Difference between English Pool Tables and American Pool Tables

Superpool supply English Pool tables and American Pool tables. A brief history of how the English pool table came into circulation started back in the 1950’s and 60’s when most pool tables were imported from America and Europe. However, these tables were generally too big for our pubs and clubs and by the 1970’s with the huge increase in popularity for pool a UK company, Superleague, entered the market and created the English pool table we all recognise today. 

Below is an extensive description of the differences between English and American pool tables. 

English Pool Tables 

English pool tables are usually played in pubs, clubs and home environments in the UK and the game played on an English table is often considered more technical as opposed to speed and power. Due to the surroundings that you will usually find an English pool table in, the design is smaller in size than American pool tables to facilitate this. This design was created using the standard snooker sizing measurements, i.e., 7’x 4’ and 6’ x 3’, however, with English pool tables the measurement refers to the external measurement of the table not the playing surface. 

English Pool Tables are available in three sizes: 6’x 3’, 7’x 4’ and 8’x 5’. These are commonly referred to as 6’, 7’ or 8’ tables. The size of table used for official tournaments are 7’. 

The slates used on an English pool table are usually thinner than slates used on   American tables, generally no thicker than 21mm. Also, as the internal playing measurement on an English table is smaller the slate is typically supplied in one complete piece. 

Due to the resizing of the table to suit the UK’s needs, the pocket size of the English table is smaller than the pocket size of the American table with the width of the pocket determined by a ball pocket ratio formula. This formula is: ball size x 1.6 equals pocket opening with a tolerance of +- 1/8”. This is measured across the fall of the pocket. On corner pockets the fall of the pocket occurs at the point where the projected lines of each cushion face cross. On centre pockets the fall being the point at which the ball should drop.  

English Pool balls are smaller than their American counterpart. The balls are 2" in size with exception to the white ball, which has always been made smaller due to coin operated tables. The white balls for English Pool  are 1 7/8".

English Pool ball vs American pool ball size

When it comes to game play the English pool table pockets have a pronounced, rounded shoulder which makes for a much trickier shot, as the shoulder can rebound the shot in almost any direction.  

Generally English pool table cushions are designed to have a flatter L-shaped profile compared to the American table. The result of the difference in this profile to game play means that it produces a moderate ball rebound which suits slower skilled shots. 

English Pool Table cushion vs American Pool Table cushion

Traditionally English tables tend to use a napped cloth; however, speed can be used instead and has become very popular. The cloth used for English pool tables is made from wool with fibres that are woven. The direction of the weave of the wool causes a ‘nap’ which is smooth in one direction if you run your hand down the length if the table.  For game play nap has effect on the ball at slow speeds and promotes precision and accuracy rather than speed and power.  Read more about the different types of cloth.

When it comes to the pool cues used then for an English pool table then English cues have a smaller tip, this is between 7.5mm-11mm. This design allows for accuracy rather than power, preferable for game play to best utilise the fact that balls are smaller than the American. The body of the cue is generally made of Ash and the pool cue tends to be thinner. The tip will usually be housed in a brass feral. 

American Pool Tables 

In the UK you will generally find American pool tables are in Bowling Alleys or Pool halls. American pool tables are often, mistakenly, considered a more powerful game easier because of the bigger, faster area of play and bigger balls. 

With an American Pool table the size of the tables refers to the internal playing surface area not the external measurements. Therefore, the American pool table sizes of 7’x 4’, 8’x 5’ and 9’x 6’, (commonly known as 7’, 8’ and 9’), are the internal area of play measurements, The external area will therefore be bigger. The official tournament size for an American table used is 9’. The slates used for American pool tables are usually thicker than English pool tables, and normally will be supplied in 2 or 3 pieces for easier handling and transportation. 

With the larger internal playing area for an American table the pocket size is also larger. The American table’s corner pocket opening size should be between 4.5” and 4.625”, and centre pocket openings between 5” and 5.125”.  The mouth of the centre pocket is traditionally 1/2” wider than the corner pockets. When it comes to game play this allows for more powerful shots.  

The American pool table also use a 2 1/4-inch ball set. These balls are bigger and heavier than their English counterpart. 

The design of the cushion profile of an American table is triangular in comparison to the English L-shape. For game play this narrow-pointed profile gives a very responsive bounce, which is perfect for rebounds and fast long shots. 

The cloth used on American pool tables tends to be a napless cloth, referred to as speed cloth. This American cloth is usually made from a synthetic material, which is thinner and smoother to touch. The smoothness of this cloth means that it has less resistance/friction, and with no nap, means the balls roll much further and faster, thus suiting the fast powerful game on an American table.  Read more about the different types of cloth.

When it comes to the pool cues used for the American pool table, American cues have a larger tip usually between 12 and 14mm and the feral is usually made of plastic. The cues are typically made from Maple wood and are thicker than the English counterpart. The plastic feral acts like a shock absorber, which is perfect for striking the larger and heavier American sized balls.