South Pawin' It : The Hustler Out Hustled
A Pool Player's True Story written by Janice Moore
Back in the late 80's, I wanted to be the best Nine-Ball player in the world. Hoping to one-day play on the Pro Tour, I practiced daily. At the time, I was the only female player in town. During the first few years of my "training," there appeared on the scene, a kid who went to the local college; who played me every chance he got. He was a "want-to-be" hustler, whose goal in life seemed to be the desire to beat me. So far, he never had. Of course, the day finally came that he did.
At first I was winning, like always. Then, we changed the game. I was up and he started to talk about quitting, unless I was willing to play "his" game. Greed and pride triumphed, so I agreed, breaking my own rules about changing a game. The end result; he walked out of the poolroom with my car payment. That was the proverbial straw. My personal life had taken a turn for the worse that month, and here I was playing stupid on the table. You never play the other guy's game. Always play your own. Needless to say, that night doing as all good non-drinkers' do; I got smashed. Within the first thirty minutes of entering the local Country-Western club I had downed eight shots of Tequila, and two double Rum-Sours. By the end of the night a few more shots and a couple of more drinks, including a Watermelon Twist. I still don't know what a Watermelon Twist tastes like.
When I got home that night, my mother had to help me take my contacts out five or six times, and to bed just as many. Just when she thought everything would settle down, my father showed up. We had no idea that he knew where we lived, and here he was on our doorstep. Things got kind of ugly. To sum the story up, Daddy tried to hit my brother and before he could, my brother hit him. Leaving Daddy with a busted lip, and a black eye. Quickly, our mother jumped between them trying to stop the fight. Looking over her shoulder, she saw that things could get worse. I had gotten up again. Then she realized that I wasn't exactly aware of what was going on. I was sort of lying on the couch with my head propped up on one hand, watching. That's when she made the mistake of saying his name. The next thing she knew I was facing my father, somehow between him and my family. Surprising her, I calmly and politely told him to leave, "Go home, this is not your home. It's my home. You have your own home. This is our home. You go home to your home." She later told me that I had wedged him between the door and the doorpost. He couldn't come in, and he simply couldn't go out.
After the excitement was over, my mom put me to bed again. Including the by now hilarious process of taking my contacts out. All that night, I dreamed about finally facing my father, and running rack, after rack, after rack, of Nine-Ball. Waking up the next day, I told Mom about the wonderful dreams I'd had. And she told me about the parts of my "dreams" that had really occurred.
The next day having a little time to spare before I had to go to work; I went back to the poolroom. Of course the kid was there, but this time he out-hustled himself. He wanted to play some more. So, giving him fair warning that I had to go to work in less than thirty minutes - I agreed to play a few games. If! He was interested in playing for fifty a game. To give me a chance to win my money back. Only this time we played Tournament Rules, which at that time meant everything spots, and foul on the break, cue goes behind the line. He went for it; and this time we were playing my game. I won the break. From there on out the table belonged to me. After the second game, the kid started getting a bit upset. Giving him a chance to win his money back, we played the third game for a hundred. No sound was made during that last game. Everyone was watching, including the local road player who treated me like a little sister. The kid never did approach the table that afternoon, except to rack. I looked up after the match to see my player friend's jaw almost reaching the floor. After his shock wore off, he cornered me to tell me how I had scared him almost to death. First off for playing for fifty a game, then calmly bumping it up to one hundred. He thought I was crazy until he saw how I was playing. During that last game, I had shot the eight and the nine ball in left-handed. He knew that I had been practicing how to shoot left-handed. Because of my size there were shots that were hard for me to reach with my right, but not enough table to use a rake. Still he could hardly believe that I had made the shots. Later he told me what had really amazed him was the fact that I didn't even seem to realize that I was shooting left-handed. I had approached the table, changed bridge hands, and shot the ball like it was the most natural thing in the world. As I told him, for a hundred a pop, I couldn’t afford for it to be otherwise. Those were the first racks I ever ran.
Today, that 'kid' is a better player than I ever was. And, I'm proud to have been a part of his training. As for me, I hardly ever pick up a cue anymore, being a happily married homebody. Quite a change from the girl who wanted one day to be a professional billiards player. It was a good trade. I have a home that I love, and the late nights of a pool player no longer appeal to me. Still, I sometimes get the itch to pick up my Rocky Tillis or Schon and play a little Nine-Ball. Occasionally, I will even enter a tournament; just to see how I'll do.
Sometimes, I end up pleasantly surprised.
Please Note: The previous is not an endorsment to over indulge. It is simply the true story of the first time I ever ran a rack and the circumstances leading up to the event.
Credits: Story Illustration, original drawing by my mom sometime in the late 80's.
Original drawing © B R Murphrey of the BPhrey Website