(About the Author)
This is one of the easiest sharks that a pool hustler can use against you – your own false ideology, constructed on a delusional belief in competency.
In competitions around the world, there are players who are intellectually dishonest about their skills and capabilities. This personal assumption is based on the player’s belief that his true skill level was established during the one competition in the past (recent or decades ago) when everything went right and all was successful. That was a glorious day when nothing went wrong.
Your assumption of a skill level and competence that cannot be factually proven is all the hustler needs to know. All he needs to do is encourage you to play beyond your abilities and basically hustle yourself into losing. If you suffer from this potential for over-estimation, then almost every game and match can not demonstrate that previous competence. All the hustler needs to do is observe the types of shots you attempt. If he observes that reality does not intrude upon your assumptions, he’s got an easy mark.
This is how you apply this self-imposed fantasy to your competitive efforts. Every loss is not your fault – but only the consequences of bad luck. This presumption of proficiency has become your basic assumption. And you can't understand why there is such a significant break between that fantasy and the reality of your current competitive skills.
With the true dedication of the slightly insane, you refuse to learn from experience. That past triumph is continuously held up as the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth - actual demonstrable circumstances be damned.
The hustler loves players with these unrealistic expectations. All he needs to do is watch groups of players compete. He watches players (like yourself) miss a tough shot – and then moan and groan that it should have been easy. Mentally, he is already calculating how much he can take you for.
These false-expectations players actually believe many low percentage shots are within their skill level. They always have that rare winning experience quite vividly implanted into their brain. Any single unexpected success is claimed to be proof of his amazing skills.
So, whenever a shot attempt fails (no matter how simple, or complex), your friends and opponents must listen to you complain aloud or mutter vile deprecations under your breath. Statements like "Should have had that." and "Just once I'd like to play my regular game.", and "Damn. That was not a difficult shot." become your normal conversational contributions and the hustler to mark you for future slaughter.
Of course, not only are you living in a fool’s paradise, you are also telling every opponent exactly what types of shorts are difficult for you to make. You are letting everyone know that you have another weakness to be exploited. Any opponent who intelligently analyzes your abilities has just been handed a tool to easily win every match.
One of the most basic realities of intelligent competition is this little bit of Shakespearean advice, "To thine own self be true." Basically, this says that you are much better off keeping your expectations based in reality.
If you can make tactical decisions on a frank appraisal of your chances for success, your chances of pocketing balls and moving the cue ball around the table for the next shot become much more realistic.
If reading this sharking trick awakens some awareness that you take lots of trips to fantasyland, you can throw some cold water on your imagination and make more intelligent playing decisions.
This is not to say that there are times when you really become a super competent shooter. When that happens, allow your brain and muscles to freely guide you to winning the match. But when you notice that edge becoming dull, immediately drop your level of expectations and pull yourself out of the fantasy and into the real world.