Pool stuck to the Game of Pocket Billiards. I don't Know when or why only How.
Pool is the indoor sport, which is a form of billiards. Pool is a pocket game which is of 8-ball, 9-ball and 10-ball. Whereas billiards, which also includes the carom billiards is a pocket less game, which contains only 3 balls for the game.
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