Pool table

Category: Archive Sports and Fitness

History of billiards

Billiards was born a long time ago, but the exact dating of this game has not yet been carried out. However, according to many experts, similar games already existed among the ancient Athenians, since there are some sculptures representing what could be a forerunner of billiards as we know it today. Rather than a certain historical dating, we can speak of a series of anecdotes that report the growing enthusiasm, over the centuries, for this game, gradually perfected also thanks to the technical innovations that allowed the creation of billiard tables, marbles and increasingly functional splints. According to some, modern billiards began in 1429, when a book containing the rules of the game was published in Paris. It would also seem that kings and queens, not to mention men of letters and generals, were interested in this pastime, both in Europe and in the neighboring United Kingdom, where there was a slightly different version of the billiard tables adopted on the continent, a version that gave rise to other variations on the game. According to others, however, it was an Englishman, Enrico Deligne, who invented billiards, who followed the opposite path of diffusion. It is a fact, however, that towards the end of the 1600s billiards were played both in the courts and in the homes of modest farmers or artisans, discovering how the passion for billiards had managed to conquer various social classes. In any case, it was in the United States that billiards was perfected, both from a technical and playing point of view. Towards the mid-1800s it was an American, Phèlan, who invented the elastic side covered in green cloth and it was also an American company that began the industrial production of modern billiard tables. The construction materials were then replaced, mainly abandoning ivory – precious and difficult to find – for artificial resin, with which marbles are still made today.

How to choose the pool table

The spread of the billiard game goes hand in hand with the demand for tables to use at home but, often, you don't have clear ideas when choosing the product that best suits your needs. There are numerous types of billiard tables and the choice also depends on the type of game you are used to. The area in which to place the pool table is also important, since you must have enough space to play comfortably. Usually, at least in Italy, the most popular game is "American pool", not excessively complex from a technical point of view but very engaging. Six-hole billiard tables are used for this specialty. If, however, you prefer some carom variables, then you will have to choose a table without holes. To calculate the size of the billiard table it is necessary to point out that the space around it is not just a question of convenience but of the possibility or otherwise of playing the game. In fact, if the short slats are 120 cm, you will need to leave at least as much space all around the table itself, although it would be preferable to orient yourself around 150 centimeters, so as to leave the possibility of moving even the longest slats with precision. However, the environment in which the table will be placed cannot be neglected. Here, therefore, style and design become two focal points in the choice process, so as to be able to have not only a useful product but a real piece of furniture capable of giving maximum prominence to the room in which it is placed. In fact, it is not a given that you necessarily have to settle for a pool table with classic lines if you prefer a piece with a contemporary design: companies today produce products for all tastes and for every type of need.

Traditional pool tables

If it is true that there are numerous types of billiard tables, it is also true that they can all be traced back to five main ones. Let's look at them in detail to better understand which product is actually right for us. The first type of billiards is the one without holes. It is also identified as international billiards and is used to play any type of Italian specialty. Its dimensions are around 284×152 centimetres. We can say approximately, given that smaller versions are also marketed. Billiards with large holes, on the other hand, are perfect for playing American and also English specialties. The dimensions can vary between 210×118 cm and 257×146 cm. The different size also implies a more or less large playing surface, as well as different mechanisms for returning the ball, which can take place on the exact side of the table, in a collection tank also made of mesh and leather. Narrow pocket billiards were used extensively during the late 1980s and are suitable for many specialties. The dimensions were between 260×130 and 280×140 centimeters and some models could also be covered and used as tables in all respects. However, it is a product that is no longer very widespread, so those who choose it are more attracted by the furnishing value of the piece than by its recreational use. The largest billiard table, in terms of size, is the one with net pockets, still used today to play snooker. The dimensions are 366×183 centimeters and only for the Russian specialty Pyramid a smaller version of the same is used. The holes are net and there is no collection basin nor does the ball fit into the table like in pool tables. It is perhaps the best known pool table, since it is characterized by a bright green cloth and white leather covers of the hole light. Finally, we have transformable pool tables, perfect for use as dining tables as well as gaming tables.

Other models

In addition to the traditionally marketed types, you can have billiard tables with particular characteristics, which fully harmonize with your furnishings, as well as being able to respond to the space constraints of our homes. For example, there are particularly light models, which can be easily transported from one room to another. Furthermore, they often have a slate surface on which the cloth is already inserted, in order to facilitate assembly. The products with cover cloths are designed to offer the double advantage of being both pool tables and dining tables, so as to be able to maintain two functions in one. The versions for children are interesting, since they fully meet the needs of those who have little space but do not want to give up playing billiards, allowing their children to have a first approach to this game, with lots of fun and without making a very demanding purchase. The sides, in fact, are made of rubber, albeit with an "L" profile, to allow the ball to bounce correctly. The recovery of the balls is manual, through special compartments located in correspondence with the holes. As we have seen, for snooker – a popular variant of the game played in the United Kingdom and Ireland – you will have to purchase a large table, in addition to the appropriate cues and numerous balls, given that 15 red ones are used, 6 of assorted colors and a white one. Professional pool tables obviously have specific and more advanced features and can be of different sizes, with or without a coin mechanism. In some cases, they can also be transformed into gaming tables. Coin operated pool tables are used in bars or gaming rooms. The coin acceptor can be mechanical, electromechanical or electronic. What changes is the way in which the marbles are expelled, although in essence they are very similar products.


The billiard table is rectangular in shape and is covered with a cloth, the traditional color of which is green, although today other colors are also used, such as blue or red, in order to introduce a certain stylistic variety. As we have seen, its dimensions are not standard but undergo various variations depending on the type of game you intend to play. On the other hand, the greatest constraints exist for billiard tables for professional use, while those for domestic use can more easily simply be in tune with the tastes and needs of the owner. If you prefer or if you have specific needs, some companies specialized in this type of production will create a custom-made pool table for the user, naturally upon specific request. The traditional playing surface is the one called billiards and has four holes in the corners and two in the longer sides of the table, while the one used for carom does not have any holes. It is important that the billiard table is of excellent quality, given that even a minimal difference in height would distort the outcome of the game. In fact, on billiard tables, a small level is also mounted, a sort of bubble that shows how exactly the table is level. The edges of the billiard table must ensure that all ball rejections occur correctly, without giving particular effects or angles to the balls. Professionally used billiard tables often have interchangeable sides and excellent quality slate tops, so that they can also be used during sports competitions. Some versions may feature an automatic heating system, in order to reduce the friction of the marbles on the cloth. Competitions are always played with new cloths and some billiard tables are already delivered with replacement cloths.

Production and selling

When you intend to buy a pool table, you will have to take care to choose a good quality product, because it is the type of game itself that requires special attention for the game surface. Specifically, you will have to be sure of the flatness of the game table and its stability. This is why slate is always preferable, a material that does not undergo deformations depending on atmospheric and environmental conditions. The billiard table must have a bubble that allows you to check its flatness and adjustable feet to change the height if it is not "level", as they say in jargon. To last over time, the billiard table must be sturdy: the choice of quality raw materials will not only be a guarantee for its durability but also for its aesthetics, given that many choose to buy a billiard table also for its its beauty. The companies that make them generally target both professional and business or amateur customers. Obviously, since there are differences in price and also in appeal, it will be a good idea to view those models that best suit your needs. For those who don't have great expectations, however, the second-hand market can certainly offer products at a good price and of sufficient quality to take the first steps in this fascinating world. Among the main Italian companies operating in the sector, we remember Cavicchi , which produces new billiard tables and also sells good used ones, conveniently available via the internet. Another specialized company is Adami Biliardi , also interesting for those who need specialized consultancy for the restoration of antique billiard tables. Finally, Biliardoshop is a site specialized in the sale of game tables and accessories. The purchase can be completed online and delivered directly to your home.

Published: 2011-10-14From: Redazione

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