All players have situations where a shot or scoring attempt was missed, or the layout of the table is less than ideal for the next attempt. This is part of the ups and downs of competitive play.
This becomes a sharking trick when your opponent makes one or more comments on your failures. These are freely offered on any poor consequence or where the playing situation is less than ideal for advancement.
There can be many reasons for the balls on the table not being where you wanted them to end up. Your failure of intent might be caused by a badly misjudged shot selection, maybe a poor tactical choice, or simply the result of not thinking what could happen.
It is when you are just realizing your lack of success that the hustler inserts his snarky sharking comments. This is usually presented in a joking manner and without any apologies for his barely suppressed happiness over your bad luck.
Here are some of the more common comments he can use to make you feel worse:
- "That's a bit of bad luck."
- "Could you have done any worse?"
- "That was terrible."
- "What an unlucky roll."
- "That almost came out perfect."
- "You needed just a little more (or less) speed on that shot."
- "You should have been more accurate."
- "So close, so far away."
- "You must have really pissed off the sporting gods."
- "I bet you wish you could shoot that over."
- "That could have had a better result."
- "Are you really that bad?"
- "I can show you how to shoot that correctly."
When you begin your inning with a less than ideal table layout, here are a few comments he offers:
- "That's a tough position to start in."
- "I don't see anything that you can do with this."
- "That's not quite the worst spot to start from."
- "Tsk, tsk, tsk." with sad, slow shaking of the head.
All of these are not welcome comments. But it is his attitude that takes the most joy out of playing against him. He enjoys your lack of success with unabashed pleasure.
The worst action you can take when suffering this constant denigration of your shooting skills is to get pissed off and start beating him up. Below are better solutions. However, if for some reason the guy just can’t be brought under control – make sure you have the approval of railbirds to begin the more physical actions to restrict his verbiage.
When the hustler starts using this distractive effort on you, your first attempt should be done with a straight-forward request. Make an offer something like, "Let's make an agreement. If you don't say anything about my game, I won't say anything about yours. Deal or not?"
If he agrees, you've stopped this specific sharking trick. (Be warned, that if he considers himself to be a master gamesman, he has more sharks ready to use.) BUT, if he doesn’t agree with all due seriousness, he has given you permission to offer the same commentary on his “problems”.
Here is a passive-resistive approach. When your turn comes up, do not immediately go up to the table. Just wait until he informs you about your turn. On the first comment he makes, start disassembling your stick and get ready to leave. While he is open-mouthed at this action – don’t forget to grab any betting funds. On any questions, say, “I don’t play with idiots. Let me know when you stop being stupid.” If you scarfed up some money, say, “in the meantime, I’m taking this as your penalty.”
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