Types of Billiard Games. How many variants of pool are there?

Different Billiard Games - BookGame

Did you know that there are different varieties of billiards? 


For people who are new to the sport, this information may be surprising. However, just a quick glance at the game’s history shows how many types of billiard games are available. Here you will learn about the most important ones and see the differences in how these games are played. 


Below we present only the most important and popular varieties of billiards.


Varieties of billiards - how do they differ from each other?


How to recognize each type of billiard game? 


There are several elements that you need to pay attention to. These are:


  • The presence of pockets in the pool table;
  • The table size;
  • The number of balls on the table;
  • The presence of numbering on the balls, as well as their colors.


Is it so difficult to recognize a particular billiards variety? Contrary to appearances, not necessarily. Once you learn the basics, never again will you confuse snooker with pool billiards, for example! Let's take a look at the rules of each type of game.

The type of billiard game that is least known? Carom!

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Did you know that in French, “carom” is associated with... a traffic accident involving multiple cars? This colloquial term traces its origin to a less popular variant of the game of billiards. Originating in France, it is most similar to the specifics of the game as it was played more than 500 years ago. It is worth remembering that this table game was born at the court of Louis XI!


So what does carom consist of? This variation of the game of billiards is the most specific. This is because:


  • the table on which the game is played does not have billiard pockets; its dimensions are 10 x 5 feet; there are also 3 ball marks on it;
  • there are only three billiard balls on the table ( or in some carom variations - 4 balls );
  • the game involves two players - each of them has "his" cue ball, usually white or yellow;
  • there is also a third ball - the red one, and it is this ball (as well as the opponent's ball) that the player is supposed to hit.
  • the billiard table plate can be heated ( thanks to this, the cue balls roll faster which allows colliding with less force and thus more accurately).


How does the game itself proceed? Its goal is to make as many collisions as possible between your own ball and the other two balls. Depending on the variation of the game of carom, these must occur after the ball rebounds off either one or three (!) rails.  In the open variation of carom of this type, the table is divided with lines into zones - collisions (i.e. "carambols") can occur in those that are allowed.

This type of billiard game is popular in France and the Benelux countries.

Professionals from other varieties of billiards appreciate the “craftsmanship” of carom.


A variation of the game of billiards from England - snooker

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Born in England, Snooker is a popular variation of the game of billiards. To this day, it is still extremely popular there, and very sophisticated. 

The largest prize pools of all billiard varieties are in snooker. The winner of the World Championship receives a prize of £500,000.

The most popular and successful snooker player is Ronnie O'Sullivan who holds 7 world titles ( as many as Stephen Hendry).


This game:


  • uses a large 12 x 6-foot (365.8 x 182.9 cm) table, equipped with 6 pockets (4 in the corners, two in the middle of the longer rails);
  • features 22 balls - including 15 red balls, 6 colored balls and the cue ball
  • requires special snooker cues, either one-piece or combined, with a brass ferrule and a leather cap;
  • has 2 players.


Each ball is scored differently.

  • Red - 1 point
  • Yellow - 2 points
  • Green - 3 points
  • Brown - 4 points
  • Blue - 5 points
  • Pink - 6 points
  • Black - 7 points


The players' task is to score as many points as possible. 

Note: You must pocket the balls alternately (i.e., first red and then colored), informing the referee and other players in advance which one you are aiming at and into which pocket you plan to sink it. The stroke must succeed as called or it will not be recognized. Of course, the player who accumulates the most points at the end of the game wins.

It's also worth mentioning that when it comes to billiards, the British varieties are more "formal." For example, it is standard during the games to follow a rigid dress code. A player must wear a bow tie and vest, as well as a dress shirt. 

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A popular variation of the game of billiards - pool


Pool is otherwise known as American billiards, today the most popular around the world. It has very many variants, but the basic principles remain the same.  

How to identify tables designed for playing American billiards? 


Pool billiard tables are smaller than snooker tables. All are equipped with 6 pockets, and can be 6,7 feet, 8 feet or 9 feet respectively. Professional competitions are played on 9-foot tables.

Varieties include: 8 ball, 9 ball, 10 ball, 14/1, Artistic Billiards, "one pocket", "bank pool".

All variations of pool billiard use colored balls. 

In 8 ball - 15 balls ( 7 solid colored balls, 7 halves and black ball ) + cue ball 

in 9 ball - ( 9 balls 1-9) + cue ball 

In 10 ball - ( 10 balls 1-10) + cue ball 


Most commonly they are:

  • numbered from 1 to 15;
  • divided into so-called solid colors, and stripes 

Billiards cult varieties: 8-ball

The most popular type of American billiard game is 8-ball. It takes its name from the black ball which has the number 8, which must be pocketed last at the very end of the game. Pocketting it prematurely results in losing the game (except when it goes into the pocket on a smash hit. Then the player can either repeat the smash or place the black ball on the table and continue the game)!

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The rules are simple - one player pockets "stripes" and the other pockets "solids" balls. The winner is the one who pockets all his balls, followed by the "eight ball". 

Note that the pocket in which the player plans to sink the ball must be declared in advance.


What is the difference between 8-ball and a 9-ball?

The most popular variety among professionals is the 9-ball variety.

( Although slowly the 10-ball variety is gaining notoriety - because it requires more skill).



This game uses a cue ball and nine colored balls bearing numbers. These numbers are of great importance, because the player is obliged to begin by striking the ball with the lowest number first. The game is ended (won) by sinking the number 9 ball - this can also happen through a combination (after hitting the ball with the lowest number on the table) or during the break.


So, as you can see, billiard variations are very diverse and there is something for every fan of the sport. It is therefore worthwhile to try different variations of pool and determine your favorite.

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