Snooker is one of those games that is played all over the world, but is only really well known in a handful of countries and is not the biggest sport in any of them. In the United Kingdom, the home of snooker, there are millions of fans and it has done a good job of attracting sports fans and non-sports fans alike.
Snooker is also big in China, which helps it to pull in tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of extra players. Here in Canada it is one of the many games that is growing at a rate of knots. As more money is pumped into the game by its organizers and owners in the UK, and more players join from China, countries like Canada are hanging on the shirt tails and enjoying the ride to the top.
In this guide we will show you all you need to know about snooker as a Canadian fan. We will tell you how to get cheap snooker balls, cues and tables; how to secure tickets to the biggest events around the world; and more. We will also tell you the rules of snooker and prepare you with some basic knowledge on the history and the present of this game so that you can be well versed when you chat to fellow fans everywhere from Beijing in China to Sheffield in England.
Canada needs more snooker fans. It needs more players and it needs tournaments. If you’re happy to invest your time and money in following this sport and helping Canadian interest to grow, then we’re happy to support you on the way.
The rules of snooker are very simple, even for someone who has never played the game before. The game is played on a table that is 11 feet 8.5 inches by 5 feet 10 inches, with a green cloth covering it and 6 pockets situated around the edges. It is played between two players who use a white ball, known as a “cue” ball, to hit against other balls.
First the players need to hit a red ball. If they pot the red ball, then they must choose a coloured ball to play. If they pot that then they will need to play on a red again. They get 1 point for potting a red and between 2 and 7 points for potting a colour, of which there are six.
When all of the red balls are gone then the players need to start potting the coloured balls in a specific order, going from yellow (2) to green (3), to brown (4), to blue (5) to pink (6) and then to black (7). The scores are tallied up along the way and the player with the highest score wins the match. Or rather they win the “frame”, with the winner of the match being the person who has won a predetermined amount of frames.
If the wrong ball is hit or the cue ball is potted, it is a foul. When this happens the other player is awarded a minimum of four points (can be five, six or seven if they hit the blue, pink or black first when they are not supposed to). If they pot the white then it is placed in a semi-circle known as the “D” and the opponent can then move it anywhere in this semi-circle to take their shot.
What is a Snooker?
The word “snooker” itself is used to refer to situation in which one player blocks the other player from having a clear shot at the ball they need to hit (known as the “object ball”), making it so that they need to swerve the cueball around another ball or play it off a cushion in order to hit the object ball.
A 147 is the highest score that can be achieved in a single frame of snooker during one continuous play without the use of any free balls or added foul points. This is achieved by potting only blacks after every single red, and then clearing all of the colours on the table without missing.
It is somewhat rare and only seen once every major tournament, if that. It is considered the pinnacle of a snooker break and there are often awards given out to players that get a 147 during a tournament. Think of it like the Quadruple Double in basketball, the 9 Dart Finish in darts, the Hat-Trick in soccer or the Hole-in-One in golf.
Snooker vs Pool
Pool is far more popular in North America than snooker, which is a shame, because snooker requires a greater deal of skill, the games are longer and more tactical, and there is also more money in it for the players.
The table in snooker is much bigger, the cloth is much quicker and the holes are much smaller. In pool the holes are open so that if a ball hits the jaw they still go in. In snooker the jaws are tight, and any ball that hits will bounce out. Pool is more accessible for beginners when it comes to playing, but snooker is more enjoyable to watch and hundreds of millions of fans worldwide seem to agree with us.
Watching Snooker in Canada
We don’t know of any reliable streaming services for snooker in Canada. There are sites that offer these, but they do so illegally most of the time and even if we did find one, it would likely have been forced to shutdown by the time you read this article.
Instead, keep it legal by using British and European TV stations. You can watch the World Championship and UK Championship by watching the BBC. If you have the means to stream UK channels, then look for a channel by the name of ITV4, through which you can watch The Snooker Shootout and a couple other tournaments.
The channel that has all the big and small tournaments— a tournament every week of the year—is Eurosport. You can visit the Eurosport website to buy a subscription that will allow you to watch all of these matches. You may also be able to stream it from European channels as it is shown in many countries.
Snooker World Championship
The snooker World Championship is the pinnacle of the snooker season and it also takes place at the end of the season. It occurs in April and the winner is crowned as the snooker world champion, taking a check for over $500,000. The tournament is always held at the Crucible in Sheffield, England, which is known as the home of snooker.
If you would like to book tickets to this yourself, then you need to be prepared to get in early. The tickets go on sale during the previous year’s championship, with the tickets to the final being sold while the previous year’s final is taking place. There are queues all around the box office for these and it’s very hard to get the tickets.
You can try and get them online, but you may need to resort to using ticket touts and paying a fortune, and it’s just not worth it. Instead, we recommend simply watching this championship on TV. It is broadcast by the BBC, who cover every match from beginning to end.
Other Snooker Tickets and Travel
The snooker season is a busy one. As soon as one tournament ends the next one begins and these take place all year round, with only a small break taking place following the end of the season in late April to early May.
If you want to catch a live tournament yourself and don’t want to spend big, get yourself tickets to one of the following. These are all widely available, they rarely sell out, and you can score big discounts on vacations to the countries where they are held using our coupon pages for Expedia, Hotels.com and Booking.com:
- The Paul Hunter Classic: Named after one of the game’s brightest stars, who unfortunately died very young, this is an exciting tournament all players want to win. It takes place in August at a different European destination. In 2018 it’s scheduled for Furth, Germany.
- English Open: One of the Home Nations tournaments, this is great fun. It occurs during the third quarter of October and attracts all the big stars. The venue changes, but it’s always in England.
- UK Championship: Held at the York, Barbican, in November, it’s both a great competition and a great town. A perfect stop for a Canadian’s first oversea’s snooker tournament.
If you want something a little different, keep an eye out for the Snooker Shootout. This takes place at the beginning of the year (February usually) and utilizes a different model, with shot-clocks, single frame matches, rowdy crowds, relaxed player attire, and more.
Snooker in Canada
Right now, professional snooker’s main tour is limited to Europe and China. It is growing, but it has yet to reach Canada. And it’s not just because of the lack of Canadian snooker players, because Australia has had one of the best players in the game for year snow (Neil Robertson) and they don’t have any either.
If you want to play the game yourself, either with the view to being a professional or just to mingle with fellow fans and players, checkout the following venues.
Ontario Snooker Club
The Ontario Snooker Club do a great job at promoting snooker at all levels. It’s great to see this game being played and followed so passionately here in Canada and if you have the skill and the desire, you can even join in with some of their regional tournaments. There are Pro/Am tournaments all year long. You just need to pay an entrance fee, head to the venue and then collect your money if you win.
Visit this Ontario Snooker Club schedule page to learn more about upcoming tournaments and how you can enter.
There are some great snooker clubs in Montreal, including Bar Snooker, which has a sports bar as well as tables. It’s a big city, but there are a few top locations spread throughout so you shouldn’t have an issue finding a game if you live here.
Checkout the following:
- Academie Snooker
- 147 Snooker Club
- Bogey’s Billiards
Canadian Snooker Players
This game is dominated by players from a few countries. At the time of writing, 16 of the top 20 players are from the United Kingdom, playing under the banner of their home nation (2 from Scotland; 2 from Wales; 1 from Northern Ireland; 11 from England). The other four include 2 Chinese, 1 Australian and 1 player from Hong Kong.
Unfortunately, there are no Canadian players flying high in the rankings right now and there don’t seem to be many coming through, with most of the talented youngsters hailing from China. In fact, we have checked the top 150 players and none are from Canada, we also know from experience (as snooker fans in Canada) there are no players on the main tour.
But that hasn’t always been the case and this country has produced some great players. These are the players Canadian snooker fans should look to if they want inspiration to play the game themselves. They include:
- Cliff Thorburn: Arguably one of the best known Canadian snooker players, Cliff won the World Championship in 1980 (the first non-UK player to do so) and has been inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. He won a total of 25 tournaments, including 2 ranking tournaments, over the course of his career.
- George Chenier: Often said to be the best snooker player that Canada ever produced, Chenier is also in the Canadian sports hall of fame. His career came to an end in 1970, before what is known as the modern era, but he still won 23 non-ranking titles.
- Bill Werbeniuk: With 6 titles to his name, Bill was one of the better Canadian players to have played on the main tour and his successes included late runs in the World Championship and the UK Championship.
- Alain Robidoux: This french-Canadian player played on the main tour until 2005 after beginning his career in 1988. He still plays in local events, allowing Canadian snooker fans to test their mettle against someone who played against the game’s greats, including John Higgins and Ronnie O’Sullivan. He didn’t beat many of them though and only won 1 title.
Cheap Snooker Cues in Canada
You need a good cue if you’re going to play this game. It plays a big role in a professional player’s life. They can suffer disastrous losing streaks when they lose or break their cue and need to switch to a new one. It’s partly psychological, but there is more to it than that.
The best cues are made in the UK by former snooker players, including John Parrot. But if you’re just getting started then you can get by with a standard cue from a sports equipment retailer. We have covered a few on this site, including SportsExpert and you can use our partnerships to secure discounts with them.
The best one is Amazon. It may not be a specialist retailer, but they have the best and the cheapest cues, with options from may top brands on their marketplace and their main site.
Cheap Snooker Tables in Canada
You may need to shop via a specialized retailer if you are looking for a snooker table. Just bear in mind that a championship sized snooker table is considerably bigger than your average club pool table. The pool tables you see for sale at sports equipment retailers are only 6 to 8 foot, while a full-sized snooker table is nearly 12 foot.
That’s a sizeable difference and you’re going to need a lot of room to play. You will want to put it in a room that is at least 20 feet by 20 feet, giving you petty of room to get down and take your shots. It’s important to spend more money on getting a good table rather than opting for something cheap.
You want a proper table with sturdy legs, one that stands on its own and can take the weight of a player leaning over it, as opposed to many of the cheap tables that have plastic supports and will break under the slightest weight. You will need to pay upwards of $1,500 for a good table like this, but it will last you a lifetime.
You can also buy secondhand. One of the cheapest ways to get a great table is to buy one from a snooker hall. If one near you is closing down, upgrading their tables or just looking to create some space, then offer to take a table off their hands. They won’t be ready to give them away (unless they are in a really poor state) but they will typically offer you them cheap, much cheaper than you would pay for a band new table.
Other Cheap Snooker Gear in Canada
If you buy a new snooker table then you should get all the gear you need with it. If you buy a secondhand snooker table then you may have to buy this gear yourself. There are a few basic things that you will need as well as the cues that we discussed above, these include:
- Rests and Extenders: These are kept underneath the table and are used for specific shots, ones that can’t be reached by leaning over the table, ones that require you to reach over some balls to get at the white ball, etc., There are multiple tools for these purposes, but you simply need something known as a “rest”, as well as an extender for your cue.
- Chalk: You need to chalk your cue after every couple of shots, otherwise it will lose its grip and cause you to miss-cue, which is what happens when your cue doesn’t hit the ball right and makes a mess of the shot.
- Cloth Maintenance: You need a brush and iron to keep the cloth in good condition. With professional tables cloths are changed regularly so maintenance isn’t important, but when you have a table at home you will likely use the same cloth for years, if not for the lifetime of the table, so you need to keep it clean, brushed, and in good condition.
- Balls: Last but not least, you need the actual balls. You can buy these secondhand, but balls can get nicks and scuffs that affect play and they are also cheap, so you can simply buy a set yourself. You only need one set, but we recommend buying a spare cueball as this may need changing after a while.