The game of billiards belongs to a diverse family popularly referred to as “cue sports.” Games in this category all share some commonalities – like the use of a cue stick and billiard balls and play on a cloth-covered surface – but all have their distinct characteristics and require different skill levels.

Here’s a look at billiards’ two “siblings” in the cue sports family:

  • Carom billiards is played on a pocket-less table that’s about 10 ft. long and only requires three balls – a red object ball, a white cue ball and a dotted white cue ball for the opponent (some variations call for an extra object ball). In the most basic form of carom, players score counts (the game’s term for points) by “caroming” their cue ball off both the object ball and the opponent’s cue ball. Historians have traced the game back as early as 18th century France and since that time it’s morphed into several variations from cushion caroms to artistic billiards.
  • Snooker is played on a six-pocket table that measures about 12 ft. by 6 ft. – rather oversized compared to a standard billiards table that runs 4.5 ft. by 9 ft. at its largest. The game calls for 22 balls (15 red, six different colors, one white) and starts with the red balls in a triangle and the other colored balls on marked positions on the table. Players score points when they “pot” the red and colored balls (knock them into the pockets) – in the correct sequence – with the cue ball. Each of the six colored balls is worth different points, ranging from two to seven, and the player who scores the most points wins the match. According to legend, snooker was invented by British officers stationed in India in the 1870s and is still popular in many British Commonwealth countries.

What do you think? Ready to give one of these games a try?