(H&S) Hustles & Sharks – Noises

(About the Author)

Learn how to Beat the Sharks

The idea of using noise to distract an opponent during an important shot is an old, old concept. In any critical shot that requires focused attention, any kind of noise distraction can be highly effective in destroying concentration to cause a miss.

Back in the 1920s, the jingling of coins or keys in the pocket was a popular golfing shark. The trick quickly migrated to the billiard room. This and other game changing noises have remained in use to this day. The coin jingling still shows up every once in a while when some kid “discovers” it and finds that it works on his friends. When he finally tries it on a seasoned player, his efforts usually result in public embarrassment.

That specific shark may be old hat, but noises in general are still popular and effective. These do not require line of sight to work. They can be done to you when facing any direction and only need to be loud enough to reach your ears.

There are two types of noise distractions.

  • Repeated noise. It can vary in volume and used at varying lengths of time. It can be a foreground (directly intrusive) or background (cumulatively intrusive) noise. It is very effective if you are sensitive to sound.
  • Abrupt noise. This is louder and sudden, timed to coincide as closely as possible with your stroke.

Here are a few tricks that can be used against you:

  • Knocking and rapping, sometimes in time to any juke box music (or digital music device). If knuckles aren’t loud enough, a tool can be used, such as a pen, pocket marker, cell phone, lighter, etc. These ensure the sound penetrates the noise of any ambient background noise, such as a juke box.
  • Finger snapping (and toe tapping if the floor is wooden) is common, especially when used with music. Available music (i.e, juke box, MP3 player, etc.) is a good excuse, but not really necessary. Simple humming is enough of a musical accompaniment to apply these noise generators.
  • Excessive chalk grinding is feasible – but requires a very quiet environment. When done during perfect silence and with increased pressure, the screeching can be very penetrating. To a billiards purist where the only noticeable sound should be the clicking of balls, this can be bothersome.
  • Tip tapping with a cue tool can require active banging to roughen the tip so that it holds chalk better. Excessive use can be effective.
  • Stick bouncing is a common way to self-entertain during long waits. The cue is lifted up a few inches and dropped to bounce on its rubber bumper. (Does not work on carpet.)
  • Stick falling requires a hard floor (and the use of a house cue). If carpeted, a bunch of house cues have to be knocked over to make enough noise.
  • Coughing and sneezing is popular. In an establishment where good manners are a standard of membership, these have to be done using the “stifle” method (turning slightly away and holding one or both hands near your mouth).


If an inexperienced hustler attempts these, you can usually embarrass him into stopping. For example, tell the wannabe hustler, “That old shark has moss growing on it. I haven’t seen one of those in years. Where did you dig that up?” Glance over to any railbird and say in a loud voice, “What an amateur.”

When you face an experienced trickster, tell him, “Once, but not twice. OK?” If he acknowledges your recognition, you won’t be facing other variations on the theme of disquiet. But if he denies any attempt, you have a free-hand opportunity to apply many of the gamesmanship tricks in this book.

This means that you are not restricted in quantity, quality, or volume. The experienced hustler is forced to acknowledge his inability to handle your responses and should be ready to agree to a cease fire.


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