Any of various games played on a cloth-topped, cushion-railed rectangular table by driving small, hard balls against one another or into pockets with a long stick called a cue. Carom, or French billiards, is played with three balls, two white and one red, on a table without pockets. The object is to stroke the white cue ball so that it hits the two object balls in succession, scoring a carom (one point). English billiards is also played with three balls but on a pocketed table; it is scored in various ways. Snooker is another popular British billiards game. The principal billiards game in North America is pocket billiards, or pool. The Billiard Congress of America controls U.S. tournament play, including the U.S. Open Pockets Billiard Championship, regarded as the world championship.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on billiards, visit

Seen & Heard

What made you look up billiards? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.