red pool table
Friends playing pool
person playing pool billiard

What is Pool?

This is a game with a history dating back to the 15th century. In its present form, pool is played on a special table, which is covered with a cloth (usually green or blue). An element common to many types of pool is hitting balls with a wooden cue. Balls are made of suitable material and are of appropriate dimensions (weight and diameter).

The number of variations of this fantastic game is huge. There are different sizes of billiard tables, and different numbers of balls with various markings. Typically, though, every kind of pool is a game for two players, who take turns and switch when one makes a mistake. The goal of most pool games is to pot the balls in a specific order, into the pockets on the table.

A Short History of the Origins of Pool

The year 1469 can be established as the inception of pool. It was then that Henri de Vigne, carpenter at the French royal court, received an order from King Louis XI to create the first recorded pool table. The artisan designed and built a table whose top was surrounded by boards. For aesthetic purposes, and to limit irritating noise, he covered the top of the with a material that made the game much more enjoyable.

Curved sticks were used in the original game of pool, but this was not an idea that caught on and soon players were using simple, straight cues. In the original version of the game, the balls were made of ivory. After the creation of the very first pool table, the game became increasingly popular; in 1475, aristocrat Jacques Tournebride received from King Louis XI the first licence to operate a pool hall. One interesting fact is that Cardinal Richelieu, known to us from the novel “The Three Musketeers”, was a great admirer of the game.

pool billiard

The Development of Pool

Soon after the first pool table was created in France, they began to appear in other countries, with the first in Great Britain. It is also noted that pool began to spread further, to Spain, then to the Netherlands and to China. Peter I’s imperial Russia created its own version of the game, today known as Russian pyramid or Russian pool. A few centuries later, when European civilisation was developing in America, tables found their way to this continent – and it was there that pool had its greatest successes and spread to become the game that is so well-known today. Among the well-known European intellectuals who were aficionados of the game of pool was Immanuel Kant, the German philosopher, professor of logic and metaphysics who lived at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries. After lectures, the professor would often visit a patisserie next to his college, to play pool. Captain Francois Mingaud of the Napoleonic army, who invented a leather tip that could be glued to a pool cue, is a great example of how the game could captivate. The captain found himself in jail, but, for good behaviour, he earned the right to play pool while incarcerated; he became so engrossed in a game with an anonymous opponent that he requested of the prison governor an eight-day extension to his sentence in order to finally settle the question of who was the better player.

Captain Mingaud’s notion of a specialised pool cue tip was not accepted until the beginning of the 19th century. It was taken up thanks to the Englishman J. Carry, who applied chalk to the tip. This enabled the ball to spin, which is a key technique used in modern pool. Balls were once made of wood, specifically from the knots and roots of very hard wood trees, with laborious machining giving them their circular shape. These balls, though, had many flaws, and were sensitive to temperature and humidity changes.

Ivory balls were also used, but like their wooden counterparts they were prone to deformation and colour loss, and above all the material used made them extremely expensive. And, in fact, it was ball production that inhibited the development of pool – with stone being too heavy, wood too unstable, and ivory too expensive. In the case of the latter material, it is worth mentioning that four tusks were required for the production of one set of balls; this meant that two elephants had to die, with all the attendant risks and costs of hunting these animals.

The breakthrough came in 1868, when US inventor J. W. Hyatt produced balls from a mixture of nitrocellulose, camphor and alcohol. Later, a mixture of clay, celluloid and even metal was introduced. Mass production of pool balls began in the 1920s, after the introduction of artificial phenolic resins, and this was followed by a real boom in the game of pool. Today’s balls are made of plastic with resin, so they are very durable, do not deform, and most importantly have excellent elasticity so that their paths after striking another surface can be predicted. The price of modern pool balls, suited to almost all pockets, is also of great importance. Balls for the popular game of pool today are 57.2 mm in diameter and weigh about 170 grams.


Pool can be divided into several main categories, with the main criterion being the country of origin (in rare cases, some variations are included in other countries due to the rules that are specific to the variety of pool). By adopting this principle, we can divide pool into the following broad categories:

1. French pool (French billiards) – The table for this type of game is 5 feet by 10 feet, and does not have pockets. Few balls are used in such games. Varieties of French pool include:

Angle games

  • Balkline
  • Artistic pool
  • Boccette
  • Crokinole
  • Four-ball
  • Five-pin
  • Carambol
  • Three-cushion carambol
  • Novuss
  • Straight rail
  • Yotsudama

2. American pool –Played on a rectangular table of seven feet (198 х 99 cm), eight feet (224 х 112 cm) or nine feet (254 х 127 cm), the latter being the most popular. The table has six pockets (in the corners and in the middle of the longer sides). Colour balls are 57.2 mm in diameter. The white ball can be of different diameters (48mm, 52.4mm, 57.2mm, or 60.3mm), and may also be magnetic. These comply with the general rules of American pool games, which are applicable to all games on American tables, except for in cases where they contradict rules of a specific game. Varieties of American pool include:


Bank pool

  • Baseball pocket billiards
  • Bowlliards
  • Cake pool
  • Casino
  • Chicago
  • Cowboy pool
  • Cribbage pool
  • Crossover
  • Cut-throat
  • Equal offence
  • Straight pool, or 14/1
  • Forty-one
  • Ten-ball
  • Seven-ball
  • Six-ball
  • Flanges
  • Golf
  • Honolulu
  • Indian
  • Killer, or “three lives”
  • Line-up
  • Mexican pool
  • One-pocket
  • Eight-ball pool – also known as “blackball” and “solid & stripes”, this is the most popular variety of pool in the world
  • English eight-ball pool
  • Chinses eight-ball pool
  • Irish standard pool
  • 1/15 eight-ball pool
  • Convergence eight-ball pool
  • Mr and Mrs – this is a variety characterised by different rules for each player
  • 1/15
  • Fifteens
  • Polish Party
  • Rotation
  • Speed pool
  • Rainbow
  • Three-ball

3. English pool – Similar to American pool, but the table is 12 feet (356 х 178 cm) and a different set of balls is used. Such games include:

– Snooker – One of the best-known cue games. Snooker tournaments are incredibly popular around the world, and can offer prizes in the hundreds of thousands of pounds.

– Cake

4. Russian pool –Ball of 60.3mm or 68mm (depending on table size) are used. Table sizes and dimensions are similar to those used in American and English pool. The pockets are only 2-4 mm larger than the balls. Russian pool is also known as Russian pyramid.

5. Non-standardised versions:

  • Kelly – also known as pea pool
  • Skittle pool
  • Pokerball – also known as poker pool, a game with playing cards
  • Bottle pool – a game of pool using a special target called a shake bottle
  • Zoneball – a variety of pool with a six-cornered table
  • Bumper pool
  • Bar billiards
  • Bagatelle
  • Skittle pool – played with pins
  • Crud – played with hands instead of cues

The 8-ball Pool Game – the Most Popular Type of Pool

Eight-ball pool is undoubtedly the most popular pub game, but is it only for the pub? Eight-ball pool is a game for two people, and all over the world there is a whole host of amateur and professional tournaments in this variation of the game of pool. Tournament prizes reach thousands of pounds, with even higher payouts at the top end! The game of eight-ball pool has become a huge success, thanks to the simplicity of the rules and the fun of the game itself.

Pool live pro - play on

Rules of the Game – Play Pool 8-ball

The rules of the 8-ball pool game are very easy to learn, and the techniques can be mastered after just a few games.


At the start of the game, there is a white ball (the cue ball) and 15 coloured balls on the table. The coloured balls are numbered from one to 15, with one to seven being the solids and nine to 15 being the stripes. Ball number eight is full black, and the rules concerning this ball are strictly defined.

Balls most often occur in the following colours:

1 and 9 – yellow

2 and 10 – blue

3 and 11 – red

4 and 12 – purple (or pink)

5 and 13 – orange

6 and 14 – green

7 and 15 – brown

8 – black

Cue ball – white

Starting an 8-ball Pool Game

The balls should be set up, (racked) as close to each as possible in the form of a triangle, with the tip pointing towards the head of the table (usually marked with a white dot). Ball number eight should be in the middle of the triangle. The balls at the bottom of the triangle must be from different sets (the balls that we call solids and stripes). The other balls must be set up randomly, and deliberately placement of these into a particular place is not allowed.

The match begins with a challenge for the break. Players strike the white ball down the long side of the table, bouncing it off the bottom cushion to return as close as possible to where they are standing. Once the player to break has been decided, break can take place.

For a break to be considered correct, the following requirements must be met:

The white ball must be played from the “kitchen”, the area at the head of the table behind the line called the head string.
• There is no need for a player to nominate a ball that they wish to hit.
• If any ball is hit, the break player continues, and the table is “open”.
• If no ball is potted, at least four numbered balls must hit the cushions, otherwise an error is called and the opponent is entitled to:
• Accept the position of the balls on the table and take their turn.
• Re-rack the balls, and make a legal break.
• Re-rack the balls, and call on the first player to break again.
• Hitting the eight ball during a correctly executed break is not a foul. If this happens the breaking player may:
• Change the position of the eight ball and continue the game, accepting the position of the balls on the table.
• Re-rack the balls and break again.
• If the breaking player hits the eight ball and scratches (pots the white ball), their opponent may:
• Change the position of the eight ball and continue the game “ball-in-hand” from behind the head string, accepting the position of the other balls on the table.
• Re-rack the balls and break.
• If any ball but the white is knocked off the table during the break, it is not returned to the table (except for the eight ball, which is repositioned) and a foul is called. The other player may then:
• Accept the position of the balls on the table and play.
• Play “ball-in-hand” from behind the head string, accepting the position of the other balls on the table.
• If a foul not mentioned above is committed during the break, the opponent may:
• Accept the position of the balls on the table and play.
• Play “ball-in-hand” from behind the head string, accepting the position of the other balls on the table.

After a correct break, regardless of whether any coloured balls have been potted, the table remains “open”. If one of the coloured balls is potted, the breaking player continues. The table remains “open”, meaning that the white ball is allowed to hit any other (solids or stripes).

The table is “closed” (and the players allocated solids or stripes) when at least one ball is correctly potted in a stroke after the break.


Each foul results in “ball-in-hand” for the opponent. This means that the player who comes to the table after the other has committed a foul has the right to place the white ball anywhere on the table. If a foul is committed during the break (for example, potting the white ball), the other player places the white ball behind the head string, and must play it forward past the line. The following situations are considered fouls:
• When a player does not hit any ball with the cue ball.
• When a player hits a the black ball or their opponent’s ball first with the cue ball.
• When a player pots the white ball.
• When a player pots the black ball during a game, knocks it off the table, or pots it in a pocket other than the one nominated (this latter resulting in a draw). If the black ball is potted on the break, the other player may re-rack the balls and break again, or spot the black in its original position (or on the head string if that point is occupied) and continue playing.
• When no ball touches the cushion after the break (unless a ball is pocketed, and in this case it does not count).
• When a ball leaves the table.
• When a player touches their hand, the cue or their clothing any ball on the table (except for legally playing the white ball with the cue).

8-ball Pool Online

It is possible to play free 8-ball pool online, on a large number of websites. Free 8-ball pool games on the internet are played for pleasure. During the game, the mouse is used to operate the cue, and it is possible to play against real opponents or against the computer. When you play 8-ball pool you may select different available difficulty levels, so both novices and experienced players can test their skills. Playing 8-ball pool online also offers in-game challenges, such as potting all of the balls in the fastest time or with the smallest possible number of strokes.

What are the benefits of playing 8 ball online?

Online games are experiencing increasing popularity. They are undoubtedly an interesting and easily accessible form of entertainment. Still, there are a lot of staunch opponents claiming that they do a lot of harm to society. However, it turns out that games such as these can bring many benefits to their users. Find out why it’s worth to play pool online.

The advantages of online games – play pool online

Online games can bring many benefits to players. Valuable skills are developed such as quick decision making, planning and development of tactics, dexterity and reflexes. Visual-motor coordination is also developed. It is a much more developing form of entertainment than watching television, because it requires constant commitment. In addition, games can transmit valuable content such as historical, educational or as in the case of 8 ball online – they can teach principles and techniques that can be applied in real life. Multiplayer games, such as 8 ball online, give you the opportunity to interact with other players. Such interactions are increasingly transforming into real friendships. The belief that online players do not have any social life is now passé. In the era of such advanced technology development, the lack of physical contact with another person does not interfere with making friends. In addition, friendships made online are often transferred to real life. If you play pool online, you can make friends with billiard fans from around the world.

Online game threats

Many online games also carry risks. Especially if they are played by children, parents should pay special attention not to play games full of violence and vulgar language. Fortunately, there are many valuable applications available for free. Online pool is one of those games – it provides safe and developing entertainment.

Benefits of playing billiards

Traditional billiards also have many advantages. It is a great form of entertainment for people of all ages. This game greatly influences concentration and teaches you to concentrate solely on one activity. It develops visual-motor coordination and spatial intelligence. Billiards also teaches you how to deal with stress. We can often feel the pressure to perform when other people who look at us when we shoot. It is also stressful to watch our opponent strike – we do not have any influence on the course of the game. That’s why billiards teaches you how to master your emotions. Billiards guarantees undemanding physical exercise and improves overall well-being. It also mobilizes you to leave the house and spend time with other people. That is why older people in particular should play pool. Online games do not provide the opportunity to move around, but they can still improve your focus and concentration. In addition, you can play them anywhere, anytime. Thanks to this, they are available to people who for various reasons cannot afford to go to the billiard club. That is why it is worth encouraging older people to play pool online. This will allow them to enjoy good health and have an efficient mind for a longer period of time. There are more and more free online games that will not empty out your wallet. Thanks to free online pool, you don’t need to hesitate to try different varieties of billiards and you can easily find your favorite. 8 ball online combines the advantages of both traditional billiards and online games. That is why it is worth trying your hand in such a game. If you are not sure if you like the game, choose one that you can play for free. Online pool recreates the real gameplay, which will appeal to fans of traditional billiards.

Other Famous Varieties of Cue Game

Snooker is definitely the most lucrative of all the cue games similar to pool. This is a game played on an English table (approx. 3.6 m x 1.8 m in size), with six pockets (one in each corner and one in the middle of each of the longer sides of the table). Two players or teams of players may participate in the game.

Snooker tournaments are gaining popularity all over the world and are considered an elite game. Dress code is strictly defined and any deviation is punishable. The events are broadcast by the biggest sports television providers on the globe, and tournaments are held in the world’s capitals and other major cities. Awards reach hundreds of thousands of pounds, and top players can earn millions. During many tournaments, players have additional challenges that are rewarded with extra cash prizes.
The name of the game itself refers to the lie of the balls in such a manner that it is impossible for an opposing player to get a clean shot.

Pool Trivia

– One of the first varieties of pool was French carambole (carom). It was a variation of pool without pockets, played by the French and later European aristocracy. The name carambole comes from the French word carambolage (successive collision), which in turn is derived from the word carambola, which was used to name the red ball. The word, borrowed from the Marathi language of India, comes from a small red fruit growing in Asia, which is similar in size to a carambole ball.

– When France began to develop colonies in Africa, the balls were made of ivory, and this material remained in use for more than 300 years! Only at the beginning of the 20th century, for ecological reasons, did production cease. Then they used celluloid balls for several years, but these were very flammable, so production of these was halted too, this time for safety reasons.

– Despite carambole’s lack of popularity in Europe and America, it has been experiencing real boom in recent years. This game is especially popular in China, South Korea, Malaysia, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam. Most professional carambole players come from these countries, and the Asian Games is the biggest tournament for this game.

– When playing pool at the professional level, an umpire is required. In the case of a snooker, this person has the right to declare a stalemate. If the umpire believes that players are persistently playing shots (such as pushing, snookers or fouls) that do not lead to progress in the game, they may offer the players a re-rack. If the players refuse, the umpire warns them that they must escape the stalemate within a certain time (usually up to three strokes per player), otherwise the game will start afresh, even without their consent.

– Stephen Hendry, the wealthiest snooker player in history, earned £8.97 million during his career. After adjustments for inflation and comparison with current conditions, this would have been the present-day equivalent of £25 million.