When Was Pool Invented? 10 Interesting Facts About the Game

when was pool invented

If you like to play pool, you're not alone. It's a very popular game, with pool tables having a presence in many basements, lounges, and a variety of other locations. You might sometimes wonder about the history of the game, including asking the question, when was pool invented?

When Was Pool Invented?

If you've played pool, you probably know that there is a variety of different games that you can play with a pool cue, table, and balls. The history of pool and billiards is quite rich and long. You might be curious about it, asking questions like "When was pool invented?"

Pool initially evolved from a lawn game that shared a lot of similarities with croquet. What we can consider the oldest ancestor of the modern game of pool started sometime during the 15th century in northern Europe as an outdoor game. However, it eventually moved indoors.

When it moved indoors, people played the game using wooden tables with green cloth that simulated grass. People referred to pool as the "Noble Game of Billiards" in the 1800s, to denote the fact that it was mostly royalty and other nobles who played this game. However, there is evidence that it was familiar to people from all walks of life since its inception.

White ball ready to hit pool balls on billiard table

Image by Skitterphoto from Pixabay

The game evolved in many ways and in several different directions since its beginnings. Players modified the game for centuries, before the origins of pool as we know it today in the early 1900s.

"When was pool invented?" is a good question. The answer depends on what you consider to be pool. The first predecessor of the game you know today that people actually referred to as pool started in Britain in about 1770; people referred to it as "English Billiards" at the time.

Of course, there was a significant amount of evolution between English Billiards and the game you know today. It went through a few more iterations before becoming modern pool. Modern pool found its beginnings in 1910, with 8-Ball having started shortly after 1900, and 9-Ball around 1920.

What Is Pool?

You might want to know more about pool itself, in addition to knowing the answer to the question, when was pool invented? As you have seen, the game of pool has evolved a great deal to become the popular game that people play today. Pool as we know it today evolved from the old style billiards.

The game involves 1 white cue ball and 15 additional colored balls. You hit them with a pool cue, and you play the game on a pool table. There are many variations of pool, but they all involve you trying to hit all of your balls into the pockets before your opponent does. You use the pool cue to directly hit the white ball, which hits another ball in a particular direction.

Two guys playing billiards

Image by andreeg2 via Pixabay

The first person to get one of the colored balls into a pocket now has to get all the balls that match it into the pockets (meaning all the solids or all the stripes). The other team has to get all of the other balls in if they want to win. There are seven striped colored balls, seven solid colored balls, and one black eight ball.

You need to get all of your balls into the pockets and then hit the eight ball in to win. If you hit the eight ball in before you have gotten the other balls into the pockets, you automatically lose the game. This version of the game only came about in the 1900s. You might see this as the best answer to the question, when was pool invented? However, the game evolved many times to become this version.

​10 Interesting Facts About Pool

There are many notable facts about the game of pool, other than the answer to the question, when was pool invented? The game has a rich history that is worth knowing for any aficionado.

1. Safety first!

If you have worries about injuries, pool is an excellent choice for you. Many see it as the safest sport in the world. Think about it. When you play pool, you can't fall off of anything, and you don't have to deal with anyone trying to tackle you. You don’t even have to run or jump.

You likely won’t even work up a sweat unless you end up particularly anxious about winning the game. This also makes it an excellent choice for people who may have disabilities and can’t exert themselves too much. It’s great for everyone!

2. Pool as a pioneer

Man about to hit the pool ball using cue stick

Image by dife88 via Pixabay

Believe it or not, billiards was the first sport ever to have a world championship game. This took place in 1873.

3. Both rags and riches

Many people know pool as a great equalizer. It has always been a popular game with the rich and poor alike. It was one of the few things that brought the aristocrats and the masses together.

4. Pool rooms weren’t always pool rooms

Now, when someone talks about a pool room, they mean a place where people play pool. However, this wasn’t always the case. In the 19th century, a pool room was a betting parlor. People would go to these parlors to bet on horse races.

At some point, pool tables came to be a presence in these parlors in order to give patrons something to do between the horse races. “Pool” actually initially referred to betting, not the game of billiards. However, the public came to associate the game with these parlors. Now, as you know, there are plenty of pool rooms that have nothing to do with betting or gambling.

5. A game of the cloth

If you’re wondering what makes up billiard cloth, you may find it surprising that the main component is what it was over four centuries ago. They used wool in the 1500s, and it remains the fabric of choice for modern pool players. Of course, it isn’t exactly the same. Manufacturers often create this material now using wood and nylon blends.

6. Paying to play

You can almost always play pool for free these days. However, there was a time when there were pay-for-play tables. In 1903, the first coin-operated billiard table received a patent. The cost of a game with this first table was one penny. You may scoff at that, but remember that a penny used to go much further than it does now.

7. Animal rights activists, avert your eyes

These days, manufacturers make pool balls out of celluloid, resin, or other new-age plastic mixes. However, it used to be ivory that composed billiard balls. Billiard balls came from the very center of an elephant’s tusks. Since they couldn’t use the outer portion, the average tusk would only yield three or four balls.

8. The biggest and best

The largest billiard hall in the world came to be during what pool enthusiasts refer to as the Golden Age of the game. “The Recreation” was a vast seven-story health spa. It became a very successful business in Detroit in the 1920s.

In this building, there were 103 pool tables. People there could also enjoy 88 bowling lanes, 3 manicuring stands, 20 barber chairs, and 14 cigar stands. They could also eat at the restaurant that seated 300 and any of the lunch counters on every floor.

There was also an exhibition room that could accommodate 250 spectators with its theater seating. People knew this hall for billiards, but it had much more to offer than just the chance to play pool.

9. The chalk isn’t really chalk

Green pool table

Image by Fuzz via Pixabay

Throughout the majority of the 1800s, players would use carbonate of lime on their leather cue tips. People knew this as blackboard chalk. However, the chalk that pool players use today is actually a mixture of fine abrasives. It doesn’t contain a speck of actual chalk.

10. It can provide tales of inspiration

There are many differently-abled people who have played pool. You might find it shocking, though, that one of the best players that the world knew played without either one of his hands.

“Handless George” Sutton lost both of his hands in a sawmill accident when he was eight years old. Despite the fact that there were no advanced prosthetics in his time (1870-1938), he set an 18.2 Balkline world record with a run of 799 in the game of billiards. He toured the country and fascinated audiences with his skills for almost 35 years.

​Ready, Set, Hit!

There's no denying that pool is a lot of fun. Whether or not you're a skilled player, it's a great pastime to enjoy with friends and family. It makes sense then that you'd want to know a little bit more about the history of the game.

Classic billiard pool hall

Image by Skitterphoto via Pixabay

Just look at the answer to the following question: when was pool invented? There are so many different games that led up to the game you know and love today. Every time you see the green surface of your pool table, you now know that the color is a subtle nod to the fact that people played the original version of the game outdoors on the grass.

Next time you play pool with your friends, you can enjoy it even more. Knowing the rich history of the game and all the interesting and quirky facts about it will make it all the more fun to hold the pool cue and aim for the right ball. Have fun, and try not to scratch! Let us know what you think of everything you've learned about the great game of pool by leaving a comment!


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