Snooker vs Pool: Which Cue Sport is Harder to Play?

snooker harder

Cue sports, such as pool and snooker, have long captivated players and enthusiasts with their strategic gameplay and precision shots.

Both pool and snooker require skill, focus, and mastery of the cue to excel in the game.

However, the question of which one is more difficult to play is a subject of debate among cue sport enthusiasts.

In this article, we will explore the intricacies and challenges of both pool and snooker to determine which one demands more skill and expertise.

1. Table Size and Configuration
2. Number of Balls and Scoring
3. Complexity of Rules and Fouls
4. Cue Ball Control and Positional Play
5. Strategic Elements
6. Mental Aspects and Concentration
7. Conclusion

Table Size and Configuration


Pool tables come in various sizes, with the most common being 7 feet, 8 feet, and 9 feet in length.

The smaller table size can make the game more approachable for beginners and recreational players.

Pool tables have six pockets, one in each corner and two on the long sides, making pocketing balls relatively easier compared to snooker.


In contrast, snooker tables are much larger, measuring 12 feet by 6 feet, with the elongated table demanding precise positioning and control of the cue ball.

Snooker tables have smaller pockets, requiring players to pot balls with higher accuracy and finesse.

The larger size of a snooker table creates a more challenging environment for players, as they must cover a greater distance to navigate around the table effectively.

The tight pockets add to the difficulty, making pocketing balls a test of precision and control.

Number of Balls and Scoring


Pool is typically played with 16 balls, including 15 object balls (solids and stripes) and one cue ball.

The objective is to pocket all the balls of your designated group and then sink the black 8-ball.

In games like nine-ball, the rules introduce additional complexity, as players must contact the lowest-numbered ball on the table with the cue ball during each shot.

This requirement creates a strategic element in choosing the best shots and patterns to ensure the proper contact is made.

snooker harder
Efren Reyes is considered by many to be the best ever pool player.


Snooker, on the other hand, is played with 22 balls – 15 red balls worth one point each, and six differently colored balls with varying point values.

The colored balls must be potted in a specific order after the red balls have all been pocketed.

Snooker players aim for high breaks, where the points earned in a single visit to the table can exceed 100, known as a century break.

The maximum possible break in snooker is 147, achieved by potting all the reds with blacks followed by the six colored balls.

The multi-colored ball aspect of snooker adds an extra layer of difficulty, as players must think strategically about which color to pot next to maximize their break.

The ability to plan several shots ahead and execute them flawlessly requires exceptional skill and concentration.

Complexity of Rules and Fouls


Pool has relatively simple and straightforward rules, making it accessible to beginners.

Players take turns shooting, aiming to pocket their designated balls, and pocketing the 8-ball to win the game.

While there are fouls in pool, the rules are generally less intricate compared to snooker.

The simplicity of pool’s rules allows players to focus more on the execution of shots and less on navigating through an extensive rulebook.

This straightforward nature can be appealing to newcomers to cue sports, as it provides a relatively quick learning curve.


Snooker has a more extensive and complex set of rules, which can make it more challenging for players, especially newcomers.

The game involves not only potting balls but also positioning the cue ball for the next shot.

Players must avoid fouls such as hitting the wrong ball first or failing to hit any ball during a shot.

Fouls in snooker can result in a significant point penalty or ball-in-hand for the opponent, making each shot crucial in the game.

The intricate rules in snooker add an element of mental engagement and strategic thinking.

Players must constantly be aware of the foul possibilities and plan their shots accordingly to avoid giving their opponents an advantage.

Cue Ball Control and Positional Play


While cue ball control is vital in both games, pool places more emphasis on potting balls and less on precise positional play.

Pool players often rely on skillful potting and less on the need for perfect positioning for every shot, especially in the eight-ball variant, where players can often choose between solids and stripes.

The shorter distances on the pool table, combined with fewer balls on the table at once, can make positional play in pool comparatively simpler.

Players can often recover from less-than-ideal positions with exceptional potting abilities.

snooker harder
Ronnie O’Sullivan is widely regarded as the greatest ever snooker player.


Snooker, being a game of finesse and precision, demands meticulous cue ball control and precise positional play.

Players need to plan several shots ahead to navigate around the table, potting balls, and positioning for the next color.

The intricate positional play in snooker sets it apart from pool and requires a high level of skill and experience to excel.

The longer distances and larger table size in snooker create more significant challenges for cue ball control.

The ability to position the cue ball accurately for the next shot is vital to keep the break going and accumulate points effectively.

Strategic Elements


While strategy plays a role in pool, particularly in games like nine-ball where players must call their shots, it is generally less prevalent compared to snooker.

The alternating nature of play in pool often allows players to focus on their designated balls and potting them in sequence.

In games like nine-ball, players must plan their shots strategically, considering the position of the cue ball after potting the current ball and the subsequent shots in the sequence.

However, the strategy in pool is more immediate, focusing on the immediate shot or a few shots ahead.


Snooker is a game of strategy and tactics, where players must plan and execute break-building sequences to accumulate points efficiently.

The strategic complexity of snooker arises from the need to choose the correct balls to pot, play effective safeties, and use the right pace and spin to gain advantageous positions on the table.

Planning and executing a successful snooker break requires the ability to think several shots ahead, considering the positional requirements of each shot to keep the break going.

Players must also be proficient in safety play, using defensive shots to force their opponents into challenging positions.

Mental Aspects and Concentration


Both pool and snooker require intense concentration, but the pace of play in pool can be faster, with fewer balls on the table at once.

This faster tempo may suit players who prefer quick decisions and action-packed games.

The quicker pace of pool can lead to shorter individual games, creating a more dynamic and fast-paced playing experience.

This can also translate to less time to dwell on mistakes or missed shots.


Snooker’s slower pace and more significant number of balls on the table demand unwavering focus and patience.

Players must stay composed, maintain mental discipline, and handle the pressure of high-stakes situations.

The extended frame duration in snooker means players must maintain their concentration over a more extended period, which can be mentally challenging, especially in critical moments of a match.


After a thorough analysis of both pool and snooker, it becomes evident that snooker stands out as the more difficult and challenging cue sport to master.

Snooker’s complexity stems from its larger table size, smaller pockets, a greater number of balls, and a more intricate scoring system.

These factors demand an unparalleled level of precision, cue ball control, and strategic thinking from players.

The size of a snooker table alone presents a substantial challenge.

Covering the vast expanse of the table requires players to have exceptional positional play and the ability to plan several shots ahead.

The tight pockets on a snooker table demand unparalleled accuracy in potting balls.

In contrast, pool’s larger pockets can offer some leniency in potting balls, reducing the difficulty level in comparison.

Moreover, snooker’s more extensive set of rules, including a comprehensive list of fouls and penalties, calls for players to maintain a higher level of concentration throughout a frame.

The slower pace of snooker frames, along with the higher number of balls on the table, demands unwavering focus and composure from players.

In conclusion, while both pool and snooker are exceptional cue sports with their own unique challenges, snooker emerges as the harder and more complex game to play.

Snooker stands as a true test of a player’s precision, strategic prowess, and mental fortitude.

Photos: Wikipedia Commons

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