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The Art Of The Pool Shark
 Posted on Tuesday, May 28 2024 @ 08:28:11 UTCby admin
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The Art Of The Pool Shark

Throughout human history, there have been many hustles, some more respectable than others, but the art of the pool shark has transcended generations and language barriers. In the US and UK, billiards and pool tables became widespread in saloons and bars throughout cities and the Wild West in the mid-19th century. Within the space of a few years, pool sharks started to ply their trade against unwitting patrons.

Hustles were more common before the internet, when people weren’t as privy to the tricks people would play. Saloons and bars are places where skilled players are often found in pool games. Similar ploys occurred in card-based casino games, like poker hustles or card-counting in blackjack.

Although card-counting practices in blackjack later moved to traditional, land-based casinos before the rise of blackjack online, there was still a skill to it. If a player was found employing card counting at a blackjack table, they would be asked to leave pretty quickly. Although there are also some dark arts involved in pool sharking, there’s also a big chunk of skill involved, too.

"Read More..." for the details.





The Origins Of Pool Sharks

It’s hard to pinpoint when the first pool shark emerged, as pool and billiards are games that have existed for hundreds of years in many different formats. Historians are of the general belief that it emerged not long after the introduction of the tables to establishments throughout the West in the mid to late 19th century.

By unwittingly pretending to play poorly or convincing people to bet money against them before whipping out their elite-level skills, pool sharks would often travel from town to town or city to city, scooping up piles of cash and coins and moving on to the next tavern before they ruffled too many feathers.

Pool sharks would use many tactics and tools to trick people into thinking they aren’t as good as they are. They might play a few deliberately bad games, miss a few easy shots, or get people to double down on their bets when it looks like they have the game won - only to be hustled once again.

Infamous Craftsman Of The Trade

It might be a push to call it a trade, but nobody can say that pool sharking doesn’t require a great deal of skill and intuition. There have been an array of famous pool sharks over the years - many of whom have gone on to become professional players but either started off pool sharking or continued to practice the dark art alongside their professional aspirations.

Ralph Greenleaf, Willie Hoppe, and Welker Cochran are considered the top three names in pool and billiards, especially in the US. However, they weren’t renowned for their pool sharking and made a nice bit of cash from a variety of exhibition matches. The most high-profile pool shark would have to be Luther “Wimpy” Lassiter.

Lassiter was a high-roller pool hustler, making over $250,000 in the US in the 1940s. Adjusted for inflation, this figure is somewhere in the region of $4.5 million. Luther didn’t just spend his time trawling around the pool halls picking up handsome wads of walking around money, though. No, he also won half a dozen World Championships just to prove he had what it took to take on the top guys.

Ronnie O’Sullivan is one of the greatest snooker players of all time, admittedly, but not by his own admission. A BBC show that saw him hustling people around the pool halls of the US brought the art of the pool shark back into focus.

Final Thoughts

Throughout the 20th century, as the money grew in pool, billiards, and snooker, it wasn’t an art that disappeared. Still, the quality of players who would try and pull these stunts diminished, choosing instead to move into the pro ranks and play against other top players for big prizes.

As pool and billiards evolved and turned into a professional competition with prize money, pool sharks found other, more reputable ways to earn their cash from their given talents. The recent Pool Masters 2024 tournament had a nice $125,000 prize pool for the winner to take the lion’s share.

So, while pool sharks might still occasionally try to get one over on people, the art is nowhere near as prolific as it would’ve been a century and a half ago. Perhaps the art has been relegated to the pool halls and dive bars in small towns and city backstreets for now.

Still, we’re sure it’s never going to die out so long as there are people who want to place a friendly wager against someone they play at pool - and those who are wise enough to pick up on an opportunity to exhibit their pool skills against unsuspecting folk!









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