Are Billiards and Snooker the Same Thing?

In the world of cue sports, billiards and snooker often get mentioned together, leading many to assume they are different terms for the same game. However, despite some similarities, these two popular cue sports have distinct differences that set them apart. Let’s dive deeper into the world of billiards and snooker to explore their unique characteristics.

The Basics of Billiards

Billiards is a broad term encompassing several cue sports played on a table with no pockets or only six pockets in total. The most common variations include carom billiards (also known as carambole) and pocket billiards (such as eight-ball and nine-ball).

Carom Billiards:

In carom billiards, players use three balls: one white cue ball and two object balls usually colored yellow and red. The goal is to strike both object balls with the cue ball without pocketing any of them while ensuring that at least one cushion is hit by any involved ball during each shot.

Pocket Billiards:

Pocket billiard games involve sinking object balls in designated pockets using a cue ball. Eight-ball (using 16 balls) and nine-ball (using only nine), among others, fall under this category.

Diving into Snooker

Unlike traditional pool games like carom or pocket billiards, snooker has its own distinctive character – it features 22 colored balls along with one white cue ball on an exceptionally large table.


  • The objective is to score more points than your opponent by potting (sinking) specific colored balls sequentially followed by potting the final ball, known as the black ball.
  • Each colored ball holds a specific point value and must be potted in ascending order (yellow, green, brown, blue, pink, and finally black).
  • A player continues their turn as long as they keep potting balls legally. Failing to pocket a legal shot results in your opponent taking over.

Technical Differences:

The table size of snooker is significantly larger than that of billiards or most other pocket billiard games. Additionally, the pockets on a snooker table are smaller and have rounded entrances compared to those found on regular pool tables.

The Key Differences Summarized

To summarize the differences between billiards and snooker:

  • Billiards encompasses various cue sports with different rulesets like carom and pocket billiards.
  • Snooker is an individual cue sport played with 22 colored balls following specific point-based gameplay rules.
  • Billiards is generally played on tables without pockets or fewer pockets (six), while snooker requires a large table equipped with six pockets featuring rounded entrances.

In Conclusion

Now that we’ve explored the nuances of both billiards and snooker, it’s evident that these cue sports differ considerably in terms of rules, objectives, equipment required (including unique tables), and gameplay mechanics. While some may find similarities due to their shared use of cues and balls – beyond these surface-level connections – they stand as two separate entities within the world of cue sports. Whether you prefer one over the other or enjoy playing both depends entirely on personal preference!