Most people have played a game of pool at some point in their life – some pot a few balls while sipping down a couple of beers in their local bar; others take it more seriously. Some even make a living out of it! But pool has a more interesting past than the beer-stained pool table down your local bar may suggest. So let’s find out some more…
5. Pool Actually Started Outside
That’s right, all billiards games (so bar billiards, snooker, carom and pool) are all descended from an outdoor game that resembled croquet – which was popular in France during the 1400s. The game was so popular that during the long winters the game was transferred indoors as a table game – the traditional green felt represents the lawn.The word ‘billiard’ comes from the French word for ‘mace’, as before the days of pool cues the game was actually played with a wooden mace style instrument.
4. Play Pool, Go To Hell
During the 1500s the Catholic Church actually denounced playing pool as a sin (although what wasn’t back then?). In France the game was actually banned for a number of years. Many years later in the early history of the United States of America, pool was actually banned in a number of states. However, the great American tradition of the speak-easy included pool tables, of which Thomas Jefferson was a known illicit owner.
3. The Cushions Were Just To Stop the Balls Falling Off
Well that would rather ruin your game if every time you hit a ball with a little bit too much gusto it rolled off the table! The original ‘banks’ on tables were installed to stop this problem, however it didn’t take crafty players long to work out that they could shoot balls off of them to hit different angles – hence we now have the ‘bank shot’!
2. The First Female Champion – Was a Man
Let’s just say that in the 1890s not many things were as politically correct as they are today. Pool was one of them; with women pool players getting a bit of a rough ride. Still there were some championships around, and the first recorded one was won by a ‘lady’ under the name of Frances Anderson. After going unbeaten for 25 years and winning plenty of wagers, she finally revealed her name was Orie – a man. Still that’s quite the dedication to a hustle!
1. The ‘Cool’ Pool Keeps Changing
Until the 1920′s, billiards worldwide were heavily biased towards carom – the more traditional variety of the game. The game we now know as pool was dying; played by just a few old men. Well how times have changed. Now pool is played in pool halls, bars and pubs worldwide; whereas carom is relegated to a few French working men’s clubs. However this switch has happened several times around – could it be time for carom to be making a return? You heard it here first!
Written by: Stuart Kerr