Hi everyone! I would like to talk about my experiences when I switched from playing snooker to pool and the differences I encountered. After a lifetime of playing snooker, in 1995 I made the switch to playing pool, 9-ball in particular. There are some significant differences that I observed as I made the transition, and I’ll point out several. A snooker player approaches the table differently and uses some different mechanical movements than a pool player.
Snooker began in India, which was at the time a British colony, by officers stationed there. The game utilizes 15 red balls and 6 balls of other colors. The object in snooker is to score the most points. The red balls are worth one point each, and the other colored balls are worth from two to seven points apiece. The reds stay down as they are pocketed, and the colored balls are re-spotted when they are pocketed. The game is played on a 12’ x 6’ table with narrow pockets and uses smaller, lighter balls than those used in pool.
It took me a while to get used to the reaction of the object and cue balls as they came off a rail. The rails are cut differently and, therefore, they respond differently. In snooker more stun shots and draw shots are used, whereas in pool, because they can spin the ball easier, a pool player tends to use more rails and topspin. The age of the cloth you are playing on will make a difference. If you are playing on a new cloth, the ball tends to slide (skid) more, and spin reacts differently and is harder to control.
The cloth on a snooker table is directional and has a nap. This type of cloth has a long “playing life,” which is important to the room owners. This makes the game a little more difficult to play, as you have to allow for a roll when shooting slow shots against the nap. For example, when shooting in to the side pocket going against the nap, you will have to aim about an inch or two from the pocket, and the ball will curve in. The cloth that the professionals play on in televised events is shaved twice, making it faster and removing the nap. This type of cloth removes the need to compensate for the nap when aiming.
My snooker cue is 54 inches in length, weighs 19 ounces, and had a 10-millimeter tip when new. Over the years I wore it down to 9 millimeters. My Cuetec pool cue, by contrast, weighs 18 ounces, and is 56 inches in length. I initially used a 113/4-millimeter tip but found I didn’t like it, as I wasn’t controlling spin very well. To improve this, I switched to a 13-millimeter tip. Snooker players in general hold the cue near to the butt, which is why cues tend to be a person’s shoulder height on average. The cues are generally made from ash and ebony, maple and ebony, or rosewood, and have a brass ferrule. Pool players very seldom hold a cue at the end or near the butt. They tend to hold the cue somewhere on the wrap.
At the time I was playing snooker, 90 percent of the players stood squarely at the table and faced the shot. Steve Davis, a top player who dominated throughout the 1980s, influenced this. He had everything in line, from his elbow through his head and down to his right leg. Joe Davis (not related), who dominated snooker several decades prior, sighted under his left eye and consequently stood more like a pool player stands. He had a straight left arm and positioned his feet differently than snooker players of today. His left foot would point parallel to the line of the shot and his right turned out about 60 degrees, opening his stance up.
Probably around 90 percent of all snooker players, including myself, have a slight hesitation at the back of their stroke that enables me to get my eyes focused on the object ball prior to my final delivery. Ninety percent of all pool players have their hesitation at the front of the stroke. Either is fine as long as there is a good rhythm and understanding of what you are doing.
One of the hardest differences to overcome between the two games is that while at snooker you get rewarded for scoring points, in 9-ball only the 9 ball counts. Mentally, the games are very different. In snooker it is easy to be defensive, whereas in 9-ball you need to be able to play offense, as safety play can be very difficult, especially with the jump shot being legal.