The game of pyramids was the early ancestor of pool. It was played with a triangle of fifteen red balls. Imagine where the eight ball is placed within a pool table triangle, the equivalent red ball would be placed over the pink spot on a snooker table. The idea being the first player to pot eight of the reds would be the winner. I have seen the game played (when snooker table recovering) on snooker diners with four players. The winner being the person who pots the most balls.
Sometimes, an element of betting would be involved in pyramids and all other associated cue sports. The name pool was used for the first time in the mid 19th century when players would gamble by agreeing on a stake for every potted ball. Players were required to pool their bets before the game began.
The game of Black pool was like pyramids only as well as having the fifteen red balls in a triangle there was also the black ball which was placed either on the blue or black spot on a snooker table. The black would carry a higher stake than the reds and provided a popular variation to this emerging form of gambling.
Life pool was the first game to use different coloured balls apart from the red, black and white. It was played by several players who would adopt a different colour and would lose a life if their colour was potted by an opponent. Generally, each player would have three lives and the last one left would win the pool of money. An extra life could be bought for an extra stake.