This hustling trick is designed to affect the playing abilities of players who are envious of other people’s possessions. It’s a refinement that uses “Keep up with the Jones” psychological profiling. To make this work, the pool hustler MUST invest a significant amount of money into his pool tools.
Here is a real-life example of how one hustler basically over-awed his opponent. He laid out his beautiful custom designed and colored leather 3x5 case onto the table. Waiting a few minutes, he gauged the reactions of his opponent and the railbirds. The other player was immediately attracted to the case. He stepped up to the table and stared. The hustler started into his spiel.
He showed the genuine silver buttons, covered in gold chasing, originally from an old fancy Mexican saddle. He explained how the case was assembled from exotic leathers - alligator, ostrich, buffalo, etc., and how the pieces were colored. He encouraged his opponent and even the railbirds to feel the carvings – an offer eagerly accepted.
The hustler carefully went over every design feature and function – all of his personal design (natch). The many zippers, snaps, pockets, etc. were all opened for everyone’s inspection.
Then, he pulled out the cue butts. One had fancy gold and silver filigree, another but was covered with a dragon made with mother of pearl. Each butt was a wonder of exotic woods, ebony, zebrawood, purple wood, etc. One of the cue butts has a ring of tiger eye stones embedded at the end. Even the shafts had a design swash inlaid just above the joint.
This guy was truly in love with his artwork – so it wasn’t difficult for him to pull in his audience’s attention. He knew that if he could dazzle his opponent enough, that he wouldn’t have to work that hard to win games. And that was pretty much what happened. His opponent couldn’t keep his eyes off the sticks and never really got down to seriously playing. He dropped a big bundle that day – and didn’t really seem to mind the loss.
You might think that with such an ostentatious display, this guy was trying to cover up weaknesses in playing skills. He wasn’t lacking in skill. However, he also didn’t show off his best speed. He made very sure he didn’t make spectacular shots – and often missed. But when the balls stopped rolling – his opponent usually had a rough table layout. Basically, his opponent got smoothly skinned.
There aren’t a lot of pool hustlers that have such an extensive and expensive set of fancy shooting equipment. But there are a few who have spent quite a bit of money. It is important not to be dazzled by the possessions of other players. However, when you do come up against someone who wants to engender jealousy and envy, you can easily turn this around and use the guy’s pool stuff to shark him back.
Begin your response to his prideful presentation by being suitably impressed. Do this with continuous compliments on the work. Tell him how cool you think each of his possessions is. Follow this up with admiring statements over his design skills. Ask him how he came up with them and what they mean. (There's always a story.) There is no way you can over-exaggerate this ploy. He loves his gear way too much to realize that you are pulling him around by the nose.
The trick is to keep him continuously talking, thereby distracting his attention from the table. In addition, by stroking his ego, he gets too full of himself, which also decreases his abilities to concentrate on playing.
If, in the rare circumstance that this guy is able to pull his game together, there is another trick you can use. Ask to look at his cue stick again. Focus in on the very small details and closely inspect the artwork. Cue stick artists can be very sophisticated in general, but when getting down to details of the thickness of a hair, there are little discrepancies - maybe a slight roughness around an inlay, or an uneven application of lacquer, or a filigree curve that isn't smooth. As you point this out, say, “This is great work in general, but the details are somewhat flawed.” Use similar statements. And yes, this is a mean trick. But stuck-up people need to have their ears pinned back once in a while.