The exact date when American pool, or billiards as it is sometimes known, first arrived in America is still somewhat of a mystery as no one really knows. It has been said through listening to different tales that the Spaniards brought the game to St Augustine in the 1580's, as there is no trace to confirm this it is more than likely that it was the English and Dutch settlers who first introduced the game.
It was in the late 1700's that a group of American cabinetmakers produced billiard tables of a high quality but only in small numbers, the game however became popular all through the colonies and it has been reported that all those centuries ago George Washington played a game and won the match in 1748.
It wasn't long when, later in 1830, using poor equipment, that rooms were used entirely for the game of billiards. The most famous room used by stockbrokers centuries ago was a room at Bass- fords in New York. This is probably where the love and popularity of the game in America began, there were several different versions of billiards that developed from Pin Pool. Pin Pool was played using small targets of wood, a miniature game of what is known of today as bowling. Another version is Fifteen Ball Pool.
It is a little time later that the popularity of the game was due to a man by the name of Michael Phelan, he was known as the father of American billiards. Michael Phelan, who was an Irish emigrant, later wrote a book in late 1850 about the game, it is thought that the book was the first one in America. Mr. Phelan was extremely influential and devised rules and set standards of behavior for the game. As an inventor, he also added diamonds to tables as aiming guides, and later, he was responsible for the designs of new tables and cushions.
Michael Phelan was the first American billiard columnist and it was in 1859 on January 1st, that his first weekly article was printed in Leslie's Illustrated Weekly winning a prize month's later of $15.00 at Detroit, in one of the most important stake matches in the United States. It was through his love of the game and endless energy that he later created a manufacturing company called Phelan & Collender. It was later in 1894 that the company merged with its competitor, J.M.Brunswick & Balke to become Brunswick-Balke-Collander, due to this merge all aspects of the game were controlled tightly until 1950's. Brunswick Billiards the successor is known all over America as one of the largest manufacturers.
Today when you see the sign "pool room" everybody knows this is where a game of pool is played, this wasn't the same back in the early 19th century the term poolroom was actually a betting parlor for horseracing. It was with the introduction of pool tables being installed so that the patrons could pass the time away in between horse races. It was because of the two activities being linked together in the public mind, but the term "pool room" actually came from betting which took place in the room not billiards.
As the years went on and after World War II it was thought the game may go into decline this was because soldiers returning from the war were interested in buying homes or building careers rather than spending days in a poolroom. It was in 1961 and later in 1986 that the game of billiards took a huge turnaround and was revived. The first was with the release of the black and white film "The Hustler" which sent America into frenzy with people wanting to play pool like the hustler, and later the sequel to the film, "The Color of Money", with Paul Newman and Tom Cruise. Today American pool tables can be seen in pubs and clubs throughout the USA and around the world.
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