The Pool Game
In Pop’s pool hall there were ten regulation-sized tables and two regulation sized snooker tables. At first I would shoot a couple of games on the regular tables, but one day Pop told me if I really wanted to learn pool to start shooting snooker. For the people who don’t know what snooker is here’s the wiki explanation - Snooker. To say the least it is much harder than regular pool, eight ball or nine ball. With the little bit of money I had and every second I could spare I would spend trying to get better at Snooker. Well surprising even to me I did get fairly good at it and Pop was always there to show you how to shoot even better.
I had a friend named Rodney that I used to shoot Snooker against all the time and we were both evenly matched. One Saturday night Rodney and I decided to go to the state line. Back then drinking age in Mississippi was 18. I was 17, but the bar across the state line never check ID’s, so we went there to have some beers and shoot some pool. While we were shooting two guys who looked to be in their late 30’s came up and wanted to know if we’d like to shoot a doubles eight ball game against them. We said sure and they wanted to play for $5.00 a game. Now I’ve never been a gambler and I figured if we lost more than two games against them, I would quit. We started playing and Rodney and I tore the table up against them. Now I’d already seen many people hustled at Pop’s place and knew what to look for. After five games we had them up to $25 and then they said the next game for double or nothing. I thought OK here it comes. We tore them up on that game too. I came to realize, these guys really weren’t worth a damn at pool and they were getting pretty drunk too. I start to get nervous and tell Rodney we need to leave so he tells them we had to go and to pay up. They tell us we’re not leaving the place until they win their money back. Obviously by this time I’m really nervous. I get Rodney over to a corner and tell him lets just lose the game and get the heck out of there. So we shot the game and I’ll tell you it was almost hard to lose to these guys. They were so drunk and bad at pool that an eight-year-old could have beat them. They did have one thing going for them though. They were big, drunk and intimidating as hell. The game was finally over and we had lost to them and no one owed anyone any money. So we tell them again we’re going to leave. They tell us no we weren’t because we had won their money and now they were going to win some of our money. Needless to say I didn’t tell them that we’d just given their money back by purposely shooting the worse games we could and no money had ever changed hands. But I didn’t because there’s nothing worse than insulting a mean drunk with a pool cue in his hand. So I tell them OK and then I tell Rodney come on and lets get a beer. We both walk into where the bar is and I explain to the bartender what’s happening. He starts giggling and says, “You boys go ahead and git out of here, and I’ll make sure they stay back there”. As we were going out the door I could hear the bartender going into a full belly laugh. Rodney and I jump into his car and high tail it back across the state line and I never went back to that place.
I learned some things that night.
1. I’m not a gambler
2. If you do gamble have the money on the table before the game begins.
3. And finally, don’t go into a redneck bar and start beating the regulars so bad it’s embarrassing.
I’ve never lost my love for pool, but I haven’t shot in years. I always thought that if I ever had the house I want, it would have a game room with a regulation pool table and a regulation Snooker table and the only money that would be played for is monopoly money.