Pool, also known as pocket billiards, is the family of cue sports and games played on a pool table having six receptacles called pockets along the rails, into which balls are deposited as the main goal of play. Popular versions include eight-ball and nine-ball.






Historic print depicting Michael Phelan\'sBilliard Saloon in New York City, January 1, 1859.


Outside the cue sports industry, pocket billiards is (in English) more commonly referred to aspool, due to perhaps an association with the poolrooms where gamblers pooled their money to bet off-track on horse races. Because these venues often provided billiard tables, the term pooleventually became synonymous with billiards. Though the original "pool" game was played on a pocketless carom billiards table, the term later stuck to pocket billiards as it gained in popularity. As the traditional view of billiards as a refined and noble pastime did not blend well with the low-class connotations of gambling, the billiards industry began to distance itself from the term poolbeginning in the late 19th century.


There are hundreds of pool games. Some of the more well known include eight-ballnine-ball,straight pool, and one-pocket. The game of snooker is played on a table with pockets but is considered to be its own cue sport and is governed internationally by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (professional) and International Billiards and Snooker Federation(amateur). There are also hybrid games combining aspects of both pool and carom billiards, such as English billiards, American four-ball billiards, cowboy pool and bottle pool.


As a competitive sport, pool is governed internationally by the World Pool-Billiard Association(WPA), which has national affiliates such as the US Billiard Congress of America (BCA), and which represents pool in the World Confederation of Billiard Sports, which in turn represents all forms of cue sports in the International Olympic Committee.