29. Classic Hustler
“While in undergrad, I brought a new college buddy over to an old high school friend’s house to hang out. At the old friend’s house were a couple of other old friends, just hanging around, drinking a few beers and playing pool.
My new buddy was pretty unassuming. When he first meets people, he can be pretty quiet and seems a little out of place. After he gets to know people, he opens up and is a blast to be around.
My old buddies, for some reason, decided to hustle my new buddy in pool. I mean, super textbook shark moves. Let’s play a friendly game, and if you think you’re any good at it, we can play for money, etc.
Well, the thing that I knew and they didn’t was my new buddy is a guy who played on the circuits for a while, winning pool tournaments across Texas. He lived and breathed pool, and, of course, saw these guys coming from a mile away.
And I just watched it all go down. Figured, if they are going to treat someone that I bring over that way, they deserve what they get.
He roped ’em in like only Ali could. Missed super easy shots, made it look like he lucked in just enough to keep the game interesting and pull out the ‘lucky’ win.
Then, they played for money. I can’t even remember how much per ball, but he played two or three games, slowly seeming to get better or lucking out just enough to keep them engaged while still taking a little of their money.
Then, the last game happened and I’ve never seen someone come alive more quickly. He sank shot after shot after shot. Shots I couldn’t make if I practiced for a year straight. The entire time, taunting them and updating how much money they owed them. I don’t think my old friend had a chance to take a shot at all.
Afterward, my old friends were furious: ‘How could you bring this guy over here and let him hustle us like that?’
‘How could you try to hustle a new friend of mine just minutes after I bring him over and introduce him to you,’ I asked. ‘You earned this one, man.’
It ends happily, though. The old friend who owned the pool table and my new buddy ended up becoming good friends and are still in contact about two decades later.”