The Difference Between American and English Pool

American Pool vs English Pool

At Luxury Pool Tables, we offer a variety of game types to be played on our high quality pool tables. However, this blog will focus on the difference between American Pool and English Pool, as well as the tables they are played on. In truth, the two game types are largely very similar, the differences come within the finer details of the games, including the table size, pocket size, ball size and cue size. These are discussed below.

The first thing to note is that the rules in American Pool and English are slightly different at a professional level, however, the main rules of English and American Pool are the same, so a full knowledge of all the rules isn’t necessary for causal use, if you have a basic understanding of either game types.

Table sizes

The biggest difference between American and English Pool is the table size itself. American Pool Tables are bigger than English Pool tables because American Pool uses larger balls and pockets. American pool tables used in competitions are 9ft in size, however, for practicality reasons, we have found 7ft and 8ft tables more common. This is because they fit into buildings easier and require less room. This being said, the smaller American pool sized tables are still perfectly able to play an excellent game of American Pool.

English Pool is played using smaller balls and smaller pockets, hence competition tables are only 6ft. Therefore, this means tables are more practical to fit in homes. English Pool Tables can be effective from a range of sizes, from 5ft tables through to 7ft. If you looking to buy one of our pool tables and have a confined space to work with then English Pool may be the game for you because these tables can be bought in smaller sizes and are perfect if space is limited. As the smaller sized tables are adaptable and require smaller space, whilst still maintaining a high standard game.

This being said, we offer the choice up to you in terms of table size and the game type, this is just guidance and the norm for these two common game types.


Another difference between the two game types is the cloth used when playing. In American pool the cloth is called a ‘speed’ cloth and results in a faster game than English pool. The American pool cloth we provide is the Simonis Speed Cloth, this a top of the range cloth and can come in a variety of colours.

On the other hand, English pool uses a ‘napped’ cloth. A napped cloth differs from a speed cloth as it has one definite flow of direction along the table through the way the fibres in the cloth are designed. This results in more friction on the balls in comparison, hence English pool has a slower game play. The napped cloth we offer is a Hainsworth Smart Cloth, again it is a high quality cloth and can come in a variety of colours.

The two cloth types and various colours that we offer can be seen in the below images. If you are interested in buying one of our pool tables and can’t decide on the cloth colour, we can send you larger cloth samples to aid your choice.


American Simonis Speed Cloth


English Hainsworth Smart Cloth


Another large differences across the two game types is the ball sizes.

American Pool uses larger balls, and is played with the spots and stripes design on the balls. All American Pool balls are 2 1/4 inch, including the cue ball (the white ball), as well as this American pool balls are heavier. The American pool balls that we offer are Aramith and Aramith Pro spots and stripes balls, Galaxy balls and Supa Pro balls.

Whereas, English Pool balls are smaller, only being 2 inches in size and can be played using the spots and strips, or the classic red and yellow balls. In this version, all the balls are the same size and weight apart from the cue ball (the white ball). The cue ball in English pool is slightly smaller than the rest and is lighter. The English pool balls that we offer are Supa pro balls, Aramith balls (spots and stripes or red and yellow) and Aramith Pro balls .

Below is an image of a set of English Pool balls, and a comparison between the sizes of English Pool and American Pool


English sized Pool Balls in Spots and Stripes


Image highlighting the difference in size between the English (Left) and American (Right) Ball sizes

Pockets and Cushions

The fourth key difference between American and English Pool is the pockets and cushions.

In the American version of the game, the pockets are much larger to compensate for the larger balls. This design of the pockets and cushions in the American game allows for an interesting gameplay. For example, the larger pockets, in some respects, makes it easy to pot especially along the cushion! However, the style of the cushions are sharper/angled, making a shot into the side of a pocket slightly harder, and requires a more direct shot to ensure a successful pot.

On the other hand, in English Pool the pockets are marginally smaller and tighter to accommodate for the smaller balls and table. In contrast, the cushions have a much smoother gradient in towards the pocket. The overall shape of the cushions differ from American Pool as well, in the English version the cushions are sloped. Like American pool, the difference in cushions and pockets, means a different game play. For example, when playing parallel to the cushion, the more curved edges of the pocket, makes potting more difficult.

The two cushion and pocket types can be seen in the images below, as well as the balls in each image showing the relative size of each pocket.


Image showing English Pool Ball, the pocket size and the smoother/curved cushion design


Image showing American Pool Ball, the pocket size and the sharper/straighter cushion design


The final difference between the two games is the cues used for each game. In the American game, the cues used have a thicker tip, as a result of having larger tables and balls, we offer American pool cues in 57″, 52″ and 48″. The cue sizes differ due to making playing more comfortable dependant on the table size that you have. These cues have a wide, plastic tip, this is because the plastic has absorptive properties which is necessary when playing with the larger and heavier balls.

In contrast, English Pool cues have smaller tips made of compressed leather, and has a feral made from brass for added strength and protection. The tips on English cues are smaller to allow for a precise shot when playing with the smaller balls. We provide cues in 48″, 52″ and 57″, again the cue size should be bought in correlation with your table size.

We hope you found this blog useful in determining whether English or American Pool is the game for you. If you do have any further questions or queries then please feel free to contact us!