Top 5 misconceptions about pool

Top 5 misconceptions about pool

What is pool? Many people know that it has something to do with a cue, a table, and some balls, but not everyone knows what pool exactly is. It’s often confused with other cue sports. 

There are several cue sports; pool (or pocket billiards), snooker, billiards, trick shots, black ball and Chinese eight ball, which is becoming more popular. Within pool, billiards, and trick shots there are many different disciplines, which is what often leads to confusion for laity about what is what. There are not only misconceptions about what pool exactly is, but also about pool in general.

This is my top 5 of the most common misconceptions I’ve heard about pool.

1. Pool is that game with red and colored balls, right? Eurosport and BBC broadcast it 

No, ladies and gentleman, that’s snooker. Snooker is the most well-known cue sport in the world, mainly because it’s being broadcasted on television, and is often confused with pool. There are, however, similarities. Pool and snooker are both cue sports, the main point of both games is pocketing balls, and the mental game is pretty much the same.

Pool is played on a different table, it consists of different games with different rules, different equipment is used, and another kind of technique is required. Besides that, a professional snooker player can make much more money than a pool player.



2. Pool is that game with stripes and solids on a table with six holes

There is actually not much wrong with this statement, but many people don’t know that there is more to pool than just that game with stripes and solids on a table with six holes. First of all, that game is called 8-ball. Secondly, these holes are called pockets. It’s pool, not golf. There is a reason why pool is also called pocket billiards.

When people are talking about stripes and solids, we’re at least on the same page regarding the general understanding of what sport we’re talking about. Pool is the overarching term for different games that are being played on a pool table. Besides 8-ball, there are also the games 9-ball, 10-ball and straight pool. These games are considered the regular running games. More difficult games are: one pocket, bank pool, and the less popular bonus ball.

Snooker is just one and the same game, which is one of the reasons why pool is just more fun. I’m a pool player, so don’t argue with me about that. My opinion won’t change.

3. Every pool player can do the trick shots you saw on YouTube

When I tell someone that I play pool, and he or she knows what I’m talking about, one of the follow-up questions often is:

Can you do some of that cool stuff?


With cool stuff they’re referring to what we call trick shots. They’re called trick shots for a reason. This means it’s not normal. Trick shots even is a discipline itself. Tricks don’t belong to most pool players’ arsenal. A poker player is not a magician or illusionist either just because he plays a card game.

Check out the world record of balls pocketed in one shot! I’ve read that it took him 10 years to get to 32 balls.

4. Pool is easier than snooker

At this point we’re dealing with people who might know something about both sports. In some cases they don’t, which is very annoying if they make such statements. It’s difficult to say whether pool is easier than snooker. Both games are difficult in their own way. A top snooker player is not per se a top pool player, or the other way around. That has mostly  to do with technique and position play.

5. Pool is always played at shady places 

I think, that an important aspect in how this misconception came into being, is that pool is often subject to gambling and is mostly played in the evening and at night. The structure of pool games is perfect for gambling and it’s a game of skill. This makes pool attractive for hustlers, who are indeed part of the pool scene, but they form a small minority in the world of pool. The movie ‘The Hustler’ might have contributed to this image of pool being part of shady business, which is a different, but interesting discussion.

Pool is not (always) played at shady places. The most popular places are, as is self-evident, pool centers that most of the time also function as bars and cafés where people have a few drinks and can entertain themselves with shooting pool as a part of their night out. This, in combination with the gambling, might be a reason for the dark and bad image pool often has. But, pool is also played in pubs, hotels, and at home, which are quite innocent settings.

So, the next time you’re talking to a pool player, you know what not to say.

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About Pepijn de Wit

I’m an adventurous 30-year-old from the Netherlands. I started playing pool as a nine-year-old standing on an empty Coca-Cola crate to be able to reach the cue ball and grew out to a hobbyist with 15 national titles on his name. Now, I consider myself a one pocket enthusiast and push for one pocket to electrify the Netherlands and Europe. I therefore started the One Pocket Series, a national tour to promote the game. Next to that, I've studied cultural anthropology, I currently work at a casino, and truly love the outdoors. My ambitions are big, my dreams even bigger.