atm-logoWhen did billiards become popular in the Old West?

Paul W. Hughes
Vacaville, California

Billiards as an indoor table game was first mentioned in a 1470 inventory for King Louis XI of France, although the cue stick wasn’t developed until around 1800. The game—with object balls numbered one to 15—reached the American West by the 1840s. Billiard or pool tables became common in the nicer saloons. Folks bet on the games, but the limited number of players who could compete meant that billiards wasn’t as popular among gamblers as were faro, craps and poker.


Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone.

If you have a question, write:  Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at

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