This is a simple hustler’s trick. This distraction tactic is most effective when there isn’t a lot of room around the pool table. This means that there are not always designated chairs for the players.
This shark can be used in any informal competitions, such as team matches, local tournaments, and any playing areas that have to crowd a lot of players onto the tables. It cannot be applied during formal competitions where players have designated seats in which to wait while the other shooter plays his inning.
The hustler sets the “tone” for the shark by acting with apparent good sportsmanship – seemingly to ensure that he does not interfere with your shooting.
There are many ways to make this work to his advantage. Such movements most often occur after he has determined your next shot. In the process of getting out of your way, he always takes the longest route around the table. This ensures he spends the longest amount of time in front of you.
He can stop slightly to one side of your aiming line, and freeze into a motionless statue. And just as you are making your stroke, he makes a slight movement in one direction or the other. He can also “seemingly” become aware that he is in front of your shot, and then scurry quickly to the side – while apologizing profusely for being in front of you.
As he moves around the table to avoid being a distraction, the direction tends to be the one that pass you on the same side of the table. At the least, his moving into and through your personal comfort zone ensures you are momentarily distracted. This helps tatter your focus and concentration.
When he doesn’t want to directly push past you, he can take the long way around the pool table – so that he has to travel 3/4 around to get into a location that shouldn’t distract you. And of course, he does this as you are getting down on the shot.
A variation of the “Stand by Me” hustle involves him spending the majority of his “not-moving” time on the edge of your peripheral vision. Most of this table circumventing is on your shooting side.
If you shoot right-handed, he stops moving on your right side. As he moves around to keep out of your way, he occasionally asks, "Is this OK? I'm not in your way?" This is to make sure you don't forget him while you are focused on your game.
Another tactic is to carefully ensure that he always is behind you on your shot. Even out of sight, he can make sure to impinge on your concentration. In a cramped playing area, he may intentionally jostle somebody – then, apologize to that person while you are trying to concentrate.
He may make a noise, shift a table or chair out of the way, or even have a cough. If you do turn to take a look, he makes smiles or laughs embarrassingly and says an appropriate, “Sorry.”.
If you call him on it, he is very profuse about his apologies. He may even behave for a short time. A few turns later, he gently starts up again.
An amateur hustler over-does this. When you recognize this as an intentional distraction, tell him to stop being so stupid – loudly. In a crowded playing environment, you might even get a few laughs from the railbirds.
If done of an experienced hustler, it’s hard to actually identify this. This is because the shark is only used during critical shots. When you know this type of hustle can be done, it is easy to recognize.
An immediate and very direct action is needed to stop this. Get his attention and say, “When you are shooting, I will stand there (point to the area). When I am shooting, you can stand over there (point to the area). OK?”
Usually, this should do the trick. At least it stops this shark. It doesn’t mean that he won’t try something else.