Why are Pool Tables Green? (And Other Cool Billiards Facts)

Why are pool tables green? It is all because of tradition. Cue games such as billiards, snooker, and pool all have their origins in outdoors sports played on a lawn. Billiards is the oldest game out of these, and a version of this was being played by the French court as early as the 1300s. In fact, King Louis XI had the first indoors billiards table in the world!

The History of Billiards and Pool

The French court led the way in fashion, and over time, the outdoor game died out and indoor billiards took off in popularity in England and France. The green table cloth, or baize, is supposed to resemble a lawn or a sports field and this tradition has just stuck. So the reason why are pool tables green can be traced back over 600 years and the French.

Billiards was the most popular game and there were various versions and different games developed from this, including snooker and pool. Out of the three games, pool has the most disreputable image.

The word pool means “bet,” and in the 19th century, pool tables became popular in betting shops for horse racing – allowing patrons to pass the time between races.

Back then, a pool hall meant a betting room, and it wasn’t until the early 1900s that this changed to the more modern meaning. A pool hall still has a bad reputation, and this hasn’t really changed over the past few hundred years, even though today the game is enjoyed and played by millions across the world.

Green vs. Blue Pool Tables

Pool tables are not always green. In the 1970s, when U.S. TV was covering the U.S. Open Pocket Billiards Championship, the black and white TV coverage made it hard to see the balls on a green background.

The table color was switched to blue, which provided better definition and made it easier for viewers to see. Today this is a new tradition that has led to blue pool tables still being used in championship games in the U.S. However, there is no real reason for this, and today you can buy pool tables in a range of colors. Green is still the most popular but red, blue, pink, gold, or any colour you like is available.

Apart from color, pool table material is not all the same. An English pool table will have a fuzzy feel to the texture of the cloth, whereas an American pool table is smoother which leads to a faster game.  So be careful if you cross the Pond and take on a stranger at pool, because this difference will take time to get used to!

Pool became popular again in the U.S. back in the 1960s thanks to films such as “The Hustler,” starring Paul Newman. The film was revisited in the 1980s, when Tom Cruise and Newman starred in the “Color of Money,” the sequel to “The Hustler.” This led to the opening of new pool halls in the U.S. In the UK, pool is generally played in pubs, with most of them having at least one pool table.

So why pool tables are green? The simple answer is that they are not always green, but if you like to stick to tradition, this colour is the one with the most history!