It's Not Really Happened Yet.......
English snooker player and former world number one, Judd Trump, recently competed at the US Open Pool Championship, losing narrowly before reaching the last-16 of the tournament and this prompted us to ask whether or not pool players ever make the transition to snooker.
Snooker and pool are very different games. Despite a number of similarities, the biggest difference is perhaps the hardest for pool players to overcome when attempting to make the transition to snooker - the size of the table.
A standard pool table ranges in size from 6ft in length to 9ft in length whereas a snooker table is ordinarily 12ft in length. This is a significant difference. The pockets are also different, making snooker a much more difficult game when it comes to potting the balls.
This is not to take anything away from pool. Each game has its own set of unique skills - jump shots, snookers and positional play are all integral to pool and whilst some of those skills are relevant to snooker, the way balls are potted and the specific order, means that the skills are not necessarily transferable.
Have any pool players attempted professional snooker? The differences between the two games have not stopped pool players from attempting the transition to professional snooker.
Two of the most famous pool players to attempt the switch were US pool stars, Jim Rempe and Steve ‘the Miz’ Mizerak. Both were successful pool players, with Mizerak winning the US Open four times between 1970 and 1973.
Both attempted the switch to professional snooker in the 1980s, however, neither were successful. Rempe lost to a young Stephen Hendry in the last 64 of the 1987 Snooker World Championship, going down 10-4, although he did enjoy a respectable break of 59 in that game. He also enjoyed a break of 105 in a first-round victory over Martin Smith so the idea of him making the transition was not a ridiculous one.
Mizerak did enjoy some success competing against snooker players, although sadly, it was on the pool table rather than the snooker table where he enjoyed his success. In the 1980s, Mizerak competed against Steve Davis and Jimmy ‘Whirlwind’ White in a pool/snooker challenge, coming out on top courtesy of victories in straight pool and nine-ball. He lost heavily in both snooker matches, although he did take a frame from Davis in a 5-1 defeat.
Here in New Zealand, pool is a much more popular game than snooker, however, you do find snooker halls in some towns and cities around the country. One of the most successful pool players in New Zealand is Simon Singleton. Originally from England, Simon grew up playing snooker but has successfully made the transition to pool and currently sits third in the New Zealand pool rankings.
Snooker players tend to make a more successful transition to pool. Judd Trump is not the first snooker player to try his hand at pool. Steve Davis had a very successful career as a pool player, helping Europe to defeat the US in the Ryder Cup-style Mosconi Cup competition in 1995 and 2002.
Jimmy White also played with Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins in the 1995 Mosconi Cup where they enjoyed success together in the doubles before White went on to seal victory in his singles match too.
More recently, snooker sensation ‘Rocket’ Ronnie O’Sullivan has played in various pool tournaments during his career and 2016 snooker world champion Mark Selby was the World Eight-Ball Pool Federation Champion in 2006.
Selby continues to play pool when his calendar allows and in 2021, entered the Ultimate Pool Pairs Cup in the UK with his brother-in-law.
Despite failing to make the last-16 of the US Open, Trump did enjoy some success, winning his first three matches before a heavy defeat to Welshman, Jayson Shaw. He then went across to the ‘loser’ side of the draw, where he suffered a narrow 11-10 defeat to South African Jason Theron, missing out on a spot in the last 16.
Trump was the 2019 world snooker champion and whilst he may not have been successful in his transition to the blue baize, he can console himself with being the favourite with Betway Sports for the 2022 Snooker World Championship.
His experience in the States has not put Trump off trying again. Talking to Eurosport, Trump said, “I think I will do it again, as a sport it is on the up. I like travelling to America anyway, and it is good to play a sport in another country.”
Trump loved the atmosphere which was undoubtedly a little different to the very respectful crowds that watch snooker. He enjoyed some good support whilst over in the US and with a little practice, feels he could be competitive in the future, “I honestly think I was at about five per cent of the level I could reach so that gives you hope, and it was nice to play Jayson Shaw, one of the real top pool players.”
Trump will be back in action on the green baize when the Championship League Snooker Event kicks off between 5-6 January 2022.
Inspired to take up pool? Make sure you check out our range of pool tables and maybe you could be one of the future stars of the game or even make the transition to snooker.