How does one go about creating a pool simulator?

The physics complexities are dealt with in many good resources.

Virtual Pool is a good commercially available pool simulator. A free demo version is available. Another good simulator is ShootersPool.

An open-source graphics simulator project called FooBilliard has source code available.

How do pool simulators compare to the real thing?

Modern pool simulators like Virtual Pool do surprisingly well at matching the physics and play of a real pool table; although, they are not perfect. Basis pool strategy and aiming systems definitely apply to both the real world and simulators. However, real pool requires significant eye-hand coordination, feel, and skill. And shots can be dreamed up in a simulator that would be ridiculously difficult (and even impossible) by a real player on a real pool table.

from John Novak:

Virtual Pool 3 DL is as close to the real thing as you can get.. When I first heard about it over 10 years ago I looked at it as just a computer game. But, it is not. Everything you can do on a real table can be simulated in this game. Cue butt angle, squirt, swerve, etc. Check it out the graphics are amazing. You can even adjust the table cloth speed, rail speed, pocket size and pocket cut. use the promo code vp3pc1104 and you can purchase it for about 10 bucks, best money you ever spent. This can also be played on line against people all over the world. Give it a try.

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