Billiard tables come in three standard sizes: 7, 8, and 9 feet long. Table sizes are always referred to in terms of length. The width of the table is almost always half the length, so a 7-foot table is 3.5 feet wide, an 8-foot table is 4 feet wide, and a 9-foot table is 4.5 feet wide.
There is also a table referred to as the “big eight” — this table is just a tiny bit wider and longer than the standard 8-foot table. Before the American Civil War the standard table length was 12 feet. That's a huge table when you think of it. That means the width was a whopping 6 feet! During the Civil War the table size shrunk to 11 feet and later to 10 feet during World War II.
When billiards became even more popular and eventually moved into the home, the table size continued to shrink to accommodate space. Not only the size changed, but the look changed, too. Dark wood and green cloth are no longer the only way to go. In an effort to match home décor and changing trends, billiard tables are now made in all different colors and of many types of material. This was an important move for manufacturers since 98 percent of tables sold in the United States are for home use.
In 1903, the first coin-operated billiard table earned its patent. The cost of a game at that time was one penny. Coin-operated tables were once associated with seedy bars and backroom gambling. You can still find these tables in many pubs or bars in the United States.
Commercial and professional tables are 9 feet long, while the standard home table size is 8. The 7-foot table is convenient if you are looking to buy a table for an even smaller space. The coin-operated tables you'll find in bars are traditionally 7 feet long. Not all tables come in every size, so keep that in mind before you become particularly attached to one brand name and size — you may not be able to find it. Remember that your game will be different on different size tables.
If you're wondering what table is right for you, it's best to start playing on a 9-foot table because it is harder to pocket balls than it is on the 8-foot table — but if you want to show off a little after training on the commercial size — go for the 8 footer — your friends will think you're a star as you start sinking balls with every strike.