Thursday, November 26, 2009

Cheaters at Pool: Pity the Poor Desperate Fools

“Integrity is not a conditional word. It doesn't blow in the wind or change with the weather. It is your inner image of yourself, and if you look in there and see a man who cheats, then you know you are a worthless human being.”

I have to admit, there is a part of me, a small part that says people who are so desperate to win at pool that they resort to cheating are to be pitied. I mean, they truly are pitiful human beings. Thankfully, a larger part dominates, the one that screams “You no good mother-effin’, cheatin’ piece of crap – you’re lower than snake shit.”

The owner of the pool room where I grew up had zero tolerance for cheaters, air-barreling welchers, and other slick characters who thought they might make a score at his establishment. He dealt with them decisively - by throwing their asses out.

Down here in Florida, things aren’t so simple, especially in barrooms. For one thing, people who own the bars aren’t likely to make any moves that might cut into their revenues. Then, there’s the fact that their establishments are usually left in the hands of bar maids who don’t know squat about pool and couldn’t care less. And, of course, you have to consider the quirky nature of the rules which often vary from bar to bar. Around here, bar rules usually mean no safes, honest-effort, call the rails and kisses. Crazy, but that’s what it is.

Like the other day, I’m sitting at my usual perch, right next to the first bar table, watching the local Friday night bar tournament, when a player snookers himself on the 8-ball and calls a kick into the corner using one rail. Now, the 8-ball’s on the rail, so the call of “one-rail” immediately got my attention. Were it my shot, I would have called two rails allowing the cue ball to hit the second rail just in front of the 8. That is, if I really wanted to make the ball. I suspect that this player had no intention of pocketing the 8 and hoped only to knock it toward the hole. So, the player launches his kick shot. It hits the head rail then angles toward the 8-ball. It was pretty well on line, except it hit the side rail just before the eight and knocks the eight into the corner.

To the unknowing, it looked like a great shot. People were clapping and hooting and hollering. They did not realize it was technically a bad shot. Maybe they didn’t hear him call “one-rail.” Maybe they didn’t care. His opponent, a member of my pool league team, knew it was a bad shot as, of course, did I. The tournament director asked “Who won?” and I told her “Craig, because it was a bad hit.” Then, the arguing started. People started saying the hit looked good to them. I’m saying, “If you had been watching you would have seen it hit the long rail – he said ‘One rail.” Things continued to go back and forth like that with people who could not have been watching closely swearing that the shot was good.

The thing is, the guy who made the shot, and the subsequent bad hit, had as good a view of the cue ball as I did. He knew, as well as I and his opponent, that it was a bad hit and he could have settled the argument quickly by just admitting it. But, he wouldn’t. Why? Well, that would have meant the end of the night for him – the loss would have knocked him out of the tournament.

Eventually, to settle things, they decided to play the game again. The cheater won this game, though he was aided by another bad hit which he didn’t call on himself. Call me stupid, but when I make a bad hit I stand up and admit it right away and relinquish my turn. I don’t wait to see if my opponent notices or to see if he’s going to call it on me – that’s sleazy.

Anyway, the way I feel now, I don’t think I’ll be attending this tournament any time soon.

Been cheated? Leave a comment detailing your experience.


Unknown said...

Ace, I for one, commend you on your practice of calling fouls on yourself. You can't buy character, it's not for sale. You've got plenty in my book.

Keep up the good work and keep blogging, but play more often on bigger tables and get out of the bars. You're more likely to run into people who know the real rules and play by them.

Frank said...

I'm the type that always calls fouls on myself. I also am intimately familiar with the type of rules and player you're describing. I'm not a fan of either.

That being said, unless it were explicitly stated that you have to call the adjacent rail on a kick, I would argue that this guy actually did win. The second rail need not be called in that situation, IMHO.

Frank said...

I should also mention, do you need to call that same adjacent rail when you make a bank instead of a kick? Never.

Ace Toscano said...

Well, the rules are pretty explicit, here - on kicks you have to call the exact number of rails the cue ball will contact before it strikes the object ball. Everyone here knows the importance of calling one rail or two.

Ace Toscano said...

I reiterate, I don't like these rules - I would prefer to play ball-in-hand with safes allowed - but, when I show up for one of these bar tournaments, I'm agreeing to play by the rules.

On simple shots - banks or straight-in shots that don't involve kisses - you don't have to call it when object balls brush against the rail. You do have to call it if the cue ball brushes a rail on the way to the object ball. Players generally state it as "cue ball off the rail." On complex shots - shots where the object ball is kissing or caroming off another ball - you have to call rails touched by the object ball, too. For example, six ball off the rail and off the ten ball into the corner, won't be a good shot if the six misses the rail and goes off the ten into the pocket.

And as much as I dislike these rules, I have to admit they represent the great equalizer. Time and again, I've seen "A" players from the pool rooms show up at bar tournaments and get beaten because, unless they break and run out, these rules present a lot of problems for them.