I am often asked if a particular table is either a billiard or snooker table – simple answer is they are both the same. So how come the confusion?
Originally the game of Snooker didn’t exist but Billiards did – played on a Billiards table. With the advent of Snooker and its increasing popularity, due in no part to it being an easier game to play (Billiards is difficult to become proficient at), people began to call them Snooker tables.
Though the dimensions of the tables and materials has remained the same, there are some differences between older tables and more modern ones. The pockets on older pre-1900s tables tend to have tighter pockets and the pocket plates, especially the middles can be quite close to the slate fall, often making power shots “jump” back out on to the table bed!! Later tables have easier pockets with the plates set further back.
The standard size of a full size snooker table is 12ft by 6ft 1.5 inches. This is the size of the slate bed, the actual playing area is less as the cushions project inwards over the slate. The overall size is slightly larger as the cushion timber projects outwards from the bed. The cushions are “T” shaped in section.
During the 1980s there was an attempt to produce a standard metric size table – however, rather than just use metric measurements to match the imperial sizes, these were made 3 inches shorter and 1.5 inches less in width, no idea why, but they did not prove popular though quite a few were made. We usually only notice these tables when marking them out only to find the blue spot way out of line with the centre pockets!
Attempts have been made to replace the beds with steel [rust stains the cloth], concrete [almost impossible to get level], glass ([too expensive], plastics [not heavy enough and prone to warp]. So slate continues to be used as it is heavy, relatively easy to machine and provides a very hard smooth flat surface. Because the grain of slate runs sideways it does not warp or sag so long as it’s thick enough.