Why do you play pool? Do you PLAY pool? Or do you play AT pool? Or are you a Player? Do you live for pool, or is pool a diversion from the other chapters in your life?
Is monetary gain your primary motive? Secondary? Or is a bit of supplemental income just “nice” if it happens? When you make a few bucks at pool, do those bucks go to pay your bills or is the money most likely to stay right in the pool hall in the form of beverages and tips? If money does not come your way through pool, will paying rent become an issue?
The reasons for playing this wonderful game vary over the normal lifetime of a pool player. At the start, especially for those who start the game in their teens, it is a competitive thing among young men who compete for everything and at everything. Be it grades, who can jump the highest, run the fastest, throw a ball or get Anna Lee to kiss him.
We emulate better players, copying their good habits, their bad habits, habits having nothing to do with pool, and wind up dressing like them, all in hopes of having our game osmosis their game skills into ours.
As we become more mature in the game, we filter out the crap and spend time in honest reflection about what makes the balls do what they do, and how strategy and planning can overcome shots that approach impossibility.
Then along comes money. Every player I know had times in their life where they would gamble with their peers, fearlessly willing to lay their net worth on the line for the ego of the win and the extra bucks in the pocket. Most of us were shortstops and just accumulated funds into larger chunks while waiting for the bigger dogs to come take it from us. After a bit, you learned to avoid the bigger dogs while continuing to take from the lesser dogs. Life was good.
The only reason this worked is because your game was improving faster than you peers. Older players, who could beat your socks off a few months ago now had to bear down and in another year or so didn’t stand a chance. They became wary of you and other youth, recognizing that the youngsters were catching up.
Watch any PBS series about herd animals, such as elephants, wolves, lions or prairie dogs. The social structure revolved around the social hierarchy. The same it true of pool. Human nature, not necessarily at its finest, but human nature nonetheless. Ego, money, camaraderie, combat, thievery, are all elements of why somebody plays pool.
Oops, forgot one. Sex. As Hollywood figured out its second day in existence, Sex Sells. In my youth, any woman who entered a pool hall was there to drag Dad out before Mom figured out where he was hiding.
Now, it is marketed to women (beautiful woman, drink, cute guys, woman picks pool playing guy, guy happy, other guys sad, drink the drink, woman initiates kiss) and guys will flock to the nearby pool hall and drop their beer money in hopes that a similar event will transpire and they will be the selected stud. It might work for somebody. Somebody else.
On more than one occasion I have witnessed players using pool as foreplay in the dance of love. Now, let’s be honest, you have to be a desperate man to go after love in a pool hall, but now and again it works for some players. As for me, if I had to acquire a lady friend in a pool hall, the phrase Pocket Pool would become my only reality.
These "Two Tonys" pounced on a couple of woman who had put on their finest CFM dresses, (Come Find Me – well, a close translation anyway) and taken the pool table next to me.
The wobble in their bridges and strokes told that they were not interested in the game, only interested in being seen, and I saw a lot of what was to be seen. Gotta love it.
The Tonys made their plans, and joined the two women, and they split into two teams, two couples, to play pool.
The Tonys apparently forgot their original intentions and fell into the competitive spirit on the table and started to give Aim-Here, Shoot-the-4, Bank-the-2 instructions to the two women who were not happy about wasting their CFM outfits on a couple of pool players with a total of $14 between them.
When the Tonys went to the head, I chimed in “Ladies, you do not have to follow those instructions from the Tonys. They are obviously pool-clueless and apparently women-clueless or they would be focusing their attentions on your lovely outfits and contents therein.
Sooooooo, when they return, I suggest you ignore their instructions and if you want to shoot a ball that matches your outfit or don’t feel like using the white ball at all, just do what you will.”
The two women looked at each other for a second, simultaneously named a dance club, nodded, licked their lips, blew me a nice wet kiss (which is as close as I have EVER gotten to an in-poolroom upgrade from Pocket-Pool to the Dance-of-the-Wild-Monkeys) and they split leaving the Tonys to return to an empty table.
“Hey, Carlo, where’d the women go?” “Dunno, they muttered something about going to look for straight guys who’d be more interested in them than arguing over banking the 10. Question: Since when do male pool players go to the head together? Use your head. The BIG one.”
Which brings me to Rotundo Raoul. Well, that is not his name, but kind of describes the fellow. RR is probably 600 pounds. No, not a typo, Six Hundred. His weight probably varies by 30 pounds plus or minus, as a function of what animal herd recently crossed his path and the timing of his potty habits.
RR is also one of the most fun guys around with a great sense of humor and a laugh that makes the whole room wiggle and jiggle in a synchronized dance with his ample midsection. A GIANT 8-ball with a sense of humor.
FatMan is on the right
Rotundo plays a great game of pool. Especially on bar-boxes. Eight-ball on a bar box is one of his specialties. Do not underestimate his 8-foot or 9-foot game, but he is not as likely to get belly-hooked on a bar-box. One of the jokes is that all you have to do to leave RR belly-hooked on a 9-footer is to leave it in the middle of the table for a left-handed shot. Jack it up a little and enjoy watching a 600-pounder squirm.
I have yet to figure out what makes him play the game. He already plays a great game, but hates to lose more than anybody else. OK, I can buy that part, anyway.
When the match is not going his way, he pulls out all the hustler stops. Sharks, comments, jibes, threats, subterfuge, sabotage, and whatever else comes to mind.
In a tournament, he’ll start whispering things, accusing you of slipping a 5-spot to the tournament director to let you play on the same table (like, who cares) two matches in a row, or if you want to bet 50 on the next game?
“Hey, how come you got to play on this table? Didn’t I just see you play that other match on this table? You like this table? What is funny about this table you gonna use on me? I don’t see no posts or nothing, why would you pay five to play on this again? Are you sharkin’ me? It not right to play on the same table two in a row, he (the Tournament Director) must be your friend. You two buddies or sumpin? What kinda buddies? Yada, yada, yada.”
The only reason I can figure that RR has not had his life ended, is that inside every 600-pound man is a 300-pound-man-of-steel.
There has to be, or the whole mess would have crumbled to the ground in a crunch of shattered bones and torn ligaments decades ago. I have heard that he is as quick as a cat for a few steps but if he has to turn a corner around a pool table, you are relatively safe.
RR is not happy unless he is gambling, but then again, he is not happy when he is gambling. For those who decline to gamble with him, he has RR’s ultimate insult. Well, he thinks it is an insult, nobody else does. “Hey, you got No Gamble. Yeah, you a No-Gamble MF.” I think the MF stands for My Friend. Maybe not.
Well, to me, it seems that Raoul is only happy when ALL of the following are happening at the same time. First, he is gambling; second, winning; third, talking you out of shots; fourth, getting ALL the rolls; and fifth but not last, having his comedy routine work on the on-lookers.
As you might imagine, some pool players are not happy about somebody whose mouth kicks into overdrive whenever he is losing or has any fear he might lose. During one tournament he was playing a World Class play that I shall call “The Best Pool Player in Texas who Holds a Day Job.” Let me just give him a name for the article. I'll just use some common name. Hmmm, how about Bob? I’ll just call him Bob.
Well, Bob is a class act, heads down pool player fully capable of running out the match at any time. He has run 9-racks of 9-ball, something I have failed to do, even with ball-in-hand on every shot. I know. I’ve tried.
Bob, is not a sharker, and does not appreciate such shenanigans, considering them beneath him. Bob goes for the smooth moves, like the cloud of talcum powder, and the dead-nuts safe.
I have waited out the eventual dispersion of the talc-cloud but have yet to figure a way to undo a dead-nuts safety without the use of a thumb-pushout or a pecker-pushout, neither of which can be accomplished without a subtle move from a well-trained appendage.
So Bob was running over Rotundo in a match and Bob crushed a 9-ball break. Well, as balls flew around the table it looked like nothing would fall, but mid-table collisions changed things so something might find a pocket.
The 300-pound-man-of-steel took over and 600-pound Raoul hopped up to use body English to keep the ball from falling.
Unfortunately, due to the ball finding a pocket and the outer shape of Rotundo, gravity decided to exert its influence on both the ball and on his pants.
Unlike the bottom of the pocket for the ball, and due to the topology of RR from the waist down, there was no natural impediment to stop RR’s pants from proceeding to a floor-bound position not unlike that of a coiled rope or a dropped shower towel.
So, I guess in a nutshell, (fortunately, RR’s skivs did not take the same path, so nobody saw a nutshell) it looks like Bob literally "Shot RR’s pants off!"
I wonder if he ever shot off his mouth “Hey, you no-gamble My Friend!” at Bob? Bob just might have reached into Bob’s still-attached pants and pulled out a wager that would have rattled that 300-pound-man-of-steel right down to his last rivet.
Hmmmm. I wonder if those little things lying on the ground around his pants were rivets? Wonder what they were? They were little brownish things? Oh, well. I can only guess. Maybe he scared it out of him, too?
Nawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. Besides, that is a very, very bad mental image.
Nobody paid me any money to put these links here, I just thought they deserved it. Tell them Carlo sent you, maybe they'll buy me a beer.
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