If you are a younger player, you are more susceptible to this hustling trick. As a general rule, less aged shooters seem to be willing to take larger chances on shots that old-timers are wise enough to stay away from.
In a situation where a long-time player would seriously consider defensive options, the youngster is happy to take a flyer if he thinks he has even a small chance to pull it off.
The pool hustler must first determine if you are vulnerable to proposition bets and challenges. Early in the game, he throws a little test at you.
On a tough shot where you should play cautiously, he offers, "I'll give you a buck if you can make it." If you try it, he knows you are a prime target for this distraction. It doesn't matter if you succeed or not.
If you refuse, he prompts for a rationale. If you respond with a sensible answer, like, "That's beyond my ability." or another intelligent remark, he knows you are a thinking player. He might still offer a proposition, but mainly for its temporary distractive value as you consider and reject the offer.
Here are a few circumstances where this can be applied:
- At a key shot in the game, that if successful would win the game.
- The difficult but not impossible shot.
- Just past the mid-game point on an important game.
- On a very low percentage shot, for the fun of it.
He can make the proposition as simple as an even up offer, or handicap the offer to make it more attractive. But it is not the size of the bet as much as the distraction it causes.
- Any rhythm you might have had is now disrupted.
- You must stop and listen to his proposition.
- You evaluate the possibilities.
- You respond - yes or no.
- If yes, you have the new pressure of the bet.
- If no, you must refocus your attention.
If you take the bet, it doesn't matter when you win it or not. He accomplished the original intent - taken your attention off the competition – from which it takes some time to recover.
There is not much you can do to stop your opponent from throwing out a proposition. It is a blatant effort to interrupt your rhythm. If you have been exposed to proposition bets before, it is a simple process to immediately wave him off and continue your shot.
This response diminishes the effort as no more distractive than any background conversation or the jukebox suddenly starting up.
If unfamiliar with proposition bets, you probably allow him to make his proposal. Your best option is always refusal, no matter how interesting the offer. Keep in mind – the more tempting the proposition, the more guaranteed you are to reduce your quantity of ready cash. To get back to the game, apply a couple of internal calming routines as you get back to the game.
Because your opponent made the offer, he has opened the door for you to present your own propositions during his turn at the table even while he is getting ready to shoot. When you see a similarly difficult position facing him - make your offer. Time it just as he has made one or two practice strokes.
It is always a bit disconcerting to a pool hustler when his own tricks are immediately recognized and used against him. He might test you with another shark, but the distraction effects are greatly diminished.