The history of pool, also known as billiards, has been a beloved pastime for centuries, evolving from a lawn game similar to croquet played in the 15th-century in Northern Europe.

Let’s review the history of pool and billiards, tracing its journey from the royal courts of Europe to the modern pool halls dotting cities across the globe. Join us as we explore the origins, evolution, and the legends who have shaped this fascinating sport.

The History of Pool and Billiards

Pool’s history began in the 15th century. Initially a lawn game, it transitioned indoors onto wooden tables covered with green cloth to simulate grass.

The term “billiard” is believed to have originated from the French word “billart,” meaning mace, which was an implement similar to a golf club used in the early games.

Evolution of the Game:

As the game evolved, the mace gave way to the cue stick by the late 17th century.

The introduction of the cue led to the development of new skills and techniques in striking the ball.

The industrial revolution in the 19th century brought advancements in table design. This included the use of slate and the invention of rubber cushions, enabling a faster and more consistent game. (Thank you for that!)

Legendary Players:

  1. Willie Hoppe: Known for his skill in carom billiards, Willie Hoppe was a dominant force in the early 20th century, winning numerous world titles.
  2. Rudolph Wanderone, Jr. (Minnesota Fats): A charismatic figure, Minnesota Fats became synonymous with pool in the United States, popularizing the game in the mid-20th century.
  3. Efren Reyes: Hailing from the Philippines, Efren “The Magician” Reyes is revered for his creative shot-making and is considered one of the greatest pool players of all time.

Historic Matches:

  • Willie Mosconi vs. Minnesota Fats (1978): This widely televised match brought pool into the limelight. Willie Mosconi, known for his precision play, faced off against the flamboyant Minnesota Fats, in a contest that showcased the sport’s skill and personality.


  • Efren Reyes vs. Earl Strickland (1996): Dubbed the “Color of Money” match, this game featured two of the greatest players of the time in a high-stakes nine-ball showdown, epitomizing the intensity and thrill of modern pool.


The History of Pool

The history of pool and billiards is not just about the evolution of a game. It’s also about the stories of the people who have played it and the cultures that have embraced it.

From royal courts to neon-lit pool halls, this game has transcended time and geography, becoming a universal language of skill, strategy, and sportsmanship.

As we continue to enjoy and evolve the game, we remember and honor the legends who have made pool what it is today.

Do you have a favorite pool legend or a historic match that inspires you?

More information about cue sports on Wikipedia.

You might also be interesting in these best-selling books:

Bestseller No. 1
Playing Pool - The Missing Manual: 20 things that every pool player should know
  • Baumann, Patrick (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 82 Pages - 02/01/2015 (Publication Date) - CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (Publisher)
Bestseller No. 2
Basic Pool: The Ultimate Beginner's Guide (Revised and Updated)
  • Cranfield, Arthur "Babe" (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 232 Pages - 11/01/2016 (Publication Date) - Skyhorse (Publisher)
SaleBestseller No. 3
Byrne's Complete Book of Pool Shots: 350 Moves Every Player Should Know
  • Byrne, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages - 10/06/2003 (Publication Date) - Mariner Books (Publisher)