What is a Regulation-Sized Pool Table?

The grand game. Photo (c) MicroMachines 2007

It's one of the most common questions regarding the game of pool or billiards: What size is a regulation pool table? The short answer is: There is no one size regulation table. The only stipulation is that the table length and width must be a 2-to-1 ratio. In other words, if you want to use an 8-foot-long table, the width must be 4 feet.

Even the World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA), the governing body of pool, does not stipulate the size of the table, although commons length sizes are 9 feet, 8.5 feet, 8 feet, and 7 feet. Bars and pubs often use 7-foot tables. In Europe and the British Commonwealth, 7-foot tables are common, and even 6-foot tables can be found in pubs and homes.

Some Stipulated Sizes

Using the 2-to-1 ratio, the WPA gives the following dimensions for the playing surface of the two most common size tables in professional billiards (minus the cushions):

  • 9-foot table 100 inches by 50 inches
  • 8-foot table, 92 inches by 46 inches

A variance of an eighth of an inch in any of these measurements is allowed. The playing area must be rectangular and symmetrical.

The WPA does require certain parts of a pool table to be specific sizes. Here are some examples:

  • The table bed height must be between 29.25 inches and 31 inches.
  • The slates that form the smooth table top must be at least an inch thick
  • The rail width must be between 4 inches and 7.5 inches including the rubber cushions

Different Types of Tables

A pool or billiards table is any bounded table on which you play billiards-type games. The tables may or may not have pockets. They all have a flat surface usually made of quarried slate and covered with cloth. 

A pocket billiards table has six pockets—one at each corner of the table (corner pockets) and one at the midpoint of each of the longer sides (side pockets or middle pockets). They may be either drop pockets (baskets or cups into which the balls drop) or ball returns (gutters inside the table that funnel balls into a collection area.

Pocketless, or carom, billiards tables have, as the name suggests, no pockets. A wide range of games, which involve caroming your cue ball off other balls, are played on this type of table.

Bumper pool tables have obstacles called bumpers, which the players must negotiate in an effort to sink their balls into their opponent's goal-like hole on the opposite end of the table. Bumper pool tables tend to be small—about half the size of "regulation" pool tables at 4 feet by 2.5 feet.

Size Does Matter

American tables tends to be larger than English pool tables. The larger 4.5-by-9 table ("four-by-nine" for short), spreads the balls apart and requires pinpoint aim, a strong and effective stroke, and excellent cue ball control. Smaller tables tend to crowd the balls into frustrating little clusters. For this reason, the televised games are almost exclusively played on 9-foot tables.

For home or recreational league play, choose the table size that works best for your situation. You may be limited by the size of the room.