Road players, hustlers, sharks. They come into an unsuspecting town to win a few dollars and leave before the well runs dry. With technological advances, pool hustlers are becoming a rarity. How is technology affecting these players?
Let’s go back to a time before cell phones, the Internet and local pool magazines in every bar.
It’s a chilly day and the pool room is packed with players. A guy walks in, a legend, unknown to the room, of course. With a pizza delivery shirt on and a pocket full of money, he strolls to the counter and asks for a table. He keeps his eyes on the best tables and quickly sees his top competition. He will keep them for last.
Once at the table, the hustler throws the balls out making enough noise for everyone to notice. He grabs his cheap “looking” cue out of its soft case and pulls an instructional book from his jacket pocket. He does drills, pretending to have no fundamentals and a strong desire to win.
A few days go by like this, and finally a decent player takes notice and provides him with lessons. The hustler takes notes and thanks him for his time. On the next visit, the hustler talks to the player that gave him the lessons and says he heard gambling will make him a better player. Of course the ignorant player goes along with the comment reining it true, thinking he is going to win a few dollars from this newbie.
The two of them play cheaply, the road hustler getting a handicap to make it “fair.” They play and play. Then others want to play, knowing they can beat both of them. After a few months go by like this, winning only enough to get by, the road hustler makes his move. He challenges the best players in town to a game they can’t refuse and asks them to bet as much as they like. Everyone knows this pizza delivery driver can’t win. The hustler plays getting a handicap, and by the end, he is the one who is giving the spot. He then disappears into the sunset toward his next town of prey.
Hustlers of today have to plan a lot more than those of yesteryear. Now, as soon as an unknown pool player comes into town and beats everyone out of there money, someone has taken their photo and sent it to other pool rooms. Sometimes, a photo is sent around to good players around the country to see if anyone knows them before action is commenced. All of these factors make it tough on road players.
The Internet is an issue that has no end. With websites galore, pool tournament postings and forums, once you have won any kind of tournament, they will find you. A road player might try to get by using a different name, but there is a problem with that. Since most pool rooms want to hold an I.D. in exchange for the billiard balls, it could blow your cover and you could be put into a sticky situation.
All in all, road players will adapt. If they don’t, well, they will become extinct, leaving only tournament play or set up matches between top players. I for one would like to see the legend of road players go on.