It's nice to have good allies and advisors around you. These people can help improve your life and life style. But on the pool table, do NOT expect your opponent to be one of the individuals who have your best interests at heart. There are two reasons why an opponent would provide help and guidance. One, you are not a threat to his pocket book or self-esteem, or two, he wants to enfeeble your intentions to win.
During the match, the pool hustler assumes a very helpful attitude. He has nothing but good wishes for your success, and happily assumes the role of your pool playing mentor and professional instructor.
Every time you are at the table, he turns that into a teaching moment. He becomes your guide to better shot choices, better shooting fundamentals, better everything. Whatever the table situation, he is there with an idea or suggestion – to help, of course.
For example, you have an easy shot on a jawed ball. He explains the correct applied cue ball spin and speed to get the cue ball into position for the next shot. And, of course, if you haven’t practiced and mastered cue ball side spin or speed control, the result is not as intended.
If you have a more difficult shot, he provides tips on bisecting angles, calculating the aiming line, plus several possible ways to play the shot. He even helps line up the shot.
You get a lot of guidance on offensive efforts. And all his recommendations and suggestions are truthful. It’s not his fault you lack the experience to do the shot as his explains.
You won’t get any guidance on when, why, and how you should play a defensive shot. The silence is deafening. And if you ask for help, his answers provide limited and minimal details. Defensive ideas and concepts is not something he wants you to learn.
The problem is this: when you start listening to your opponent, you stop thinking for yourself. You quickly become dependent on his thinking to decide what shot to shoot and how to play the table. When that happens, you also stop analyzing whether his ideas are good for you. There are two dangers:
- He can very subtly shade his advice so that you are not shooting the best choice. Any unsuccessful effort is easily blamed on your poor execution, while he says, "Well, I tried my best."
- He can stop providing help. Even with a small dependency on his support, the sudden cut-off requires some time to get your brain out of neutral. During that time, he can easily win several games.
Think about the idea of your opponent helping you beat him. Why would he ever be serious about doing that? Of what benefit would he gain from assisting you to win?
Do you really want advice from someone who has money on the table (of any amount)? You are better off persuading him to stop bothering you with his advice. Once you can start playing without his kindly considerations, you can get back to properly doing your own thinking and learning from successes and failures.
Only when you handle your own problems do you gain the value of the experience and lessons learned from the consequences. If a playing decision works well, you have some practical experience on what works for that situation. If it goes wrong, you can add little guidelines, such as, "Don't do that again." or "Put a little more (or less) speed on that type of shot." Making your own choices is also necessary to mature in your shooting and playing skills, mental and physical.
If the hustler is persistent about providing his knowledge, say, "I appreciate your help. How about we set up a time when you can give me some lessons and instruction?" If he really is competent, that is when you want to pick his brains.
If you do need advice, suggestions, or ideas; ask known allies. You can trust their motivations and intentions.