This is an old geezer shark – usually pulled on any player younger than the pool hustler (minimum age to qualify as a geezer is mid-fifties). If you see this scheme in action, stay and watch the match. It can be quite entertaining.
The old geezer, with all due seriousness, constantly asks his opponent which ball he should be shooting. Occasionally, he stands stock still for a long time while it is still his turn. He only moves when the youngster reminds him to shoot. He says in surprise, “It’s my turn? Are you sure?” This is alternated with complaints about problems with old age.
For example, in an 8 ball game, on every other shot he turns to his competitor and asks, “Am I stripes or solids?” In 9 Ball, he queries, “Which one is next?” When it is his turn, he stays in his chair, intently watching the table. After about 15 seconds, he looks over to the youngster and says, “Why aren’t you shooting? It’s your turn, isn’t it?”
The old fellow accomplishes several things all at the same time. He forces his opponent’s attention from the game and the necessary thinking needed for proper tactics. He suffers deepened frustration over constantly giving the same answers to the same questions. These all combine to make the youngster reach an assumption that the old guy just can’t be a serious competitor.
The old geezer further covers up his skills with a blanket of confusion. He randomly stops at any point in the game to turn away from the table to say hello to a passing acquaintance. He gets down on a shot, does a couple practice strokes, then suddenly rises and asks if it is still his turn.
He may even ask confusing questions, and then ignore any answer. With this buffoon-like facade, his young competitor doesn’t quite realize how carefully the old man is playing each shot. Nothing fancy, but all resulting in situations to the oldster’s advantage and the youngster’s disadvantage.
All of this work is designed to dull his opponent’s thinking, as well as interrupt any intelligent tactical thinking. He can overcome a significant skill difference with this shark.
When you see it applied to younger players, don’t interfere. This is just another life lesson that kids need in the long process of becoming seasoned players. Being exposed to an oldster who wins with cunning tricks is one of those necessary experiences. After all, some day they too expect to use this shark.
Watching this happen is always worth the time – and you might pick up a trick or two for later use. If anyone is interested in side bets, put a few bucks on the old fellow.
If you are this guy’s opponent, the best response to this shark is to concentrate on playing your game. Don’t allow his random statements to affect your competitive focus. Treat him as you would any other competitive shooter.
As an alternative, you can use a more proactive approach. As he is making his declarations of confusion, you can be more “helpful”. Start anticipating his queries by pointing out which ball he should shoot next.
You can even recommend how the shot should be played and which ball should be the next target. Not only can you be generous with your advice, you can even go to the table to assist him in setting up for a shot. Come up close and check his line of aim and stance. Offer suggestions to improve.
Another option is to give him a nickname. Start calling him Old Dude or Gramps – as in, “Hey Gramps. Take the 3 ball next.” “Come on Gramps. You can do better than that.” etc.
Eventually, he realizes this trick isn’t working and the game should settle out to a match focusing on skill. This is not to say that he won’t apply another mind game – but generally, being “found out” is enough to make him behave for the rest of the match.