Gone Fishin'

Written by David Sapolis

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The Reel - The reel is used to pull the line, or the cash. The fish can bite your line all day, but if you can't reel them in, you're in trouble. Never let anyone off the hook if you can help it.

An experienced player knows which fish to keep and which ones to throw back. You don't want to scare away the other fish, so it's real important not to look too dangerous too soon. Remember, The Gamblers make the mistake of playing too intense from the get go. Patience is the key to it all. Many guys sit there looking like cartoon characters with the dollar signs flashing in their eyes. They go for the kill too soon, mainly out of the excitement of the situation. You have to be able to sit in the boat waiting for a tug on the line. Let the fish bite the line. That's the difference between the fish and the fisherman. The fisherman waits for a tug on the line. The fish bites the line. The best way I can explain that to you, is reminding you of that over-zealous idiot that exists at every pool hall I've ever been to. You know the guy. The jack ass who approaches everybody and anybody for "a money game" that is usually tilted in his favor. More times than not, he's usually desperate to win some cash. He's in a category all to himself, spawned by being half Gambler and half Pond-scum. Identifying when that is and is not the case is an art form all in itself, but for the sake of this subject, let's imagine he's desperate. He will approach you. That in itself tells me that he's a fish. Why? I spent many years on the road. I learned slow but I learned good. What I learned best, I learned hard. The biggest thing that I learned was that if I played at a table by myself, minding my own business, eventually somebody would approach me for a game. Many would possibly see this as a passive approach to the objective, but let's not forget what happened to Custer at Little Big Horn. He took the bait and look what happened to him. With this approach, I became a ruthlessly successful road player. It all comes down to selecting the right fishing spot, and choosing your battles carefully. I always followed the rule of allowing the game to find me, as opposed to me finding it. This gives the fish in the pond the idea that they are in charge of the situation, when in actuality, you've been waiting for them all day.

Many seasoned at the art of creating a game know what to look for in a good fishing spot. There must be plenty of fish, big ones and small ones. As a road player, I would usually take the boat out in the water and cast out the line. I would usually catch a small fish, and throw him back in the water, or let him win. This would show the big fish that eating the bait was not as fatal as it looked. The bigger fish would come biting on the line and it was my job to try and reel them in. Some took the bait quicker than others, and some put up a bigger fight than expected, but it was all another day at the office. I'm not saying that I came out of every battle unscathed, but I fared better than most. The life expectancy of a road player or money player who does not understand this concept is extremely short. By the time I was playing on the road and shuffling and hustling from one place to another, I understood the difference between being the fish and the fisherman. You could either be the guy filling the bucket, or you could be what was being tossed in the bucket. It's a classic example of the hunter and the hunted, with the roles reversing themselves at all points in between.

Earlier I explained that the suckers, or the smaller fish all aspire to be the Big Fish. This is what makes them suckers. Point blank, the Big Fish is probably the biggest sucker of them all. That's why they're the fish and you're not (I hope). The Big Fish in the little pond scenario is common in every pool hall I have ever been to. Trust me, the Big Fish usually has a Big Mouth as well. He usually can be overheard bragging about his past adventures. Just stay quiet and wait for him to bite the bait. The key to the whole approach is becoming a patient and quiet observer, as opposed to an aggressive, loud, reckless, opportunistic fool. My first road partner, Dexter Roberts, told me very early in my career that I need not worry about the guy with the big mouth. He told me to watch out for the quiet guy in the corner. Armed with this information, that is who I became, the quiet guy in the corner.

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About The Author: Blackjack David Sapolis played professional pool for 20 years in The United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia.

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