This pool shark combines some delaying tactics with the game of hide and seek thrown in. The hustler only needs to use this a couple times during a match to throw your game focus off kilter. It is rarely the only shark being used against you. But, piled on top of other distractions, it can be one more nail in the coffin of your loss.
All that is required is for him to be in charge of racking the balls for the next game. It doesn’t matter whether he is racking for himself or for you. The trick is very simple. As the balls are being assembled in preparation for the start of the game, he leaves one ball off the table. He first moves the balls onto the table and only then brings out the rack.
It is at this moment that he exclaims to everyone – “One of the balls has gone missing.”
This initiates a desperate search for the last ball and becomes a major distraction. The competition immediately stops. Anyone who was concentrating on the possible strategies and tactics of the previous games is rudely interrupted. This shark, during the moments it is applied, completely destroys any kind of ongoing thoughtful analysis.
Pocket Table trick
On a pocket table, as the balls are pulled out of the pockets, the hustler leaves one ball in the right or left foot pocket. Every other ball is thrown onto the table to be racked. When he gathers together the balls into the triangle, the mystery of the missing ball is obvious.
Looking confused with a slight frown on his face, he desperately scans the table surface to see if he forgot to include the ball. On this failure, he looks over to you for help. Performing the obligatory assistance to his silent request, you go around and start checking each of the other four pockets on the table. If you don’t immediately respond, he stays in place and makes a verbal request for your assistance. And, if you still don’t immediately jump up to perform his biding, he reluctantly and with a disappointed look on his face, slowly goes around the table to check the other pockets.
If you do acquiesce and start checking the other pockets, you arise and start looking into or reaching into each pocket. With careful timing, just as you arrive to check the last pocket, he rechecks the pocket where he left the ball, and with an air of surprised embarrassment, pulls the ball out and completes preparation for the game.
There is a minor variation to this trick. He can leave the “missing ball” in the last pocket you would check on going around the table. You would check three pockets, and then discover the ball in the fourth pocket. He can do this by going towards the pocket, removing all but one ball, thereby leaving it for you to find.
Ball Return Table trick
In a ball return table, where all the balls come down to a bucket area at the foot of the table, he removes all of the balls except one. When the missing ball is discovered, he asks you to look into each of the other pockets to see if the ball happens to be stuck in plain sight.
When this verification is unsuccessful, he throws you several balls to roll down the tubes or rails. Only when a ball has been rolled down each of the six pockets does he reach in and “find” the missing ball.
In the same process as above, he is only interested in making you jump around the table pursuing a missing ball that he already knows where it is. Being forced to perform on demand is what distracts.
Only allow the occurrence of a missing ball to happen once. After that, whenever he racks, face away or move away from the table so that you don’t see or hear his signal for assistance. The key is to ensure your eyeballs are not within capturing range of his. If you are within earshot to hear his help request, tell him to wait a minute while you fiddle with something. Busy your hands with something and after about 20-30 seconds look up and ask him, “What was it you wanted?” If he looks a little pissed, give yourself an extra point.