The Best Pool Movies (Plus Three Great Pool Shots Explained)

The Best Pool Movies (Plus Three Great Pool Shots Explained)

It’s the same principle as mastering a card trick when it comes to pool. The beauty is in the nonchalance, in the delivery of what appears to be an impossible with a sense of natural elegance. Moreover, it is in movies that this type of sleight of hand is most visible and pronounced, when the plain mortal is capable of superhuman feats, all of which are preserved on film to verify that they actually occurred. Take a look at these three trick shots from some of the finest pool flicks ever created.

These are the types of shots that can be encountered in every game.

Developing the abilities to execute these trick shots, and even better, discovering them on the table, will be more beneficial to your game than the standard contrived circus-style shots.

The most essential thing to take away from these three shots is the need of using your imagination on the pool table when you find yourself in a difficult situation.

1. The Hustler

This 1961 film is widely recognized as the finest pool movie ever created. It was released in theaters in 1961. Described as “one of the rare American films in which the hero wins by submitting, by embracing reality instead of his ideals” by critic Roger Ebert, the film is considered a classic. The material in the film is weighty, and Jackie Gleason and Paul Newman’s direction of the shots is outstanding. Despite the fact that straight or 14.1 continuous poolwas the game of choice in The Hustlerand is presently out of style, the movie that triggered a rebirth in pool in 1961 is still remembered today.


Straight pool requires you to call every shot, including those taken during the break. Because it is nearly difficult with 15 balls in the rack, the greatest players play it conservatively on the break in an attempt to keep the balls as undisturbed as possible while also concealing the cue in order to not give their opponent a chance to score. The Challenger, played by Paul Newman, did an outstanding job of doing exactly that, and the Champ, played by Jackie Gleason, didn’t have much to work with at the start of their long fight.

When you factor in the popularity of doubles pool and the varying levels of skill at most games played in bars and at home (and the fact that alcohol is frequently a factor, as well as over-macho breakers who frequently miscue), it’s not uncommon for the balls to remain partially bunched up at the break.

If you’re playing for pleasure and no balls were pocketed, you always have the option to re-rack. However, this is not always the case.


The shot Gleason takes here is not a trick shot in the traditional sense. When he looks at the scenario, he notices that there is a shot among what appears to be a random assortment of balls. With a solid hand, he strikes what is likely to be a four or five ball combination, which finally results in the six going into the corner and breaking up the balls neatly. In fact, Fats notices that the Six is “Dead” in the corner of the room. Therefore, he just has to get his hands on the ball that it will be touching in order to knock the six into the corner, and he will be successful regardless of where the ball is struck.

Finding a dead-ball is a godsend for a player, and the ingenuity lies in the process of locating one.

It’s also a good-looking shot, and if you use it on people who aren’t aware that the ball was dead in the first place, you may be accused of being a hustler yourself.

2. The Color of Money

The narrative of Fast Eddie Felson was picked up by Martin Scorsese 25 years after the events of The Hustler in this 1986 film, which is a strong second on the list of the top pool movies and concentrates on the increasing popularity of nine-ball pool. If you think Cruise’s toothy grin and good luck wishes and samurai-sword motions after racking up one hit after another as a rising hustler are deceiving, think again! He became a student of the game in the same way that Newman did in 1961, and the majority of the scenes in the film are taken from real life.

The Setup:

It is possible that when the nine-ball is placed perilously in front of a pocket, it will result in frantic action in that game when the only ball that matters is the yellow-striped ball. Vincent appears to be tied for second place behind the player who has no shot. You can see it here.

The Creativity

In fact, learning how to bend the cue ball is one of the most pleasurable skills a novice can learn. However, masse shots of this nature are exceedingly difficult to manage and should only be utilized in exceptional circumstances. The ingenuity in this photo is two-fold, and, as with the previous examples in this piece, it all comes down to the choice of which shots to use. First and foremost, even if Vincent did not have to bend the cue, recognizing when you have a look at the nine and deciding to terminate the game early is critical to success in nine-ball games.

When done correctly, they are also one of the most visually appealing pictures available. And if you take down an en masse shot to secure a victory, you will almost certainly be dubbed a Hustler. From the book The Color of Money, you may learn more about billiards shots.

3. Poolhall Junkies

Mars Cunningham created, acted in, and directed this 2002 film, and he is clearly a force to be reckoned with behind the camera, pulling off some really challenging shots throughout the film. Christopher Walken, on the other hand, steals the show, and it is his amazing monologues and his unique manner that really elevate this film. He is also a natural at the pool table, at least when it comes to on-screen play, and there is a lot to be learnt from this stroke. (As a side note, Walken is said to have made this shot on his first attempt during what was meant to be a practice run, during which he instructed the cameras to roll just in case he succeeded.)

The Setup:

It appears that the cue has become frozen (stuck to) the object ball, in this case the Eight, and that both are locked on the rail. This is one of the most challenging setups in pool to get a ball into the pocket.


A wonderful example of making a shot when there isn’t one that is immediately visible and when one would ordinarily want to play it “safe” is this shot. If the eight were placed in front of the side pocket, one would play a “kick” towards the opposing rail, with the cue returning in the same manner that Walken does with the cue. Kicks are incredibly makeable shots once you have them in your arsenal, thus learning how to do them is a fantastic skill to have. What this shot demonstrates, however, is that Walken must position the object ball such that it may be booted into the side pocket when the cue returns to the side pocket.

  • It is not difficult to just slightly nudge the Eight enough to have it sit in front of that side, and utilizing the right speed and angle on the cue-ball and having it return to knock the eight into the side is not a difficult shot to execute flawlessly either.
  • The most important step is actually seeing the photo in question.
  • It’s true that Cunningham is an expert at the pool table, and PoolHall Junkiesis a solid third on any list of the top pool movies.
  • (Side-note 2: There is also a clear wink to this photo.) A freelance journalist, Hart Fowler lives in the lovely Appalachian Mountains of Virginia with his wife and two young children.
  • He also works as a ghost writer, but you’ll have to get in touch with him personally if you want to talk about it further.

Shots From Pool Movies

The following articles provide an overview of the films and demonstrate and explain the majority of the most intriguing shots:

  • ” Billiards on the Big Screen –The Hustler” (BD, August 2004)
  • ” Billiards on the Big Screen –The Color of Money” (BD, September 2004)
  • ” Billiards on the Big Screen –Pool Hall Junkies” (BD, October 2004)
  • ” Billiards on the Big Screen –The Hustler” (BD, August 2004)
  • ” Billiards on the

The films “The Hustler,” “The Color of Money,” and “Pool Hall Junkies” are discussed, as well as a number of other films that are addressed and explained in detail. Here are some examples of famous movie shots demonstrated in action:

  • 8-ball bank hustle shot (NV A.2), Illegally pocketing a ball with cue follow-through (NV A.3), Cue ball carom into a frozen-ball combo (NV A.4), Perfect setup object ball carom shot (NV A.5), Massé-draw billiard (carom) shot (NV A.6), and 8-ball bank hustle shot (NV A.7).
  • The following shots are in the NV A.7 category: post safety, dead on, frozen carom, two-rail kick shot
  • NV A.8 category: frozen bank, corner rattle artistic shot
  • NV A.9 category: frozen kick off rail shot
  • NV A.10 category: power draw for run-out position
  • NV A.11 category: partial jump shot, dead-on combination shot
  • NV A.12 category: power draw for run-out position
  • The following shots are included in this section: NV A.12 – Partial jump shot
  • NV A.13 – Frozen cue-ball carom-kick shot
  • NV A.14 – Double bank-carom or bank-double-carom shot
  • NV A.15 – Kick shot from the jaws of a pocket
  • NV A.16 – Rail-assist jump shot

Other Hollywood films with a billiards subject that are less well-known include:

  • ” Baltimore Bullet ” (1980)
  • ” The Baron and the Kid ” (1984)
  • ” Shooting Gallery ” (2005)
  • ” Walkaway Joe ” (2020)

A far more comprehensive list of all known pool movies, television programs, and short films can be found here. ” Donald in Mathmagic Land,” a Disney film that includes a billiards scene, is another unusual choice. TheCorner-5 Systemfor targeting 3-cushion kick shots is introduced in an interesting manner beginning at the 16:47 mark in the video. Dr. Dave has chosen to keep this website free of commercials and advertisements. If you like the free materials, please consider giving a one-time or recurring monthly gift to express your appreciation:

Straight pool – Wikipedia

Straight pool

A traditional straight pool rack with the 1 and 5 balls at the bottom corners, and all other balls placed randomly
Highestgoverning body World Pool-Billiard Association
First played 1910
Contact No
Team members single competitors or doubles
Mixed gender Yes
Type Indoor, table
Equipment Cue sports equipment
Venue Indoor, table
Glossary glossary of cue sports terms
Country or region Worldwide

Pool, also known as 14.1 continuous and 14.1 rack, is a cue sport in which two competitive players seek to pot as many billiard balls as they can while not making any mistakes. When played on a pool table, the game is known as pool. It was the dominant variation of pool that was played in professional competition until it was replaced by faster-playing versions such asnine-ball and eight-ball in the late 1970s. Straight pool is a game in which the player may attempt to pocket any object ball on the table, regardless of its number or color, until just one object ball and the cue ball are left, at which point the other fourteen balls are removed from the table.

  • The objective of the game is to accumulate a certain number of points, which is agreed upon before to the start of the game.
  • Pool is normally played to 125 or 150 points in professional competition, with longer matches becoming more common as the sport grows in popularity.
  • A version of the game is featured in the 1961 film The Hustler, and it was most popular in the United States.
  • The World Tournament, which is organized by Dragon Promotions and was won by Thorsten Hohmann in 2006, was the first of its kind.


Straight pool is a variation on a previous game known as continuous pool, in which points are awarded for each ball that is identified by the player. As soon as all of the balls have been potted, a new rack is started, and the player who potted the final ball takes the break. Player ability at scoring hundreds of points in a single turn increased as the game progressed, and players frequently used defensive shots on the break to prevent their opponent from potting the 15 balls on the table. In 1910, Jerome Keogh, who had won multiple continuous pool competitions, sought to improve the offensive character of the break-off stroke by introducing a new break-off shot.

When one ball remains in the rack, the number 14.1 alludes to the total of 14 balls that make up the rack. The game immediately surpassed continuous pool in terms of popularity, and it remained the most often played pool variant until the popularity of eight-ball pool began to grow.


In the first frame of straight pool, fifteen object balls were racked, with the center of the apex ball being positioned above the foot spot of the table. According to tradition, the 1st ball is placed in the rack’s right corner, while the 5th ball is placed in the rack’s bottom left corner. Other balls are set at random and must come into contact with their neighboring balls. In contrast to other pool games, the goal of straight pool’s traditional opening break shot is to deny the opponent the opportunity to pot a ball on the first attempt.

  • Some shots, such as ascaroms and combinations, do not require the use of a signal.
  • A foul is called if one of these requirements is not met at the time of the play.
  • The opponent can also choose between accepting the table in its current position and having the balls re-racked, so causing the offending player to replay the initial break.
  • The intragame rack is often laid out in this manner.
  • Straight pool is distinguished by the racking game that is played when just one ball remains in the pool table.
  • When it is necessary to replace a rack and neither the cue ball nor object ball is still present in the rack area, the balls are changed with no ball at the apex.
  • When either ball is in the position where the balls would normally be racked, there are additional regulations that must be followed.
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Highest runs

Straight pool is a game where talented players can pot all of the balls in a single rack and keep doing so for long stretches of time. On March 19, 1954, Willie Mosconi set a new world record by scoring 526 points in 36 racks of billiards. Earlier in the day, Mosconi was competing in a race-to-200-points match in Springfield, Ohio, against an amateur player named Earl Bruney. The first three points of the game were scored by Bruney, but Mosconi went on to win by scoring 200 points in the second half.

Three hundred and thirty witnesses, including a lawyer who prepared anaffidavit to affirm that the run took occurred, were present for the event, which was afterwards recognized by the Billiard Congress of America.

It was ultimately broken on May 27, 2019, inMonterey, California, by John Schmidt, who ran 626 balls in the process of breaking Mosconi’s record.

Criticism has been leveled at Mosconi, claiming that his record was established in a tournament whereas Schmidt just set up break shots for himself, and that his film was never made public.

Jayson Shaw accomplished a 51 rack, 714 ball run on January 18th, 2022, as part of the “Legends of Pocket Billiards” high run series as part of the “Legends of Pocket Billiards.”

Tournaments and governance

Straight pool is administered at a regional level by organizations like as the European Pocket Billiard Federation, and at a global one by the World Pool Association, which is based in the United Kingdom. The World Straight Pool Championship was first held in 1913 and continued to be held on an irregular basis until 1990. Dragon Promotions resurrected the competition in 2006 and renamed it the World Tournament. Since 1980, the European Pool Championships have had a straight pool event on their yearly schedule.

Since the 1980s, the game has been in decline, and players in the United States frequently refer to straight pool as “dead.” In recent years, the game’s popularity has waned as a result of the popularity of alternative pool games such as nine-ball and eight-ball, as well as a scarcity of straight pool championships.

Popular culture

Straight pool has appeared in popular culture on several occasions, most famously in the 1956 novel The Hustler and its 1961 film adaptation. It also serves as the scene and background for John O’Hara’s monologue short story “Straight Pool,” which is set in the same location. Straight pool, like other pool games, has long been linked with hustling and shady dealing. The Twilight Zone aired an episode titled “A Game of Pool” in 1961, which was later recreated in 1989, in which a straight pool player was brought back from the dead to participate in one final match against another straight pool player.

See also

  1. Even though the game of snooker does not have a call-pocket regulation, the break shot in straight pool is similar in nature to the break shot in snooker in that the player attempts to leave a safety.


  1. Billiards Digest published an article titled “Feb: Continuous” in February 2014. The original version of this article was archived on September 30, 2020. WPA Pool’s “Rules of Play” were retrieved on December 5, 2020. The original version of this article was published on September 21, 2018. Obtainable on December 5, 2020
  2. Ab “History.” “History of the Pool.” The original version of this article was archived on November 1, 2020. Obtainable on December 5, 2020
  3. Abcd Michael Ian Shamos is credited with inventing the term “shamos” (1993). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Billiards is a resource for those interested in learning more about the game of pool. The best break in snooker history was far greater than anyone had anticipated, according to LyonsBurford, on page 195 of their book ISBN 1-55821-19-1. deadspin
  4. “Rules of pool – 4. straight pool”.pool
  5. “Rules of pool – 4. straight pool”. The original version of this article was archived on December 5, 2020. Obtainable on December 5, 2020
  6. Abc “Official rules” (World Pool Association). The original version of this article was published on June 10, 2008. Obtainable on May 17, 2008
  7. Abc George Fels is a writer and poet (August 1, 2000). “5 – Straight Pool.”Pool Simplified, Somewhat. pp. 61–76.ISBN9780486413686
  8. “Willie Mosconi.”The Billiards. pp. 61–76.ISBN9780486413686
  9. “5 – Straight Pool.”Pool Simplified, Somewhat. pp. 61–76.ISBN9780486413686
  10. “Willie Mosconi.”Pool S The original version of this article was published on December 22, 2015. December 13, 2015
  11. Retrieved December 13, 2015
  12. The Break, “The Break August Issue 2001.” The Break, “The Break August Issue 2001.” Issuu. The original version of this article was published on December 22, 2015. Matthew, Victor (December 13, 2015)
  13. Retrieved December 13, 2015. (May 28, 2019). Following a lot of hard work, a ‘unbreakable’ record in straight pool has been surpassed. Mike Panazzo’s “For the Record” was published in The New York Times on November 18, 2019. ISSN0362-4331
  14. Panazzo, Mike. “For the record.” Billiards Digest is a publication dedicated to the game of pool. The original version of this article was archived on September 16, 2020. On October 29, 2020, “The World Straight Pool Championship” will be broadcast live. On September 29, 2005, AZ Billiards opened its doors. The original version of this article was published on June 13, 2011. “Hall of Fame – Dynamic Billard European Championships” Retrieved August 25, 2008. “Hall of Fame – Dynamic Billard European Championships”. The original version of this article was published on January 3, 2019.’s “European Pool Championships” page was last modified on January 3, 2019. The original version of this article was published on January 3, 2019. Obtainable on January 3, 2019
  15. Dyer, R.A., et al (May 1, 2005). Billiards: The Official Rules and Records Book, p. 183, ISBN 1-59228-744-1
  16. “2016 US Open Straight Pool,” p. 183, ISBN 1-59228-744-1
  17. CueSports International is an organization that promotes the sport of cueing (CSI). The original version of this article was archived on September 29, 2020. abR. A. Dyer (retrieved on December 5, 2020)
  18. (August 1, 2005). Billiards Digest published an article titled “What Killed Straight Pool?”. On January 19, 2022, the original version of this article was archived. Obtainable on February 15, 2007
  19. Robert Rossen, Jr. (1972). All the Kings Men, The Hustler, and Lilith are three screenplays that have been written. LCCN 70-175418
  20. “Review: Hustler, The”
  21. “Review: Hus The original version of this article was archived on December 5, 2020. Obtainable on January 7, 2020
  22. Points of View: An Anthology of Stories, edited by James Moffett and Kenneth McElheny (Points of View: An Anthology of Stories, Revised Edition), John O’Hara’s “Straight Pool.” Mentor Publishing Company, New York, 1995, pp. 32-35
  23. DeVoe, Bill (2008). Trivia from the television show The Twilight Zone. Bear Manor Media, Albany, GA, ISBN 978-1-59393-136-0
  24. Grams, Martin. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media, ISBN 978-1-59393-136-0
  25. (2008). How to Get into the Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Legend OTR Publishing (Churchville, Maryland), ISBN 978-0-9703310-9-0

External links

  • Straight pool rules developed by the World Pool Association (WPA)
  • 14.1 Straight Pool Videos organized by year

The 99 Critical Shots in Pool: Everything You Need to Know to Learn and Master the Game (Other): Martin, Ray, IMGS, Inc., Estate of Rosser Reeves: 9780812922417: Books

4.0 stars out of 5 for this product This isn’t mint. On February 4, 2021, a review will be conducted in the United States. The package was delivered with some damage.

Reviews with images

Purchased in the United States on August 5, 2017 and reviewed on August 5, 2017 Although I’ve been a casual player for many years, I’ve never taken any formal lessons. It just took an hour of merely glancing through the book to quickly and considerably enhance my game, which was a huge relief to me. By keeping only a couple of the notions offered in mind, I was able to see/think of a plethora of other possible images when I looked at the material I had to work with. This was my first pool book, and I found it to be simple to comprehend.

  1. It will keep me occupied for a long time, and I don’t think you’d be disappointed if it was your first book either; I believe it has all of the fundamentals that any player need at the very least be familiar with in order to be a competent player.
  2. So far, I’m enjoying the book.
  3. Despite the fact that it is useful in verifying what English to use for particular photos.
  4. The product was reviewed in the United States on March 28, 2019 and it was verified as a purchase.
  5. What this teaches you is what the ball will do as well as how to play the game.
  6. The only reason I had to purchase this was because I had given away my original copy to someone who was in desperate need of it.
  7. Purchased in the United States on August 5, 2017 and reviewed on August 5, 2017 The images, which feature on practically every page of the book, are extremely important to the story.

The issue, at least in my book, is that the gray is so dark that it seems to be black.

On July 17, 2019, a reviewer in the United States expressed satisfaction with their purchase.

When a person receives face-to-face instruction, the instructor may withhold certain information, but Mr.

He’s also written his directions in a perfect sequential order, which is very impressive.

I’d just like to express my gratitude to Mr.

Verified PurchaseReviewed in the United States on January 13, 2019Verified Purchase This book is one of my favorites, and I’ve read it several times and referred to it frequently.

The diagrams are detailed and quite useful, without being overly complicated in their presentation.

Reviewed in the United States on December 20, 2014Verified Purchase There is no way to accurately describe the impact this book has had on me.

We’re amateurs and every page is interesting and exciting.

Almost every young player that shows an interest in our League has been given one this book as an inspiration.

I can’t recommend it more highly. Reviewed in the United States on December 29, 2020 Purchase that has been verified I’ve definitely picked up some shots from this book. In fact I pick up new shots every time I open this book. Easy to read and apply to your game.

Top reviews from other countries

5.0 stars out of 5 for this product Adman Rosser Reeve’s second area of expertise On January 17, 2019, a reviewer in the United Kingdom expressed satisfaction with their purchase. In the advertising world, Rosser Reeves was one of the giants. His second string was pool, and he shares his knowledge of the game with us in this book. 5.0 stars out of 5 for this product If you enjoy playing pool, this should be your first step toward becoming a better player. On March 10, 2017, a review was published in the United Kingdom.

  1. Some excellent pointers and suggestions for improving your shot-making abilities.
  2. Purchase that has been verified 5.0 out of 5 starsExcellent book for the average infrequent player that discusses a lot of stuff that I was previously unaware of.
  3. Purchase that has been verified a rating of 2.0 out of 5 stars Beginners should only read this book.
  4. A large number of the shots described are variations of the same shot in different settings.
  5. The last 30-50 pages are largely ineffective, and they provide a dictionary of terms used in “American pool.” It is possible that I benefitted by 5 percent in total.
  6. Would be extremely beneficial to someone who has never played before or has only recently begun playing.
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Sort by Popularity – Most Popular Movies and TV Shows tagged with keyword “pool-hustler”

Drama, Biography | PG-13 | 127 minutes ‘A little girl comes of age in a dysfunctional family of nonconformist nomads, with a mother who is an eccentric artist and an alcoholic father who used to stimulate the children’s imagination with optimism as a diversion from their plight.’ The film is directed by Destin Daniel Cretton and stars Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, Naomi Watts, and Ella Anderson. The film has received 32,726 votes and grossed $17.27 million dollars. Three scientists assist an alien feline that has become stuck on Earth in order to fix its broken spaceship in order to return home, but their attempts are thwarted by incompetent army officials and foreign spies, who interfere with their efforts.

  1. It has received 5,074 votes on Rotten Tomatoes and runs for 117 minutes in the Drama, Romance genre.
  2. The film is directed by Mark Rydell and stars James Caan, Marsha Mason, Kirk Calloway, and Eli Wallach.
  3. Feature films, documentaries, history, and sports Matt Smith and Ronnie O’Sullivan, a five-time world snooker champion, study the game of pool in America and its 300-year history with it in this four-part British television documentary series.
  4. Following a setback in the ring, hard-nosed lightweight Tommy “Killer” McCoy finds himself in the company of a big-time gambler and falls in love with his educated daughter, Sheila, against her father’s intentions to the contrary.
  5. 360 votes|$2.00 MR gross|90 minutes |Drama, science fiction, sports In Australia’s post-apocalyptic wasteland, the most popular sport is Hard Knuckle pool, which is a bloodier version of the traditional game.
  6. Lex Marinos directs this film, which stars Steve Bisley, Gary Day, David Jay, and Richard Moir.
  7. 68 minutes|Crime, Drama, and Mystery New York City physician Dr.
  8. Kane had sentenced this individual to jail.
  9. Carrol Naish and Richard Lane star in this comedy drama directed by Anthony Mann.
  10. When a pool shark is slain by an unknown force, Castle and Beckett investigate and discover evidence that the perpetrator may be possessed by paranormal abilities.
  11. Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Susan Sullivan, and Jon Huertas star in this film directed by Kate Woods.

votes:951TV-Y| 47 min|Music, Romance, Drama, Votes:951 On their first day at their new school, Eye Candy faces Strawberry Fields, while Joo Byung Hee follows his muse, both of whom are played by the same actor (Im Soo Ah). Lee Min-ki, Sung Jun, Ui-chul Jung, and Jo Bo-ah are among the cast members.

About the Industry – Billiards Congress of America

  • Introduction to the Noble Game of Billiards
  • Billiards in the United States
  • Types of Play
  • World Championships and the Resurrection of Billiards
A Brief History of the Noble Game of Billiardsby Mike ShamosThe history of billiards is long and very rich. The game has been played by kings and commoners, presidents, mental patients, ladies, gentlemen, and hustlers alike. It evolved from a lawn game similar to the croquet played sometime during the 15th century in Northern Europe and probably in France. Play was moved indoors to a wooden table with green cloth to simulate grass, and a simple border was placed around the edges. The balls were shoved, rather than struck, with wooden sticks called “maces”. The term “billiard” is derived from French, either from the word “billart”, one of the wooden sticks, or “bille”, a ball.The game was originally played with two balls on a six-pocket table with a hoop similar to a croquet wicket and an upright stick used as a target. During the 18th century, the hoop and target gradually disappeared, leaving only the balls and pockets. Most of our information about early billiards comes from accounts of playing by royalty and other nobles. It has been known as the “Noble Game of Billiards” since the early 1800’s, but there is evidence that people from all walks of life have played the game since its inception. In 1600, the game was familiar enough to the public that Shakespeare mentioned it in Antony and Cleopatra. Seventy-five years later, the first book of billiard rules remarked of England that there were “few Towns of note therein which hath not a publick Billiard-Table.”Mike Shamos is the author of The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Billiards and curator of The Billiard Archive, a nonprofit organization established to preserve the game‘s history. EquipmentThe cue stick was developed in the late 1600’s. When the ball lay near a rail, the mace was very inconvenient to use because of its large head. In such a case, the players would turn the mace around and use its handle to strike the ball. The handle was called a “queue”- meaning “tail”- from which we get the word “cue”. For a long time, only men were allowed to use the cue; women were forced to use the mace because it was felt they were more likely to rip the cloth with the sharper cue.Tables originally had flat vertical walls for rails and their only function was to keep the balls from falling off. They resembled riverbanks and even used to be called “banks”. Players discovered that balls could bounce off the rails and began deliberately aiming at them. Thus a “bank shot” is one in which a ball is made to rebound from a cushion as part of the shot.Billiard equipment improved rapidly in England after 1800, largely because of the Industrial Revolution. Chalk was used to increase friction between the ball and the cue stick even before cues had tips. The leather cue tip, with which a player can apply side-spin to the ball, was perfected by 1823. Visitors from England showed Americans how to use spin, which explains why it is called “English” in the United States but nowhere else. (The British themselves refer to it as “side”). The two-piece cue arrived in 1829. Slate became popular as a material for table beds around 1835. Goodyear discovered vulcanization of rubber in 1839 and by 1845 it was used to make billiard cushions. By 1850, the billiard table had essentially evolved into its current form.The dominant billiard game in Britain from about 1770 until the 1920’s was English Billiards, played with three balls and six pockets on a large rectangular table. A two-to-one ratio of length to width became standard in the 18th century. Before then, there were no fixed table dimensions. The British billiard tradition is carried on today primarily through the game of Snooker, a complex and colorful game combining offensive and defensive aspects and played on the same equipment as English Billiards but with 22 balls instead of three. The British appetite for Snooker is approached only by the American passion for baseball; it is possible to see a Snooker competition every day in Britain.Billiards in the United States How billiards came to America has not been positively established. There are tales that it was brought to St. Augustine by the Spaniards in the 1580’s but research has failed to reveal any trace of the game there. More likely it was brought over by Dutch and English settlers. A number of American cabinetmakers in the 1700’s turned out exquisite billiard tables, although in small quantities. Nevertheless, the game did spread throughout the Colonies. Even George Washington was reported to have won a match in 1748. By 1830, despite primitive equipment, public rooms devoted entirely to billiards appeared. The most famous of them was Bassford’s, a New York room that catered to stockbrokers. Here a number of American versions of billiards were developed, including Pin Pool, played with small wooden targets like miniature bowling pins, and Fifteen-Ball Pool, described later.The American billiard industry and the incredible rise in popularity of the game are due to Michael Phelan, the father of American billiards. Phelan emigrated from Ireland and in 1850 wrote the first American book on the game. He was influential in devising rules and setting standards of behavior. An inventor, he added diamonds to the table to assist in aiming, and developed new table and cushion designs. He was also the first American billiard columnist. On January 1, 1859, the first of his weekly articles appeared in Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly. A few months later, Phelan won $15,000 in Detroit at the first important stake match held in the United States. He was a tireless promoter of the game and created the manufacturing company of Phelan and Collender. In 1884 the company merged with its chief competitor, J.M. BrunswickBalke, to form the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company, which tightly controlled all aspects of the game until the 1950’s.Types of PlayThe dominant American billiard game until the 1870’s was American Four-Ball Billiards, usually played on a large (11 or 12-foot), four-pocket table with four balls – two white and two red. It was a direct extension of English Billiards. Points were scored by pocketing balls, scratching the cue ball, or by making caroms on two or three balls. A “carom” is the act of hitting two object balls with the cue ball in one stroke. With so many balls, there were many different ways of scoring and it was possible to make up to 13 points on a single shot. American Four-Ball produced two offspring, both of which surpassed it in popularity by the late 1870’s. One, simple caroms played with three balls on a pocketless table, is sometimes known as “Straight Rail”, the forerunner of all carom games. The other popular game was American Fifteen-Ball Pool, the predecessor of modern pocket billiards.The word “pool” means a collective bet, or ante. Many non-billiard games, such as poker, involve a pool but it was to pocket billiards that the name became attached. The term “poolroom” now means a place where pool is played, but in the 19th century a poolroom was a betting parlor for horse racing. Pool tables were installed so patrons could pass the time between races. The two became connected in the public mind, but the unsavory connotation of “poolroom” came from the betting that took place there, not from billiards.Fifteen-Ball Pool was played with 15 object balls, numbered 1 through 15. For sinking a ball, the player received a number of points equal to the value of the ball. The sum of the ball values in a rack is 120, so the first player who received more than half the total, or 61, was the winner. This game, also called “61-Pool”, was used in the first American championship pool tournament held in 1878 and won by Cyrille Dion, a Canadian. In 1888, it was thought more fair to count the number of balls pocketed by a player and not their numerical value. Thus, 14.1 Continuous Pool replaced Fifteen-Ball Pool as the championship game. The player who sank the last ball of a rack would break the next rack and his point total would be kept “continuously” from one rack to the next.Eight-Ball was invented shortly after 1900; Straight Pool followed in 1910. Nine-Ball seems to have developed around 1920. One-Pocket has ancestors that are older than any of these; the idea of the game was described in 1775 and complete rules for a British form appeared in 1869.Championship BilliardsFrom 1878 until 1956, pool and billiard championship tournaments were held almost annually, with one-on-one challenge matches filling the remaining months. At times, including during the Civil War, billiard results received wider coverage than war news. Players were so renowned that cigarette cards were issued featuring them. The BCA Hall of Fame honors many players from this era, including Jacob Schaefer, Sr. and his son, Jake Jr., Frank Taberski, Alfredo DeOro, and Johnny Layton. The first half of this century was the era of the billiard personality. In 1906, Willie Hoppe, at the age of 18, established the supremacy of American players by beating Maurice Vignaux of France at balkline. Balkline is a version of carom billiards with lines drawn on the table to form rectangles. When both object balls lie in the same rectangle, the number of shots that can be made is restricted. This makes the game much harder because the player must cause one of the balls to leave the rectangle, and hopefully return. When balkline lost its popularity during the 1930’s, Hoppe began a new career in three-cushion billiards which he dominated until he retired in 1952. Hoppe was a true American legend – a boy of humble roots whose talent was discovered early, a world champion as a teenager, and a gentleman who held professional titles for almost 50 years. One newspaper reported that under his manipulation, the balls moved “as if under a magic spell”, to many fans, billiards meant Hoppe.While the term “billiards” refers to all the games played on a billiard table, with or without pockets, some people take billiards to mean carom games only and use pool for pocket games. Carom games, particularly balkline, dominated public attention until 1919, when Ralph Greenleaf’s pool playing captured the nation’s attention. For the next 20 years he gave up the title on only a few occasions. Through the 1930’s, both pool and billiards, particularly three-cushion billiards, shared the spotlight. In 1941 the Mosconi era began and carom games declined in importance. Pool went to war several times as a popular recreation for the troops. Professional players toured military posts giving exhibitions; some even worked in the defense industry. But the game had more trouble emerging from World War II than it had getting into it. Returning soldiers were in a mood to buy houses and build careers, and the charm of an afternoon spent at the pool table was a thing of the past. Room after room closed quietly and by the end of the 1950’s it looked as though the game might pass into oblivion. Willie Mosconi, who won or successfully defended the pocket billiard title 19 times, retired as champion in 1956.Revival Billiards was revived by two events, one in 1961, the other in 1986. The first was the release of the movie, “The Hustler”, based on the novel by Walter Tevis. The film depicted the dark life of a pool hustler with Paul Newman in the title role. New rooms opened all over the country and for the remainder of the 60’s pool flourished, until social concerns, the Vietnam War, and an increase in outdoor activities led to a decline in the game. In 1986, “The Color of Money”, the sequel to “The Hustler” with Paul Newman in the same role and Tom Cruise as an up-and-coming professional, brought the excitement of pool to a new generation. The opening of upscale rooms catered to a new type of player, whose senses may have been offended by the old cliché of poolrooms.While the game has had its heroes since the early 1800’s, it has waged a constant battle for respectability. In the 1920’s, the poolroom was an environment in which men gathered to loiter, fight, bet and play, so they were often the target of politicians eager to show their ability to purge immorality from the communities. Most rooms now bear no resemblance to those of earlier times. The atmosphere of many new rooms approaches that of chic restaurants and night clubs. They offer quality equipment, expert instruction, and the chance for people to meet socially for a friendly evening. These rooms have helped contribute to the greatest interest in billiards in over a century.
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History Of Pool

Billiards, often known as pool, is a game with a long and illustrious history. Everyone from kings and commoners to presidents and ladies and gentlemen has participated in this game.

What Is Billiards and How Did It All Start?

It is believed that billiards originated as a lawn game similar to croquet that was popular in Northern Europe during the 15th century. It has progressed from that point to the present-day style of billiard/pool table and its associated regulations. A wooden table with a green sheet to imitate grass (I’m not entirely clear why they chose grass as a simulation) and a basic border around the perimeter was set up indoors for the second half of the game. The term “billiard” comes from the French language, and is derived either from the word “billart,” which refers to one of the wooden sticks, or from the word “bille,” which refers to a ball.

From the early 1800s, the game of billiards has been referred to as the “Noble Game of Billiards,” however there is evidence that individuals from all areas of life have participated in it since its origin.

Seventy-five years later, the first book of billiards regulations made the observation that England had “few Tones of Note within which hath not a publick Billiard-Table,” referring to the lack of a publick Billiard-Table.

From Mace to Cue

The balls were originally shoved (rather than hit) with wooden sticks known as maces in the original game (which was played inside for the first time). During the late 1600s, an invention called the cue stick was created. Because of the big head of the mace, it was extremely awkward to wield when the ball was close to a rail. In such a circumstance, the players would flip the mace around and strike the ball with the handle of the instrument. The handle was referred to as a “queue,” which translates as “tail,” and is the source of the word “cue.” The shaper cue was formerly reserved for males alone; women were compelled to use the mace since it was believed that they were more likely to shred the fabric with the shaper cue than men were (it must have been all the trick shots they were trying to do).

The leather cue tip was invented around the turn of the 18th century in Europe, allowing a player to apply side-spin, topspin, or even backspin to the ball with ease.

The Pool Table

In the beginning, rails on billiard/pool tables were just flat barriers that had only one purpose: to prevent the balls from slipping off. They were previously referred to as “banks” because they resembled the banks of a river in appearance. As soon as billiard players realized that the balls might bounce off the rails, they began consciously aiming for them, giving birth to the “bank shot.” This is a shot in which the billiard ball is struck at the rail with the goal of it rebounding off one cushion as part of the shot—possibly even three, four, or five rails and into the pocket as part of the shot.

  1. After that, slate became popular owing to its durability for play and the fact that it does not warp with time, as wood may do.
  2. On the subject of table dimensions, the ratio of length to breadth adopted in the 18th century became the industry norm in this regard.
  3. It wasn’t until 1850 that the billiard table had basically taken on its current shape.
  4. The skill and ability of a professional pool player is simply remarkable!

It is referred to as “side” by the British themselves.

The Game of Pool

The term “pool” refers to a group of people placing a bet or ante together. Many non-billiard games, such as poker, make use of a pool, but it was pocket billiards that the term was first used to refer to the game. Another intriguing fact is that the phrase “pool room” currently refers to a place where pool is played, but in the nineteenth century, a pool room was a horse racing betting parlor. Pool tables were erected so that patrons may occupy the time between races while waiting for their horses.

Pool has grown into a game with many diverse flavors over time.

  • From around 1770 until the 1920s, “English Billiards” was the most popular billiard game in the United Kingdom. It was played on a big rectangular table with three balls and six pockets. Billiards tradition is carried on today primarily through the game of “Snooker,” which is a complex and colorful game that combines offensive and defensive aspects. It is played on the same equipment as English Billiards, but with 22 balls instead of three, and it is played on a table with the same dimensions as English Billiards. It is only the American passion for baseball that can match the British appetite for snooker, and it is possible to see a snooker competition almost every day in the United Kingdom
  • In the United States, the dominant American billiard game until the 1870s was American Four-Ball Billiards, which was usually played on a large (11 or 12-foot) four-pocket table with four billiard balls – two of which were white and two of which were red. This was a logical progression from English Billiards. During the game, points might be earned by placing balls in pockets, scratching the cue ball, or producing caroms with two or three balls. What exactly is a “Carom”? Performing a “carom” is the act of striking two object balls with the cue ball in a single motion with the cue ball. There were numerous various methods to score with a large number of balls, and it was possible to make up to 13 pints in a single shot. By the 1870s, American Four-Ball had spawned two offspring, both of whom had eclipsed it in terms of popularity. One of the games used simple caroms played with three balls on a pocketless table was something known as “Straight rail,” which was the forerunner of all carom games. Another game used simple caroms played with three balls on a pocketless table was something known as “Straight rail,” which was the forerunner of all carom games. The second popular game was American Fifteen-Ball Pool, which was the forerunner of modern pocket billiards. Fifteen-Ball Pool was played with 15 object balls, which were numbered 1 through 15
  • The game was played with object balls that were numbered 1 through 15. The player was awarded a number of points proportional to the value of the ball for sinking a ball. Because the aggregate of the ball values in a rack is 120, the winner was the first player to earn more than half of the total, which was 61 points, in the first round. When Cyrille Dion of Canada won the inaugural American championship pool tournament, this game, also known as “61-Pool,” it was the first time this game had been played in the United States. Later, in 1888, it was decided that counting the number of balls pocketed by a player, rather than their numerical worth, would be more equitable. As a result, Continuous Pool took over as the championship game from Fifteen-Ball Pool. Following the invention of Eight-Ball pool in 1900, straight pool followed in 1910. The player who sunk the final ball of a rack broke the next rack and his point total was kept “continuously” from one rack to the next. Straight pool was introduced in 1910. The game of nine-ball appears to have originated about 1920. When it comes to pool, some people use the term “billiards” to refer to any game that is played on a pool table, whether or not it has pockets. Others use the term “billiards” to refer to solely carom games and use the term pool to refer to pocket games. The games of pool and billiards, particularly three-cushion billiards, were both popular throughout the 1930s, with pool taking center stage.

Pool and billiard championship events were conducted virtually annually from 1878 to 1956, with individual challenge matches filling in the gaps between the championship tournaments. At times, like as during the American Civil War, billiard outcomes gained more attention than war-related news. The players were so well-known that cigarette cards with their images were created to promote them. Pool was a popular form of entertainment for troops throughout the war on multiple occasions. In addition to displaying their skills at military bases, professional players often served as consultants for defense contractors.

Returning troops were in the desire to purchase homes and start their own businesses, and the allure of an afternoon spent at the pool table was a thing of the past for them.

How Paul Newman Saved Pool—Twice

Two exciting incidents helped to resurrect the sport of billiards. The first was the premiere of the 1961 film “The Hustler,” which marked the beginning of the era. The film, which was shot in black & white and starred Paul Newman in the main character, depicts the bleak life of a pool hustler. There were hundreds of new pool halls opening all throughout the country throughout the 1960s, and the game thrived until social concerns, the Vietnam War, and a desire for outdoor coeducational activities caused interest in pool to fade.

The outcome was the creation of premium pool rooms that catered to those whose sensibilities would have been irritated by the old rooms if they had ever been exposed to them prior to opening.

Women and Pool

The poolroom was a gathering place for males in the 1920s, where they could loiter, smoke, argue, wager, and play pool together. It’s hard to imagine how the rooms of today compare to those from centuries ago. It wasn’t until quite recently that women began to enter the world of billiards. There was an intimidating environment in the poolroom that prevented many women from feeling comfortable in it. Nonetheless, since the game was resurrected from the ashes in the 15th century, women have demonstrated a strong desire to participate.

Women’s billiard abilities have traditionally been difficult to improve since male players, her family, and friends generally did not encourage her efforts, and it was difficult to locate skilled female instructors or coaches.

This has changed dramatically in recent years. As these circumstances have changed, and as they continue to change, we may anticipate women to be on par with or even better than males in terms of talent, and to push the game to new heights.

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