Why are Snooker and Pool Cues So Different?

April 04, 2014 15:38

Predator Throne 3 American Pool Cue

Many newcomers to either snooker or pool will not realise that there is a difference in the types of cues available, and that these differences are created on purpose. More experienced players will be aware of the differences but may not know why.

In this article I will explore the differences and why the manufacturers create cues in these differing ways.

Snooker Cues

These would have originally been referred to as Billiard cues, but as that game died out the snooker game flourished and was for the most part played on the same size table with the same size balls.

Snooker Cues are created with a very straight taper creating a very strong and stiff cue. This stiffness is what tends to give the snooker cue it’s unique feel and will also mean that a player will have to compensate for cue ball deflection when playing with side spin.

The cue tip is generally around 9.5mm in diametre and is designed to give good control and performance when playing with a full size snooker ball of 52.4mm. Of the cues I am going to be discussing in this article this represents the middle of the road both in terms of tip size and cue ball size.

A snooker cue will also tend to have an ash or sometimes a maple shaft, these do have slightly different playing characteristics but are still created the same way when spliced onto the butt section. Whether the cue has a joint along it’s length or is created as a one piece you tend to find a length of 57″ or 58″ in most snooker cues.

English Pool Cues

These are a good place to follow on from a snooker cue as in most cases they are created in a very similar way and to an untrained eye would probably look exactly the same. Again you tend to have an ash shaft spliced into ebony or rosewood with a very straight taper.

The difference with an English Pool cue is that you are playing on a smaller bar-sized table of either 6ft or 7ft length and coupled with this you have a cue ball that is slightly smaller than the object ball. In this case it is 48mm opposed to 51mm. This makes the cue ball very light. Because it is lighter and needs to travel less far around the table you do not need to strike the cue ball as hard. So, these cues are then created with an 8.5mm cue tip as standard and you also find that the standard length drops slightly to 56″ or 57″.

You may think that 1mm is a miniscule amount of difference between snooker and English pool and in terms of actually measuring the amount it is but it makes a massive difference to playing control and the amount of spin you can generate.

American Pool Cues

The final type of cue is an American Pool cue and these are generally the behemoths of the cue sports world. American Pool is played on a table that is usually 9ft in length with a fast napless cloth and bigger balls than both snooker and English pool.

The American pool ball is 57mm in diametre and this is for both object and cue ball, this extra size makes them heavier. Because the balls are heavier they require a cue that can stand up to the job and that is why you tend to find that an American pool cue is around 58″ length and is a two piece construction with a very robust joint system.

The shaft (top section of the cue) is made of maple and has two different tapers, European, which is straight and more like that of a snooker cue, and Professional which can only be described as a funnel shape going towards the tip starting about 4 inches into the shaft.

With the amount of spin used and the need to get the cue ball around the table a lot you also find that these cues have developed numerous advanced technologies over the years like low deflection shafts, but that is for a completely different post.

To give better control the maple shafts are then topped with 12-13mm cue tips.

Visually American Pool cues are a lot different and have often got a lot of intricate design work in the butt and also grips or wraps in the butt section.


It is important that you choose the right tool for the job, as any builder or craftsman would do, it will not be of benefit to buy one cue to play all of the different cue sports due to the difference in table and balls and weight and feel. Instead pick a cue that is right for the type of table you are going to be playing on, or for the game that you love the most.

If you use this guide as a rule of thumb then you will invariably be on the right path.

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