This shark is designed to seriously consider whether your health is may not be as good as you thought – and maybe you need to have a serious discussion with your medical practitioner. This trick is a diversionary tactic to redirect some of your game focus from the competition onto thoughts and worries about your personal abilities to be alive tomorrow. If you are an introspective personality, this can be very effective. If you are a hypochondriac, it would be easier to pay up and go home.
It starts when the pool hustler extends his hand for the regular greeting of competitors before the match begins. As the introductions are completed and the appropriate wishes for a competitive match (i.e., "Let's have fun kicking each other's butts." or some other pleasantry), he holds his grip on your hand for a fraction of a second longer, staring intently into your face. At the moment of release, he says something like, "You look in good shape but ..." and leaves the sentence dangling in mid-air. He pauses for a couple seconds, nods to himself, and then turns away.
The conversation proceeds with:
<he> "Did you just recover from an illness?"
<you> "No. Why?"
<he> Somewhat vaguely, "You look a little off. I'm not sure. <pause> Could be nothing. <pause> Are you sure you weren't sick the last couple of months?"
<you> "I'm sure. Nothing wrong with me."
<he> "Fine - fine. Don't worry about it. Let's play."
Forced by curiosity, you might press the point. He responds with, "Well, it looks like you are a bit tired. You seem to be, maybe a bit pale, too."
And this is when you fall into his trap. By asking questions about his rationale for these statements, you have just given him the match.
With your encouragement, he may offer suggestions for rest and relaxation, trips to spas, etc. If you are particularly insistent on clarification, he has you thinking about how soon you can get to your doctor or even wonder if it might be better to go straight to the emergency room.
The pool hustler needs to appear to be somewhat knowledgeable. This only needs an apparent understanding of medical vocabulary. This is easy to do with a couple hours of casual reading on the WebMD site. The preparation is all that is needed to add gravitas to his medical ramblings. He may even say he has experience as a health care advisor.
Nodding sagely, he opines, "I have seen something like this before. One person I talked with followed my advice to get a checkup and discovered some problems with his red cell count. If he hadn't checked, he might have died." Here he is implying that the checkup was based on his suggestions, but never actually states it was someone's routine test.
Whenever you let a pool hustler guide your thinking patterns, you become susceptible to his influences. This shark is intended to guide your thinking – but only if you let it.
As soon as you recognize that this is another distraction trick, it is easy to guide his conversation away from yourself and onto someone else. Start doing some digging. “You are an experienced expert. Do you know about <something>.” Start asking for medical opinions about a friend’s sleeping problems or a relative’s digestive disagreements.
His efforts to internalize your focus appear pretty weak once you are on the offensive. You can actually continue this process and put him entirely on the defensive – to the point where he desperately looks for an escape.
One advantage of this medical aggression is that he goes on the defensive, throwing off his ability to play well. Anytime it looks like his game is coming together, ask another health question.