Sharks and Sharking

For those of you who are not familiar with these pool terms here is what they mean.

Shark- a person (usually a better player) who lies in wait for a game they know they will win, unlike a hustler who will underplay his skill to get you to play. A shark is a predator and at no time does he/she play the victim. A hustler lets you think you are the shark.  In short the difference between the two is that you choose the hustler, but the shark chooses you.

Sharking- distracting your opponent or doing something to intentionally hurt their chances of winning that would be considered immoral, unethical or out right against the rules. There are a million different sharking techniques, some of which I will list on here later.

For the purpose of this post it is important that you know the difference, today I am mainly talking about Sharking techniques and how to deal with them, not how to deal with pool sharks. (we can discuss that later!)

It strikes me odd that it is called “sharking”.  Because when a shark does his thing he isn’t necessarily “sharking” someone, and someone who is sharking isn’t necessarily a shark!  Recently on a forum I frequent they were talking about whether or not a person was being sharked by this other players actions.  I noticed right away by the peoples response who would be easy to shark and who wouldn’t.  Not that I condone it, in fact I used to really let it bother me that people felt they had to do it against me.




So, what do you do if you are being sharked by someone? Get mad? Most do, and end up losing because of it. I have found that the best defense against someone’s sharking tactics is a good sense of humor. I recently played a guy in league that was making blatant sharking moves against me. He would pick up the chalk off the table after he missed and take it with him to his seat (it was not his), he would move all of my stuff on the table while I was shooting, he constantly coughed while I pulled the trigger on almost every shot, he would jingle his quarters when I was shooting the money ball and he made sure he was in my line of sight on almost every shot!

Normally this would have pissed me off, but it was so obvious that it cracked me up. And whats more is that this guy was one of  if  not the best player in the league. So it occurred to me that I must be making him sweat and he feels that he needs to get a edge to beat me. Then something happened that made me take notice. I realized that once he noticed that his sharking moves were not working on me he got worried, his focus was gone and his confidence shriveled.  In a sense, he sharked himself!


Right then and there I learned that the best way to deal with this type of behavior is to realize that it’s a weakness on their part. They feel they need to do it to win, and when it doesn’t work they fall apart. Look at it this way, if they feel that they need to shark you then that means that they think you are better then they are.  It’s a compliment in a weird twisted sort of way! So laugh it off, keep you’re sense of humor and watch them squirm!


Here are some sharking tactics I have seen over the years, what are some that you have came across?


–The classic unscrewing of the cue as you shoot the money ball.

–Jingling pocket change as you shoot.

–Talking to you during you’re stroke (not always a shark but some do this on purpose)

–Excessive slow play.

–Farting! Yep, I played a guy once that seemed to fart every time he missed, I learned to take my time before approaching the table!

–Moistening the chalk to cause a miscue.

–Cleavage! Several women I know have been guilty of this one!

–Intimidation or trying to bully someone. I haven’t had this one tried on me since I was a kid, I’m 6’2″ now and about 220 lbs!

Those are just a few, there is literally no limit to what some people will do to shark you. Just roll with the punches and take it all in stride and remember, it’s their weakness, don’t let it become yours.



6 responses to “Sharks and Sharking

  1. Thanks for sharing your blog with me today. I’m certain they were sharking because they were insecure. But they did use many tactics; Intimidation (I’m 5’3 and 120#s), distraction by chatting, intervening with your line of sight, putting drinks down on the table (on the called pocket) when your going shoot, pick up the chalk, put down the chalk. Asking over and over what your next shot is after you call the ball and pocket. At first I thought it was silly, then it bothered me, then called them out and asked him to move to the other side of the table. I don’t like to miss my 8 ball. And I didn’t 🙂

  2. Do you think sharking requires the victim to consciously realize something else is going on or can it be more subtle? I remember in college a buddy stood behind the pocket I was shooting at and wiggled his stick. I didn’t consciously notice but I missed the shot. The reason I remember 18 years later is that he did a little dance and sang “I sharked youuuuu” after I missed.

    • No, Sometimes people do it without even realizing it. It’s not always consciously or intentional and it’s up to the individual to figure out if the offender is trying to purposefully and negatively effect your game.

      Respect, integrity and good sportsmanship, that’s the real issue here. Some have, some don’t and some never will.

      • What I meant was, can sharking affect a person even if he doesn’t consciously realize it’s happening? My friend absolutely knew what he was doing but I didn’t notice it. Because I missed the shot, he assumed it was because of his sharking.

      • Yes, I think on a sub conscious level it can have and effect on you but probably to a lesser degree. Also it’s possible that you just missed the shot because your aim was off or a glitch in your stroke or whatever. Whats more important is what you think. If you think it had an effect on you than it did. I wouldn’t let it worry you too much though, odds are it was just a coincidence.

        Here is a way for you to get a little friendly revenge. The next time you are playing him wait until it’s his turn and he gets down on the shot. Before he shoots ask him “I was wondering, do you breath in and hold your breath or do you let it out when you hit the ball?” Then don’t say anything else to him, just let it simmer for awhile. If he is like a friend of mine he will start focusing on that and wont be paying attention to other things that matter, like leave or what ball he is supposed to be shooting at next, or who stole his beer!

        I don’t advocate sharking but since you guys are friends I figure a little turn about is fair play. Let me know how it turns out.

  3. Gonna be hard to do anything to him, seeing as how we haven’t spoken in 15 years. 🙂 (Not bad blood or anything, just graduated and went our own ways.)

    Since I started playing again last year with a more deliberate approach, I realize that a lot of shots I miss (then and now) are simply not-easy shots. So yeah, it was as much coincidence as anything.

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