A Brief Look at the History of Pool Tables

Pool or billiards is an indoor game that originated in Europe and spread to England before moving on to the U.S. Billiards is believed to have developed as an indoor version of lawn games such as croquet. At around 1500s French nobility and others began installing billiards tables in their homes. The green cover of the table was meant to imitate the green grass and the borders were simple wooden planks to keep the balls from rolling off.


For a long time, the balls were struck using a mace with a large head. However, this was difficult when the balls were close to the walls of the table and players started using the tail end or queue in French which soon became cue in English. However, women were not allowed to use the cue for a long time as it was feared that they would have less control and damage the cloth.


The billiard counters and balls could be made of wood, clay, or in the case of the rich ivory. The game caught on and many versions developed. The two basic versions are the carom games where there are no pockets and the pool games where there are pockets.


While the first walls of the pool table were wooden planks, many players realized that they could be used to bounce the counters or ball against. This effect was enhanced using rubber walls and when Goodyear vulcanized rubber this was used as part of the rails of pool tables.
People also started using slate as the base for the table covering because of the level surface it provided. Chalk also began to be used to increase friction between the cue and the all.


Initially, the game was called billiards either from the French word for stick or ball. However, in the US it began to be called in association with its use in pool rooms. The pool is a word for collective betting and was used in games such as poker as well as in horse racing. The horse racing establishments provided a billiard table as part of the entertainment in the pool room when gamblers waited between races. However, the word soon began to be associated with the game of billiards and not the gambling pool.


Room For many years the pool room was a place dominated by men where they gathered to smoke, drink, and gamble. The atmosphere made it difficult for women to take this sport. Later, pool lost its charm as people moved to outdoor co-ed recreational games. However, billiards gained in popularity after the release of Newman’s film The Hustler.

Current State

Modern pool rooms are clean and well maintained and welcome both men and women. Many women now have access to coaching and practice and are able to compete professionally as well. With pool tables and pool games becoming more respectable, it is now a common pastime for both men and women.