(H&S) Hustles & Sharks - Powder & Chalk

(About the Author)

Learn how to Beat the Sharks

To implement this shark, the hustler uses the pool hall's powder and chalk as weapons of mass distraction. This is one of the few efforts that stretch the tolerances of even casual bar-bangers. Most people, observing such behavior, would happily sign a petition to demand a declaration of outlawry. Among groups of regular pool players, the penalty for violating pool hall behavioral standards is exclusion from the group (ostracizing).

This shark is rarely seen in a well-run pool hall. Most of the time, it is observed in use by the most ignorant of bar bangers – not as an intentional shark, but as a simple example of bad parenting.

This sharking trick uses powder (supposed to allow a smooth action of the cue stick over the bridge hand) and chalk (intended to help the cue ball avoid miscuing). The distraction involves the excessive use of powder and chalk during the competition.

When intentionally used as a pool hustle, it can destroy the victim's game on several levels. The sheer messiness of powdered chalk on the table is very distracting. It’s hard to concentrate on a long tough shot when there are several handprints of white powder right beneath your nose.

If you are an inherently neat and tidy person, the scattered powder across the playing area could lead to a nervous breakdown. If you love the Green Game, this desecration generates a major irritation that continues throughout the entire match.

The pool hustler begins this trick by pulling out a small bottle of baby powder from his equipment. He may also have some chalk so old that it disintegrates at a touch.

When ready to begin the competition, he vigorously shakes baby powder into his hand, both front and back. This process also creates a white circle of powder debris around his feet. When he has applied enough (always too much), he vigorously rubs the powder evenly across both hands – which leads to another rain of powder onto the floor. He grabs his stick and vigorously shoves it back and forth through his hand – supposedly to put some of the powder on the stick.

He then walks over to the table, putting the stick down, and creates a loud clap with both hands. This sends out a blizzard of powder that covers half the table and more across the floor. Then, as he finally gets down on a shot, he leaves visible palm prints on the rails and cloth. At every third shot, he renews the powder on his hands. A few turns at the table makes the playing surface look like a paintball war zone.

With his disintegrating chalk, he grinds the tip into the cube with force (and over the table). As the debris falls onto the table, it creates a minor mine field for slow moving balls.

When done drilling the cue tip into the cube, the chalk is placed face down on the rail. This adds more debris on and around the playing area. All of this is designed to provide visual distraction and the destruction of your focus.


Stop this at the first palm outline or chalk cube slam. If you can't personally get a behavior change, appeal to any available higher authority. Look for the opponent's team captain, tournament director, room manager, owner, bouncer, or even other railbirds. (Don't ask any of his friends. They're having too much fun watching their buddy mess up the playing area.) Hopefully, one or more of these individuals can convince him to tone it down. A threat of expulsion or forfeiture of match might help.

In an absolute last resort, rather than attempt to play under such conditions, threaten to quit. If that doesn't lead to a behavior modification, without another word, break your stick down, pack up and go get a drink.

It’s not worth putting yourself through this type of playing environment. You certainly can not enjoy the competition. And don't worry about hurting his feelings. This type of hustler is too callous to be affected by your opinions.


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