Why Pool?Reprinted with permission from www.lilbitsandpieces.com
Why is it that we call something that has absolutely nothing to do with water a Pool Game? Originally the game was called Billiards and is, of course, still referred to as such by the pros. The term billiards comes from the French. The root words are either 'billart' which is one of the sticks or 'bille,' which means ball. The sport had its beginnings way back in the 15th century in Northern Europe.
The evolution to what we in America know as Pool has been long and drawn out. The sticks were initially called maces and had a rather large tip. Players, when faced with a tight shot, would turn the stick around and shoot with the smaller end or 'queue' which means the tail end. Eventually the size of the sticks decreased and we began to refer to them as a 'cue'. The act of putting 'English' on a ball was developed in, of course, England in the 1820's when the leather tip was perfected. The English refer to this technique as 'side', only in America is it alluded to as 'English'.
The prototype game was played with two balls on a six-pocket table with a hoop similar to a croquet wicket and an upright stick used as a target. During the eighteenth century, the hoop and target gradually disappeared, leaving only the balls and pockets. Fifteen-ball billiards was developed in America. The tables were installed in houses where bets or pools on horses were made. The idea was to give the gamblers something to do between races. Gradually the houses took on the name of 'Pool Rooms', which was an unsavory designation in those times. There are many varieties of billiards played all over the world. Snooker is a form that is extremely popular in England. It has gone from being an unsavory parlor activity to a sport of great popularity.