Pool history – Recommended reading

Pool history – Recommended reading

We, Poolheads, love to play pool, but where does our sport come from? Its origins lie in, or the game evolved from an outdoor lawn game similar to croquet. It was played during the 1340’s – 1600’s in Europe, presumably France where it was introduced by the Knights Templars.

The game was played with cudgels, or maces, and a ball, which the player had to shoot through a bow that was plugged into the ground. At some point the game went indoors and special tables were built. Some of the tables had obstacles. Over time, pockets were added, which initially were “hazards” to be avoided. These tables originally had flat vertical walls for rails and their only function was to keep the balls from falling off.

The game has been played by kings and commoners, presidents, mental patients, ladies, gentlemen, and hustlers alike.Mike Shamos

I’ve listed some readings below for you to go through, if you’re interested in pool & billiards history. During the search, I realized that most of the books and articles that came by, were written by Americans. Interesting…

Chicago billiard museum 

The Chicago billiard museum is a non-profit institution, founded by Mr. D.B. Bond and Ms. Joanne M. Charron, organized  “for the purposes of preserving, sharing, and promoting the extensive history of billiard culture and industry in Chicago, and  across the United States.”

The Chicago billiard museum has an extensive online archive and an interesting reading room. A few picks:

Fun fact

‘Pool’ used to mean a collective bet, or ante. The term ‘poolroom’ now means a place where billiards is being played, but in the 19th century a poolroom was a place where people would bet and were mainly known as a betting parlor for horse races where they often had pocket billiard tables to play on in between the races.


Other recommended reading – Pool history

Johnston City & Derby City Classic

I wouldn’t be Poolhead if I wouldn’t recommend some readings about my favorite tournament.


Quotes from a few of the books

To the physiognomist and the silent observer of human nature, there is no game that more thoroughly discloses the various dispositions of men than Billiards. The elated hope, the depressing fear, the sanguine exultation, the mortifying defeat – the philosophical resignation to fate, the indifference of success, and all the multiplied and manifold passions of the human mind, are variously depicted and easily discovered, by an attentive observer, on the countenance of the Billiard player“ – Michael Phelan (1850) in ‘Billiards without a master’

Billiards is an innocent, harmless, and gentlemanly amusement, and though sometimes desecrated to purpose of gambling, contrary to the true intent of the game” Michael Phelan (1850) in ‘Billiards without a master’

“Not to be familiar with the game of billiards argues an imperfect education in the ways of the world, for it is a pastime which, whilst it promotes health from exercise, stimulates the mind.”Phelan & Collender (1860) in ‘The rise & progress of the game of Billiards’

“Give him every morning the money that he may gain during the day, on condition that he does not play – you will make him unhappy. It will perhaps be said that what he seeks is the amusement of play, not gain. Let him play for nothing; he will lose interest and be wearied” – Ned Polsky (1967) in ‘Hustlers, Beats, and Others’.

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About Pepijn de Wit

An adventurous pool player from the Netherlands who’s a croupier and curious cultural anthropologist in need of knowledge to understand the world around him, goes by the name Pepijn de Wit. He values experiences more than anything and wants to see, and learn as much of the world as possible before leaving it. Hustling, the most charming and dark element of pool, would therefore not be his trade, although it would make it easier for him to stop mind-traveling while surfing the internet. He applauds cultural diversity, the ambitious, the graceful, and the open-minded. His ambitions are big, his dreams even bigger. He’s a One Pocket lover, tournament director of the One Pocket Series, and pushes for One Pocket to take over and electrify Europe!