These days there are a variety of colors available for pool tables. If you look hard enough you can find pool table felt in any color you could think of. However, green has been the go-to for pool tables for years. This leads many people to ask, Why are pool tables green?
There are two main reasons why pool tables are green. The first is tradition and the second is that it’s easy on the eyes. The billiards table was invented as a way to move an outdoor lawn game indoors, so the green cloth is a nod to the color of grass. Plus, green doesn’t strain the eyes after long periods, like some other colors can do.
Classic Green Pool Tables
Before pool was played on tables, a larger version of it was played outdoors. It was similar to the game of croquette that is still played on lawns today. This was back in the 1300s, according to historians.
The French monarch King Louis XI is thought to have owned the first indoor billiards table in the middle of the 15th century. The transfer from outdoor to indoors necessarily meant that the game needed to be miniaturized.
Even the nobility, who were the only ones who played the game in those early days, only had so much room for a billiard table. But, it’s thought that many of the tables back then were much larger than they are today. And the green cloth that they used was a logical recreation of the grass that the parent game was played on.
It wasn’t until the 18th century that bumpers and pockets were widely used. It was then that billiard tables took on a look closer to the pool tables we’re familiar with today. But the green cloth remained the same. Perhaps it comes down to that old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Contrast and Ball Colors
Green cloth has been so widely used partly because of the contrast it creates with the balls. After all, the shade of green commonly used on modern tables is not anywhere near any of the greens used for the balls of various billiards games.
With adequate lighting, this keeps any of the balls from getting “lost” on the table. Imagine having a table color that was exactly the same shade as one or more of the balls! I could give the game a whole other level of difficulty.
Science Says Blue is Better
Green pool table felt has enjoyed a long reign, but it may be coming to an end. It seems that a particular shade of blue, called Tournament Blue, is fast becoming the preferred shade. The science says that this shade, also known as Electric Blue, is easy on the eyes. It also creates a contrast between the balls and pockets, making sure nothing is lost to the player. Also, this shade of blue does well under the bright lights needed for televised tournaments.
Most professional pool tournaments now use Tournament Blue on their tables.
Does Pool Table Color Affect Your Game?
There are people who insist that the color of the pool table cloth absolutely affects their game. Some players reportedly get headaches from playing on pool tables with certain color felt. Other players claim that the color doesn’t matter one bit. Ultimately this is a matter of preference.
It’s true that some colors, like red, can fatigue the eyes after an extended period. However, some people are more sensitive to this than others. And even if the eyes are fatigued doesn’t mean that your game will automatically suffer.
As such, there is no solid evidence that the color of pool table felt has an effect on a player’s game one way or the other. But, since much of pool is mental, a bright or jarring color could affect a player’s mental state, therefore causing their game to suffer.
Again, this is all a matter of preference. Many professional pool players insist that skill has nothing to do with the color of the pool table, while others prefer to play on blue or green tables— even if they don’t necessarily know why.
The Best and Worst Pool Table Colors
While the color of a table’s felt isn’t guaranteed to impact your game one way or the other, there’s still a matter of preference and comfort to consider.
The vast majority of people prefer to play on green or blue pool tables. Some players insist that tan pool table felt is the best. Then there are the people who want a table not so much for playability but for aesthetics. These people should pick the color that they like the most. For those that plan to play a lot of pool on the table, there is a general consensus on the best and worst pool table colors.
Best Pool Table Colors
- Green – No surprise here. Green is classic and easy on the eyes.
- Blue – Blue is fast becoming a favorite. It’s also easy on the eyes and some people find it calming and soothing.
- Tan – Although a distant third, many people swear by tan pool table cloth. It’s muted and gives great contrast, even in poor lighting conditions.
Worst Pool Table Colors
- Red – The brighter the red, the more people seem to hate it. Maroon seems to do okay, but people say it still tends to stress the eyes after an hour or more.
- Black – Black felt looks cool, but it can make things difficult. It can camouflage the 8 ball and even play tricks with the pockets in certain circumstances. Plus it gets dirty easily.
- Yellow – People find even muted yellow stressful on the eyes. Like looking into the sun— especially with bright overhead lighting.
Pool Table Color and Chalk Color
So far we’ve just been talking about the color of pool table cloth, but the color of pool table chalk is important, too. If your cloth and your chalk are contrasting colors, your table will start to look dirty quickly. It’s impossible to keep cue chalk off of the pool table’s surface, so it’s best to get chalk that matches your pool table felt. Blue chalk is the most common, but you can also get chalk in different colors, including black, purple, green, and red.
The Best Pool Table Felt Color For You
While I recommend you get green or blue pool table felt, it ultimately comes down to what works best for you. Take a look at the room your pool table is in (or will go in) and decide what color felt will work best. Consider the following:
- What will match the style of the room?
- What color do you prefer?
- What colors do you think will be easy on your eyes?
- How bright is the lighting?
- Is the table for play or for show?
Once you have the answers to those questions you can consider the other information in this article. You know why pool tables are green, but it’s up to you what color your pool table will be.