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Pool vs. Snooker

What is the difference between a pool table and a snooker table?

We receive this question quite often and know there are many people who would like to know the difference.  These tables are compared side by side below.  For game rules of either just do an Internet search.

Pool and Snooker are similar in appearance, yet quite different.  The games played on each are also different.

More skill is required to play snooker than pool since the table is larger, the pockets narrower, the pocket lead-in curved and the balls smaller.

Pool is more common in the United States than snooker.  Certain states have a concentration of snooker popularity including Colorado, deep South and the mid-West in the United States.  Once a person plays snooker, they become better at pool since the accuracy is critical to snooker.  Snooker is the game of choice in Canada, Great Britain, Europe, Middle East, Australia and India.  For the most part snooker has become popular in countries where Great Britain has had Colonial interests.

We are proud to offer our interchangeable rail designs for our pool and snooker table plans!  So, if you only have room for one table, you can make two sets of rails for the same table.  In about 2 hours, you can expertly replace your table rails with snooker or pool rails once you have built the rails.  Click on the button at the right to learn more about your options.

Pool  

Our 9 foot Mission Pool Table is shown with Snooker Rails.  It requires about 2 hours to change the rails to switch between Pool and Snooker.

 

Snooker
Table Size
 

Officially sanctioned pool tables are 8 (regulation) and 9 feet (tournament).  Bar and coin op tables come in 6 and 7 feet.

We offer 7, 8, 8 plus, and 9 foot pool table sizes in our pool table plans for your flexibility.

Playfield Size & Room Size Charts for Pool and Snooker

 

 

The official sizes are 10' (American) and 12' (British) foot tables.

Snooker tables are sometimes referred to as English Pool tables.

We offer 7, 8, 8 plus, 9 and 10 foot in our snooker table plans.  American Snooker tables use the same size slate as pool tables.  British pool tables use 11/2"- 2" slate.

Pockets
 

Corner pockets are smaller than side pockets.

Cushions change direction into the pocket at an angle.  The end of the rails at the pocket opening are covered with a pocket facing which is not seen when covered with the rail cloth.

 

 

Corner Pockets and side pockets are the same size and are significantly smaller than pool pockets.

The ball enters the pocket after passing through a curved gateway which is a continuation of the cushions.  Unlike pool rails, pocket facings are not needed.

 

Cushion changes direction into

pool pocket at an angle.

Notice the curved lead into the snooker pocket.
Cushions & Rails
 

Pool cushions come in various sizes.  They use good quality K-55 or K-66 profiles which are "V" (or pyramidal) shaped.

 

American snooker tables have "V" (or pyramidal) shaped cushions.  Stepped rubber or "L" shaped, is used more commonly on British tables.  Both style cushions play about the same.

Our Snooker Table plans use K-66 profile since it is easier to build to achieve the proper curved lead-ins using a commercially available part called "snooker bends".

 

Alternate sets of rails (pool or snooker) can easily be displayed and stored as a design element of your billiard room.

 

 

Our snooker rails are simply mounted to the wall with removable eye bolts screwed into the sub rail.  Two wall anchors with protruding screws for each make quick work removing snooker rails for change over to snooker.  Notice how level the top rail can be to display our antique snooker ball set!

 

Table Height
 

Height specifications are measured from an unshimmed corner.  This definition is based on common sense and no one, to our knowledge, has ever addressed this as a specification. 

 

 

American height specifications are the same as pool table height.

British height specifications are approximately 2" higher than American specifications.

Our snooker table plans include both height ranges so you can choose which governing body's specifications you wish to use.

Cloth
 

Green is the traditional standard for pool tables.  However you may now enjoy choices of color offered by most cloth manufacturers.  Cheaper cloth need to be replaced more often and usually "pill" like wool sweaters.  The better worsted (yes, more expensive) cloths last longer and without quickly degrading such as Simonis 860.

 

Shown at right are Simonis Colors from their 2005 European Collection.

 

Snooker requires a "faster" or shorter nap (the fuzzy stuff) cloth, such as Simonis 760.  These are the more expensive wool/nylon blend or 100% wool weaves.  The good news is that these cloths last a very long time and should not have to be replaced for at least 5 years with everyday play.

The traditional color is green.  Due to the high demand for decorator colors, a few manufacturers have added a wide choice.

Balls
 

21/4" are the standard size balls.

On coin op tables when a mechanical system is used, the cue ball is larger in order it be returned when scratched.

In pool most games, 15 balls plus the cue ball are used, except for 7 and 9 ball.

 

Left:  21/4" #1 Pool ball

Right:  21/8" #2 Snooker ball

 

Ball sizes are most commonly 21/16" (English) and or 21/8" (American).

In most snooker games, 15 red balls PLUS numbered balls 2 through 8 and a cue ball are used.

English snooker balls do not have numbers on the "colored" balls.  American balls are numbered as well as colored.  Both sizes are available in both styles.

Table Markings
 

Tables are marked with a head and foot spot.  The rack's apex ball is placed on the foot spot.  The break is from behind an imaginary line across the table at the head spot.

 

 

The table is marked with a "D" at the bottom (which is called the head end in pool).  The rack of 15 red balls is placed at the top (foot end in pool).    The numbered balls are placed on their particular spots and are returned to these spots after being pocketed or "potted".  

Our snooker table plans accommodate both size snooker balls.

Cues
 

Pool cues are between 57" - 58" long and are 1 or 2 piece.  Tips range from 11mm to 14 mm.  Shafts are almost always maple.

Butts are often wrapped with linen string (or a blend) or leather strips that makes the cue less slippery by absorbing hand sweat and oils.  Some manufacturers coat the linen with polyurethane which defeats its purpose, but keeps the cue nice looking.

The diversity of cue designs is staggering.  All cues over $250 are of excellent quality.

Left:  14mm Pool Cue with ivorine ferrule

Right:  10mm Snooker Cue with brass ferrule

Snooker cues can be 1, 2, 3, or 4 piece.  1 and 2 piece cues are very similar to pool cues and some snooker players use pool cues.  A 3 or 4 piece cue has an extender which can be attached for longer shots due to the larger table sizes and avoiding use of the spider (bridge).  Lengths are between 57" & 63" without the extensions.  Shafts are usually made of ash.

Snooker cues have smaller tips between 9.0 and 11mm.  The accuracy of a smaller tip on a smaller (than pool) ball is necessary.  The shafts are thinner.

Snooker cues do not have the linen wrap pool cues have.  They also have one flat face on butt to help the player orientate the stick for play.

Games
 

Most popular today is 8 ball and 9 ball.  These two games are more quickly played in tournaments.  They are more suitable for television coverage.  7 Ball was added to the short games, but has not been as popular.

Straight pool, or 14.1 was the more popular game for tournaments in the past.  

Other games include One Pocket, Rotation, Chicago, and dozens of other games.  Special balls have been made for other games including Poker and Baseball.

   

The basic Snooker game take longer to play than most pool games and the scoring is sometimes a little tricky, so a score board is used to keep track of the points.

Snooker is the most common game, but is not the only game played on snooker tables.  Life Pool, Golf, Chase the Green, Cricket, Crash and Russian Pool.  Some snooker games use only the colored balls.  Up to 6 players may participate in several of the games.

Mary Southall & Brian Swift.

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