Early American Billiards development

The oldest Billiards games played in the USA were One-Pocket and Four-Ball Billiards.   One-Pocket, is the earliest game, a description of the game was recorded in 1775 - complete rules for a British form appeared in 1869 showing that the return trip across the Atlantic for the various games of Pool probably also started with One Pocket.
Until the 1870's, though, most Americans would have played American Four-Ball Billiards, which was played on an English Billiards sized table (12' x 6') with only 4 pockets and four balls - two white and two red. It was played like English Billiards by aiming to pocket balls, go in-off (scratch) or by making canons which were called 'caroms'.

 

 

Development of Pool in the USA

American Fifteen-Ball Pool or "Sixty-one Pool" is the predecessor of all modern 'Pocket Billiards' games. It was played with 15 object balls as in the English game Pyramid, but crucially, the balls are numbered 1 through 15. For sinking a ball, the player received a number of points equal to the value of the ball. The sum of the ball values in a rack is 120, so the first player who received more than half the total, or 61, was the winner. The word "pool" means a collective bet and became a term for the game when it began to be played in 19th century "pool rooms" which were then places for betting on horseraces.
Continuous Pool replaced Fifteen-Ball Pool as the championship game when, in 1888, it was thought more fair to count the number of balls pocketed by a player and not their numerical value . Thus, the player who sank the last ball of a rack would break the next rack and his point total would be kept "continuously" from one rack to the next.
Eight-Ball Pool was invented shortly after 1900 and is one of the most widely played of all Billiards games today. Straight Pool followed in 1910. Also known as 14.1 Continuous. The object is to pot 14 of the 15 balls one after the other and in any order leaving just one ball whereupon all the others are racked up and the break continues. One point is scored for each ball potted.

A History of Pool in the USA

Following centuries of Billiards dominated by England and France, during the 19th century a third country became obsessed with the sport of cues and balls. Billiard tables had been appearing in all the colonies from the 1600s but Americans were particularly keen. As with other aspects of American life, Billiards culture became a mish-mash of the cultures of the immigrant populations. Americans played early Port and King Billiards, held English Billiards competitions, indulged in Pin Billiards from Italy and, in contrast to Britain and its empire, imported Carambole tables without pockets from France.