At the tender age of sixteen I walked into the local pool room for the very first time.
As I walked over to the number one table and watched with amazement the best players in the house shoot pool I knew that I was going to fall in love with the game. I determined instantly that I would some day play as well as the players I was watching with wide eyes.
The pool room had ten tables with one always reserved for only the very top players and I soon discovered this was the table that big money games were played on.
The more inexperienced one was, the further away you had to play. I began coming in every day after school and sports practice. I had to play on one of the far end tables. I always had to challenge a player already at the table and we always played “loser pays for table time.” This was always me of course and although the table cost was only twenty cents per hour in those days I happily lost my school lunch money for the following day.
But I gained in experience, knowledge and ability during every game and on every shot plus learning by watching my better opponents.
After a few weeks I began winning and soon other players began to cease challenging me but went on to other tables where the pastures were greener. It was costing them too much for table time at my table and of course by now all my games were for free.
At times when I had no one to play with I would practice alone on one of the end tables. It was at this time that I read an article about a man by the name of “Phelan”, who was a partner of “Brunswick” at the time. He placed so called “diamonds” on the borders of the Brunswick pool tables. They were equally spaced apart and added to the attractiveness of the table. Those that played pool with Mr. Phelan soon learned that the diamonds were not placed there only for their cosmetic inhancement but that Phelan had installed them in such a mathmatical pattern that his use of simple but secret arithmetic allowed him to make seemingly impossible shots when necessary.
Since I loved math as a youth I would spend hours alone on an end pool table figuring out numbering systems, using addition, subtraction and division. After many weeks I finally had the Diamond system down pat. It was at this time that the owner of the pool room said to me “kid you are a natural, I think its time for you to start playing on the number one table”. I was thrilled to death. Each time I played a match on the number one table against all comers nobody came even close to winning against me. When playing Nine ball my opponents would say “there is no way to leave this kid safe. He makes impossible good, clean hits constantly.” Of course this was due to knowing the Diamond numbering system along with an understanding of the hidden diamond tracks on the table (book 4, hotshotsplus)
Each time I played on the number one table during this time nobody even came close to beating me because in Straight pool games of fifty points I would constsntly run all fifty balls. The games of Nine ball became my source of movies and school lunch money.
Back in those days, the 1940s the hustlers would travel to various pool rooms around the country looking for money game opponents. It was necessary for them to do this as no one wouild play them for money back in there own local pool room.In our pool room the players would stall the visiting hustler until I came in after school and then some one would say “tell you what, we’ll play this kid against you”. The hustler after looking over this gangly, tall skinny kid would begin taking bets from all the by standers.
After a few games of Nine ball or game of Straight pool the hustler would pay off his bets to every one and leave much poorer than when he arrived. Each of the bet winners would give me a quarter or dime from their winnings I would then happily leave knowing that with my new found dollar or two that I would be the richest kid in school the next day.
It was during this time in my early pool shooting career that I really found out what and who pool hustlers were. On several occasions I got to play against one of the better know pool sharks and hustler of his day. A man who traveled up and down the east coast looking for money games. His well known nick name at the time was New York Fats and/or Brooklyn Fats. Many years later and after the movie The Hustler was released he changed his name to Minnesota Fats. (see hotshotsplus.) It was back then that I became familiar with all the tricks of a hustler.The loud nose blowing, burping, coughing and noisely dropping of cue stick onto the floor with these distracting noises occuring each time I was to shoot my shot.
A few yearslater after serving in the army and then going to college I lived in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was there that I got to participate in the annual world championship Straight pool tournament that was held at the Stardust hotel and casino. Although I never got to play him I did get to watch him play and talk with the worlds greatest player, Willie Mosconi. Willie was the Babe Ruth and Joe Dimaggio of billiards. He was all gentleman but with ferocious talent.
He once ran 526 consecutive balls in Straight pool, a record that will never be broken. He said that he got so tired that on his 526th shot he got careless on position for his next shot. His cue ball became pinned between the rail and two object balls that he was frozen to. As great a player as he was (as revealed in his book years later) he was not a great bank shot or kick shot shooter. In all fairness he did not have to be as his ability to always get perfect position for his next three shots in a row he rarely had to bank or kick. He always aligned himself with a straight in or deliberate slightly angled shot.
When I look at a similar shot now to the one that caused Mosconis run to end, I see that Willie could possibly have made his 527th shot had he played bank and kick shots more. He apparently did not see the shot possibility as shown in “hot shots plus, book 5”He did however return the following day and ran an additional 300 plus balls in a row.
Years later during my career as a Stock Broker I learned the difference between gambling and speculating, gamble versus speculate. To speculate comes from the latin which means to seek out and to know in advance. To me that is the difference between a pool player and a pool shark. When a player can not play safe he will gamble on making a tough shot . The Shark will seek out the shot to take and know in advance the successful outcome.
I never liked being known as a pool hustler because I hustled nobody but was very often hustled myself much to the dismay and wallet of the would be hustler. Being known as a pool shark has always been a compliment to me. Therefore do not ever be embarresed or ashamed to be known as a shark when it comes to shooting/playing great pool.
You will be the slickest and best shark in the pool (room) by learning to excel in all the basics and advanced lessons provided to you in “hot shots plus”
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