To be effective with this distraction, the pool hustler has to be part entertainer, part narrator, part master of ceremonies, and full-time conversational hog. He must have a personality style that demands to be the center of everyone’s attention.
Probably the most memorable person who made this a centerpiece of his entire professional lifestyle is Rudolf Wanderone, also known as Minnesota Fats. He was recognized as one of the most well-known hustlers of pool in the USA in the 1940's, 1950's, and 1960's. He was so entertaining that he became a television star on his sheer talent to talk while playing. Without apologies, he was an almost unstoppable force, keeping a shrewd mind hidden behind a constant stream of fascinating and humorous comments, stories, and observations. The very flow of his words overwhelmed the majority of his competitors both on the table and off.
Whether playing or not, your opponent keeps up a pattern. Any conversational contributions you attempt to make are immediately steam-rollered. He knows what he is doing and the affect it has on people. The rapid fire verbiage almost forces a requirement to pay attention to his word flow. And of course, this achieves his purpose – to significantly reduce your concentration on the game as well as interfering with the necessary game analysis.
Questions are asked, rapid-fire style. Respond quickly, because he won't leave you much time to answer. It goes something like, "So when did you first start playing?" If you don't say something quickly, he answers his own question. "You were probably about 13, right?" That initiates a recounting of some adventure he had at that age.
If you happen to come into the presence of a true master of this shark, sit in the background and watch the show. It is theater that you can not buy a ticket to get into. Do not play for money against him, but a side bet on his success probably pays off. Watch and enjoy as he takes apart any opponent. It should be one of the better entertainment experiences of your life.
When this type of hustler becomes your match opponent, there are a few things you need to do. First and most important, do not attempt to go word for word with him.
He has years of experience in separating his game playing skills from his mouth. Instead, remove yourself as his primary audience. One response would be to do some fake snoozing while he is shooting and talking. You might be surprised how well closing your eyes helps you keep control of your mental attitude. The relaxation and even breathing pattern can help you experience almost zen-like benefits.
Alternately, you can engage in conversation with a nearby railbird. Be sure to face your discussion partner so that your opponent is completely out of sight. Your effort of ignoring his attempts to be the center of your attention helps slow him down.
When his questions are not related to the game or match, use a wave of your hand (a sign of “don’t bother me”) as you intently stare at the table. Essentially, by bobbing and weaving your attention, you can keep away from the full force of his verbiage.
While it takes some effort to do this, it is less damaging to your concentration than having to directly fend off his verbal assaults. This helps limit the distractive damage.
If you want to try a personal request to stop, make it during the first few minutes of the match. Whether he honors that request is debatable. And even if he agrees, you have to be careful that he doesn’t start nibbling around the edges of the agreement.
Be vigilant and enforce any “quiet” agreement immediately on the first utterances he might make. Do this by stopping any playing activity, fully face him and bring your index finger up to your pursed lips for the traditional "be quiet" signal.
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