How Billiards Has Evolved Through the Ages

Pool has been a worldwide pastime as well as a professional sport for centuries. It is one which reaches a diverse range of people and can be enjoyed at all levels of ability. In the United States, the 2019 Dafabet World Pool Masters drew half a million fans over Facebook Live, as well as the television and in-person spectators. The final match received record viewing numbers.

The history of pool is entrenched in gambling. Since the Supreme Court ruling in 2018, states can legally allow sport betting on a state level and New Jersey was one of the first to pass its laws. New Jersey legalized online betting in June 2018 and through rigorous checks and standards you can find the best sports betting site in New Jersey with security and comfort, according to

The most recognizable form of billiards was first documented in France in the 1340s. Starting as an outdoor game it eventually moved indoors, onto the green tabletops to resemble grass and played by nobility.

By the 19th century the queue developed into the style we use today, and pockets were added to the table to change how it was played from the obstructions and targets first used.

Michael Phelan was seen as the father of American Billiards. He emigrated to the United States from Ireland and in 1850 wrote the first American book on the game. He devised rules and standards for playing the game.

The first pocket billiards used just two balls, with opponents looking to pot the others to win. More balls were added to mean more players could play. Each player then used a different colored ball and were numbered, which has gone on to be used in the pool that we see today.

The term “pool” comes from a collective bet, and that is how the game developed. During the 19th century American Poolrooms were betting parlors for horse racing. As a way to entertain their patrons, pocket billiards tables were brought in to be played between races.

The first pocket billiard championship in the United States was played in 1878 and professional players became so well known that they became featured on cigarette cards.

Post-World War 2, the game declined in popularity before being revived due to the release of the 1961 film “The Hustler”. Paul Newman starred as the leading man and the popularity of the film brought people back to the game. Pool Halls opened across America and the invention of the coin-operated table helped give the sport its largest boost.

Just over two decades after The Hustler came out, Tom Cruise stared in “The Color of Money”. A sequel to The Hustler, the film saw him reach a new generation of movie fans and stir up excitement for the game once again.

Nine-ball pool is the most popular form of the game in the United States today and its tournaments are frequently televised for national and international audiences.

Some of the sports stars over the years have included:

Efren Reyes

Efren Manalang Reyes

Often considered the greatest player to ever play the game. The Filipino player still holds the record as the first pool player to win the World Championships in two different disciplines.

He earned his fame in the Philippines during the 1980s before moving to the United States. He became the first Asian inductee in the Billiards Congress of America’s Hall of Fame in 2003.

Willie Mosconi

Nicknamed “Mr. Pocket Billiards”, Mosconi dominated the tables in the 1940s and 1950s. His use of new and inventive trick shots made him a hugely popular figure in the sport, and he won the World Straight Pool Championship an unmatched 15 times between 1941 and 1957.

Though it has now been bested, he held the world record of a officially recognized straight pool high run of 526 consecutive balls over five decades and in 1966 became one of the first three people inducted into the Billiards Congress of America’s Hall of Fame.

Rudolf Wanderone

Famously known as “Minnesota Fats”, Wanderone was the most publicly recognized pool player in the United States during his heyday. He was known not just for his ability on the table, but as a true entertainer.

After becoming a travelling pool hustler in his teens, he went on to play professionally and he would claim that the creation of the character “Minnesota Fats”, played by Jackie Gleason in the film The Hustler, was based on him. However, Walter Tevis, the man who wrote both “The Hustler” and “The Color of Money” denied this and said the character was purely a creation of his own imagination. Nevertheless, he was known as Minnesota Fats from the day he first made the claim until the die he died.

Billiards/Pool has reached all sectors of society, from the very rich to the poor. It is a game that is not assigned to a specific class or culture and one which can be enjoyed by all.

This has helped boost its popularity continuously at all levels of the game and the young players who start have players to watch and learn from. It will continue through the generations and continue to be a big part of American culture in the future.