If you are one of those individuals who absolutely must stay in instant contact with everyone in the world, via your smart phone and other devices, you are an easy victim of this distraction. Your obsession with communications (voice, text, email, chat etc.) with friends and non-pool players is a destructive habit in any competitive situation. Just when you need to focus and concentrate on a critical win/lose effort, receiving a phone call or text message is guaranteed to disrupt your competitive spirit.
The smart phone (and other communication devices) offers an insidious freedom to anyone else on the planet to intrude on your life. These robbers who steal minutes of your existence are able to do so, with a simple press of a button or two. There is nothing you can do to prevent them from reaching out to you. With the wide proliferation of these devices, you can never know how far your phone number has traveled.
A tech-savvy pool hustler only needs to notice that you are sensitive to phone ringing – your own or anyone else’s phone. When a phone rings, he pays close attention to your face. If you look towards the ring of someone else’s phone, or if you automatically make a move to take your phone out – he knows you can be sharked.
When your phone rings while playing:
- Any current game thinking processes stop. This includes table analysis and tactical considerations.
- Any physical actions stop. If down on the shot, the execution is stopped.
- You have to pick up and look at the phone to identify who is calling.
Whether you answer or not is immaterial. The shark has already worked. When you bring your attention back to the table, everything must begin again.
The entire table analysis must be restarted. Shooting options must be reconsidered. If you had the glimmerings of a clever shot, the idea probably is completely forgotten, lost in the world of “could have been”.
To implement this dastardly plan, the pool hustler can have a nearby buddy make the call, by simply giving any kind of signal. The timing is selected for maximum disruption of your game. If you do answer, because you are curious by the unknown number, here are some possible “excuses”:
- "Sorry, I dialed the wrong number."
- Fake sales call, "Do you need new pots & pans? I have a deal for you."
- Fake spam pitch, "Do you want a joke a day? Call 555-5555 and hang up."
- Even a text message can work, i.e., "Hey, pick up pizza."
There is a variation of this shark. If your phone number has been properly shielded from public knowledge, the buddy conspirator calls the pool hustler’s phone. That phone is per-configured loud and irritating ring tone for an incoming call, or something equally messy for an incoming text.
The call can be ignored – as long as you have reacted to the noise. Alternately, the call can be picked up. A loud fake conversation can take place. An argumentative tone is very effective, since he can “lose his temper” as an excuse to raise his voice.
Table billiards is a sport where intrusive communication devices are very unwelcome. Anytime you play pool, turn off or otherwise silence any and all phones, pagers, tablets, etc. If you are obsessively interested in communicating with anyone who wants a slice of your life – check the phone between games or give it to a friend to monitor for important calls/messages.
If your opponent is using his phone to affect your concentration, stop playing and sit down. Inform him you are not moving until he turns off his device. Stick to your guns on this requirement.
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