Gone Fishin'

Written by David Sapolis

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Stiffs, Sharks, & Crybabies

I elaborated on stiffs earlier. I hate a stiff. A stiff is worse than the Vermin and the Pond Scum. A stiff is the perfect example of a person who should not have been playing for money in the first place. Why? Because to place a bet, one should at least have the cash to back up that bet. Years back, if a guy didn't have the cash, a MARKER was made by the guy whom the cash was owed. A marker was a slip of paper, kind of like an IOU. If the stiff owed $300, and I saw him winning cash, the marker gave me rights to anything that guy won. It also meant that he couldn't play me again until the original debt was paid in full. Most guys would beg borrow and steal to avoid having a marker in existence. This practice seems to have died with the dinosaurs, but I still believe that it was a fair policy. These days, guys want to "play down" their debt. My personal policy is this: You bet it, you lost it, you pay it, then we'll talk. When I get stiffed, or if I have trouble collecting, you can bet that I'll spread the good word around. The rule to follow here, is don't bet money that you don't have. On the flip side, if you want to avoid being stiffed, follow these rules:

a) If you're playing $5 a rack, collect or pay every rack. No exceptions.

b) If you're playing sets, collect or pay at the end of every set. No exceptions.

c) If you're playing with more than one money ball, collect immediately upon sinking any money ball. No exceptions.

d) Never change the rules or change the outline of the bet after the playing starts. Some guys will try to do this, and they're good at it. Stick to what was agreed upon. No exceptions.

How did I come up with these rules? The hard way. Let me tell you a story of a young, stupid, less-intelligent Blackjack who wandered into a billiard establishment in lovely Passaic, New Jersey. I got into a game of Chicago (a form of rotation) with a young local hot shot known as Chinese Charlie. Charlie was a fast talker and a good player. We agreed on five money balls in the rack. Trouble was, Charlie kept changing the money balls so fast and so frequently, that I didn't which balls were worth something, and which ones weren't. Before I knew it, I was in the hole for about $250. Now, you have to understand. I was Blackjack David Sapolis. Conqueror of the pool world. Ego as big as all outdoors. A seasoned road player. A touring professional. If I was going down, it sure wasn't going to be at the hands of a guy called Chinese Charlie. So about an hour later, I'm up a couple of hundred and Charlie decides he wants to play some nine ball. I ask Charlie to at least pay up what he owed me and then I would play some nine ball. So he hands it over. Two hours later, I'm up another $400. Charlie calls off, and says he has to get the money for me. He ain't got it on him. His friend offers to play me until Charlie returns. Charlie, in a good faith gesture, leaves behind his cue and case, which his friend shot with. It's about 9 PM, I figure he'll be back soon enough so I start rattling off a few racks on his buddy. Eleven o'clock. No Charlie. Twelve-thirty. No Charlie. One-Thirty. I turn to his friend and ask, "Where's my fucking money?" He gives me a stupid look and says, "I don't know. It don't look like he's coming back." No shit. Two o'clock, I ask for the cue. He doesn't want to give it to me. He says that the cue belongs to him and that he paid me my cash. He had a point, but it didn't change the fact that his buddy still owed me four-hundred bucks. I was either taking the cue, or I was going to get my four-hundred bucks. I got the cue. When I went out to my car, I noticed that it was much shorter than I remembered it. That little bastard slashed my tires. To make along story short, I never got my money. I don't remember what happened to the cue. I always look back on that night as a hard lesson that taught me to ask for the money immediately. NO EXCEPTIONS. I don't care how nice they are, how causal they are with you, NO EXCEPTIONS. The nicer somebody is, the easier it will be for him to screw you. All you have to do is let your guard down. I should have never let that little bastard leave the pool hall. I know that now. That wasn't the only time I was stiffed, but I was stiffed by a guy named Chinese Charlie. How bad does that sound?

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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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