A good hustler can take this shark and become inventive. It is very effective when used in circumstances where there is almost no verbal communications between players. That limitation eliminates most of the sharks that require some sort of conversation. It’s hard to declare these as hustling attempts. And many of these might actually be habits, rather than a sharking effort. That doesn’t mean the effects (your reduced abilities to compete) don’t happen. Continue reading
When this psychological tactic is well-played, your first thought is to wonder if your opponent really might be insane. On second thought, you might consider whether he might live a more fulfilling life under 24/7 supervision. Finally you realize that if this was a serious problem, someone else would have handled the situation long before today. Continue reading
These are a number of smaller tricks that a pool hustler can use against you, even while you are at the table and he is waiting to play. All he needs to do is set up a waiting area (usually down table) and perform little activities, seemingly unrelated to you. These little distractive activities are very common among amateur hustlers. Continue reading
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.
Random House Dictionary definitions:
competition - rivalry between two or more persons or groups for an object desired in common, usually resulting in a victor and a loser.
gamesmanship (aka “hustling”) - 1. the use of methods, esp. in a sports contest, that are dubious or seemingly improper but not strictly illegal. 2. the technique or practice of manipulating people or events so as to gain an advantage or outwit one's opponents or competitors.
shark - 1. (v) to obtain by trickery. 2. (n) a person regarded as ruthless. (added) 3. (n) any pool player who wins
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In pool halls across the planet, most (about 60-65%) of the players are of the male gender. There is always the normal competitive spirit that occurs between two opponents. When the dynamics of opposite sexed players are added, it becomes much easier to be a railbird rather than be deeply mired in the close competitive environment of the pool table. Continue reading
If you are a younger player, this is a trick that an old pool hustler pulls on you. Probably around 60 years of age, he demonstrates the effects of a hard life – or at least a reflection of his ill-spent youth. He has decades of experience. He doesn’t really need to hustle anyone, but just does it to maintain his skills in managing minds. If you’re in the teens and twenties, he does this just for the fun of it. Continue reading
This is not seen very often, but does show up once in a while. Your opponent goes through the entire pre-shot routine, with practice strokes. Suddenly, he seems to lose confidence in his stroke.
He shifts his bridge hand over to the side and tests the shot with full follow-through. This is repeated several times and the bridge hand is brought back in line with the shot. Continue reading
This is a distraction effort that extends the concept of horse whispering, dog whispering, and pizza whispering, and the always popular money whispering. A “ring whisperer” version of this can be observed as a major character trait of Golum, the character in the Hobbit. This can be used continuously through the match or applied only during tense and difficult playing situations. Continue reading