Snooker vs Pool: Find out the differences between the two

Snooker vs Pool: Find out the differences between the two

Helix Odhiambo
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:28 PM

Most people struggle to differentiate between snooker and pool because of their close resemblance. It is easy to confuse the two games if you lack basic knowledge of both. This article breaks down the key features of Snooker vs Pool, their history and what it takes to succeed in the games.

Snooker vs pool table size
The two are the most popular cue sports, with many people playing them globally. Image: Augustas Cetkauskas, Zeiss4Me (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

Snooker and pool are known as cue sports. These are games played on tables using balls and sticks. A cue is a long stick for striking the ball across the table during a game. The aim is to hit the object or target object and ensure it leaves the table bed and enters a pocket, a process called potting. Besides the two, there is also billiard, the oldest cue sport.

What is the difference between pool and snooker?

Although the games share many similarities, they have some contrasting features. Ranging from their rules, table sizes, and the number of balls used. People play in casual or competitive setups. So, how is pool different from snooker? Here is a breakdown of the two games.

Snooker vs Pool balls

You can easily differentiate the two games by the types of objects used. So, are pool balls bigger than snooker balls? The latter ones are smaller at about 5.3 cm. Meanwhile, they both come in different colours.

Snooker balls

What is the difference between pool and snooker?
A player arranges balls on the table during day eight of the Betfred World Snooker Championships at The Crucible, Sheffield, on 23 April 2022. Photo: Isaac Parkin
Source: Getty Images

The game has 22 balls with six different colours and point values, but without numbers. It often starts with 15 red ones (worth 1 point each) and the other six with different colours and scores.

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

Pool balls

The game has different balls depending on the type format. They are eight, nine, and three-ball games, with a cue ball (white) usually used to hit the target. In the eight-ball format, there are 16, including the white one. The 15 coloureds get grouped into a triangle shape.

Snooker vs pool difficulty
Pool balls with different colours and numbers on a table during a game. The sport has gained worldwide attention. Photo: Zeiss4Me
Source: Getty Images

The nine-ball game has ten objects, including nine coloureds (numbered 1-9). At the start of the game, nine of them get grouped into a diamond shape. Four balls are put on the table in a three-ball match, including three coloured (numbered 1-3) and one white. At the start of the game, the three get grouped into a triangle shape.

Snooker vs pool rules

People play both games for points. The person who collects the most wins the game. However, the score calculation is different, as explained below.

Snooker rules

How is pool different from snooker?
Referee Michaela Tabb sets up the balls ahead of a match. Photo: Sean Dempsey
Source: Getty Images

To win a match in the game, a player must clinch ten frames before the opponent. However, consecutively pushing red items in the hole is punishable. If this happens, it becomes a foul, with no point awarded. The opponent then takes a turn.

Pool rules

In an 8-ball game, each player needs to pot all objective balls (15), and each one is 1 point. To start a break, one player shoots first. However, the opponent will get the next run if they get a foul (failing to pot).

In a straight match, players should first agree to set a particular score for the winner (often 100 to 150 points). Before every shot, they must declare their next objective ball. If one misses the target, the opponent takes his turn.

Snooker vs pool stick

Snooker vs pool stick
People use special cue sticks to strike the white ball and pocket the target ones into the table. Photo: Dharmapada Behera
Source: Getty Images

Cue sticks are unique wood, graphite, or carbon fibre equipment in cue games. Snooker sticks are often longer, narrower, and lighter than pools. They are 57 - 63 inches (1.45 m- 1.6m) long and weigh between 16 - 18 oz (0.45 kg - 0.51 kg). One can also extend the area held by the hand to make it longer. Meanwhile, pool cues are 59 inches (1.5 m) long and weigh 16 - 21 ounces (0.45 kg - 0.6 kg).

Snooker vs pool table size

Both sports use a rectangular table with six pockets. The length is often twice the width. The tables have cushions (bumpers) at the sides to prevent the ball from falling off. Here are the contrasting features between the two, based on size, playing surface, height, weight and cloth.




Average size

12 × 6 ft (365.8 cm × 182.9 cm)

3.5 x 7 ft (1.07 x 2.13 m) to 4.5 x 9 ft (1.37 x 2.74 m)


33.5 to 34.5 inches (85.1 - 87.6 cm)

29.25 to 31 inches (0.74 to 0.79 m)

Playing surface

140 × 70 inches (356.9 × 177.8 cm)

3.5 x 7 ft table (78 x 39 inches or 1.98 x 0.99 m)


170kg - 1270kg

280kg - 450kg

Pool table materials constitute wool with nylon, surrounded by vulcanized rubber cushions. In snooker, tables have coarse woollen or cheaper cotton. It is more durable than the others because of its higher wool content (at least 95%).

Snooker vs pool stance

A snooker stance is more open than the other cue sports. It allows your head to be square to the shot with less neck twisting. In that case, the front leg is often bent more at the knee, with both feet pointing toward the target. The front foot is also in front of the back foot.

The open stance lowers the head with the chin directly over the cue. Therefore, it improves the aiming and sighting with more consistency and accuracy. However, a closed stance allows a more-even weight distribution between the two feet. It can also be more natural and comfortable for some people.

Snooker vs pool difficulty

Are pool balls bigger than snooker balls?
An overhead view of a table before the beginning of a match. Photo: Mevans
Source: Getty Images

Is snooker harder than pool? Generally, the former is more complicated because of its smaller pockets. The light balls and a wide surface mean a player requires complex techniques to make accurate shots. It is a game of patience requiring more skill than any other cue sport.

Which came first, snooker or pool?

Cue sports history dates back to the 15th century with the billiards game. It evolved, changing rules and equipment, to the 19th century when the two popular versions emerged. They began around the same time but in different locations.

Which came first, snooker or pool?
An illustration of people playing billiards during the 19th century. Photo: Clu
Source: Getty Images

The pool got popular in America in the early 19th century. Back then, only a few people could afford a table. You could only find it in entertainment facilities. Meanwhile, snooker began as a gentleman's game around the same time in England.

Snooker is more prevalent in the UK than the corresponding game, which is widespread in the US. Globally, the pool has more footprints because it is fast-paced and has fewer rules. It is also common in Canada, Australia, Taiwan, the Philippines, Ireland, China, several African countries, and some parts of South America.

Many competitions have emerged where players from different regions compete, and the winner gets an award. Some leisure play, while others have tapped into the business potential of the sports and made massive profits.

Understanding the snooker vs pool comparison is essential if you want to try out one of the games. Although the American type is simple and easy to play, others prefer the UK version because of its nature. Well, to some, easy is boring!

READ ALSO: Which are the different types of shots in tennis?

Sports Brief also published the various types of shots in tennis that every player or enthusiast should learn. Understanding the tricks and techniques used on the court to maximize your experience in the sport is crucial.

The forehand is the most effective shot for lawn and table tennis. Other standard shots include backhand, serve, and volley. Follow the above link for details of all these moves and the comprehensive list of tennis shots.

Helix Odhiambo photo
Helix Odhiambo
Helix Odhiambo is an award-winning Kenyan journalist and content creator with over 6 years of experience. In 2016, he won the Goal Blaze Correspondent Award for young writers.