You would think that a key requirement of any sharking trick is to intrude on your thoughts. But this apparently innocent tactic is a destroyer of focus if you are the type of person who likes to inform others about your opinions and viewpoints. A knowledgeable gamesman, well trained in applied psychology, immediately recognizes your personality type and uses this very effective tactic. All he has to do is appear to be a genial fellow whose only purpose in life is to find you and become your confidant. His intent and purpose is to get you talking, a lot.
There is a common saying, “To appear wise, disengage mouth, and engage brain.” In other words, if you want to learn something – simply shut up and pay attention. The converse of this little morsel of enlightenment is simple, “To make bad decisions, spend too much time talking.” Basically, the brain can’t consider results and consequences when the mouth is being used.
The entirety of his effort is to significantly decrease your analysis skills. The hustler’s question is: how can he convince you to not do a proper table analysis? Easy – make sure you are too busy talking about something – anything.
A hustler, coming into a pool hall, can quickly identify the personality styles of everyone in the pool hall with just a few moments of observation. Once he knows whether someone is outgoing, talkative, quiet, depressed, happy, etc., he has lined up a set of sharks, ready to apply to each individual.
Having identified you as too talkative, he begins with the usual introductions. His first comments are along the lines of, “Hello. My name is <some name>. I’ve heard good things about you.” This and other seemingly minor compliments immediately get you started.
Essentially, you voluntarily step into his trap. You might ask, “So what have you heard?” He responds with some general compliments, such as, “You’re a decent player and a good all-around competitor.” With this confirmation and invitation, you first bask in a moment of self-congratulations, and then proceed to take over the conversation.
As needed, he provides leading questions to keep you going. These examples are pool-related, but he adapts them to whatever subject you are rambling on about.
- How old were you when you first started playing?
- What was it like?
- Who have you played with?
- What are some of the other places in the world you played?
- How often do you practice?
- What do you like best about this sport?
Because this intelligent individual obviously has an attentive set of ears, your appreciation and respect of your opponent rises. Any request for more details are happily provided.
Everyone appreciates the occasional opportunity to brag up oneself to an obviously keen listener. If you are blinded by your own ego, you probably won’t realize you were sharked until long after the match is over. And if you realize that you are spending too much time talking and not enough time thinking, he has a significant lead in games. It’s like giving him a huge handicap.
As a general rule in any match, do NOT get friendly with an adversary before and during a match. It is very important that you constantly remember “there are no friends on the table”.. If you can catch yourself spewing verbal diarrhea, take responsibility for your stupidity and put all of your attention get back into the competition. Stop all communications and only offer simple grunts, as needed.
This is a type of hustler’s trap that may require the suffering of a devastating loss before you understand what happened. Unfortunately, sometimes the best lessons are learning only by experiencing a calamity. The good news is – once such a lesson is learned, you do not easily become a victim in the future (maybe).