Difference between American and English Pool Tables

American vs. English Pool Tables: What Are The Differences?

Whether you were browsing our range of products or are looking for a specific pool table, you may have noticed that there are two different styles - English Pool Tables and American Pool Tables. When it comes to buying a table for your home or space, we understand that this may cause confusion or add another layer to the all-important decision - what pool table is the best one? What are the differences? Does it matter?

If you're new to the world of snooker and pool, or you do have your head in the game but aren’t sure of the specifics, here we’re defining the differences between English and American Tables.

English Pool Tables:

Emperor UK Pool Table in White with Black Cloth

The English-style pool table came from quite noble beginnings - A number of Kings and Queens would play a game of pool as one of their many pastimes, so much so that it was even dubbed the "Noble Game of Billiards" in around the 1800s. Since then, the English game of pool has gone through a number of changes throughout the decades, but one thing has remained the same - it is the first and often most widely recognised form of the game.

Although pool table sizes do differentiate, particularly on custom builds, a traditionally regular-sized English pool table is 7ft and is therefore the size that most professional competitions also use. However, UK tables can also come in smaller sizes of 6ft or under if space is limited, or larger sizes of 8ft and up, all depending on the space you need to fill.

An English table will also have various features that sets it apart from its American counterpart. This includes distinctly smaller pockets, smaller billiard balls (around 56mm in size) and are typically played with cue sizes of 48 inches, or 57 inches. This ultimately depends on the space available, but for a more traditional game these are the cue sizes that are used.

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American Pool Tables:

Olhausen Maxim Pool Table in Brushed Aluminium / Black Finish

In the 1700s, billiards tables and the game itself weren’t hugely popular, with interest being minimal. However, during this period of time a group of American cabinetmakers joined together to create a premium billiard’s table for the game, made solely for those who had an existing interest. However, by the 1830s, popularity had grown extensively, to the point where there were public rooms dedicated to the game, though at this point, the tables and the game itself were still in the English style.

Years then passed before an individual by the name of Michael Phelen came along, an immigrant from Ireland whose love for the game of billiards saw him put together a book on the rules and behaviour of what would be the American version of the game, as well as the design that a generic American pool table would then take.

American tables are closely aligned to their English pool table counterpart in appearance, but diverge slightly on sizes. The standard American Pool Table is sized at either 8ft or 9ft, with the latter being the official size used when playing professional USA Pool. The standard cue used for playing is also a similar size to that of an English pool table, at around 58 inches.

Other features that the American Pool Tables hold over their English counterparts include billiard balls that are slightly bigger by 1mm, making that 57mm instead of the previous 56mm, and larger pockets around the table to accompany the increase in pool ball size. Around the table itself, the rails that work to keep the balls on the table are also known to frequently feature diamond system markings: these are used to improve accuracy and overall performance of the game, especially for those who are geometry-minded when it comes to play.

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If you're still a bit bewildered, we'll finish off with a comparison chart below, so that you can understand the differences between the pool cues, balls and the table itself:

Features of the table American Pool Table English Pool Table
Average Size of Pool Table 9ft (Official US Professional Size), 8ft 7ft (Most common), 6ft, 8ft
Average Size of Pool Cue Full size 58 inches Full size 57 inches
Average Size of Billiards Ball 57mm 56mm
Cloth Materials Used Smooth, allows for fast play Furry feel, added ball friction, can be slower
Diamond system marking? Mostly Not necessarily

Difference between American and English Pool Tables