History of Billiards

History of Billiards

While many people don't think of billiards as having a long tradition, the game itself can be dated back to early modern Europe, where it emerged from lawn games played by nobles. Often played in England and France, the game developed into its modern structure from lawn croquet, where the modern table game was developed in the 17th century as a new form of entertainment. Much of the language commonly associated with modern billiards stems from this era – the term “cue” derives from the French word for “tail”, which referred to the end of the stick used in early versions of the game while the sides of the table looked like riverbeds, giving rise to the use of the term “bank shots” to refer to shots off of the sides of the table.

In the 18th century, the game began to emerge in its modern form when it began to appear in early New England bars influenced by European habits. One of the most influential earlier American billiards players was Michael Phelan, who began to develop a series of rules and writings about the game, organizing a series of competitions as well as creating a company that would help expand the game across the early country.

Early forms of the game relied upon Four-Ball play, which emerged as a result of the smaller sizes of the tables. The scoring system was unique and gave rise to modern billiards, which led to the emergence of modern “Championship” billiards in the late 19th century. The game became highly popular n in the United states in the early part of the 20th century, especially in the pre-war era when billiards halls emerged throughout the country. The game saw a revival and expansion in the 1960s, which led to its widespread adoption, including representation in films such as “The Hustler” and “The Color of Money” which showed the undersides of the game, along with the emerging professional fields.