Hustling is the deceptive act of disguising one's skill in a sport
A Sport is all forms of physical activity which, through casual or organised participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical fitness and provide entertainment to participants. Sport may be competitive, where a winner or winners can be identified by objective means, and may require a degree...

 or game
A game is structured playing, usually undertaken for enjoyment and sometimes used as an educational tool. Games are distinct from work, which is usually carried out for remuneration, and from art, which is more often an expression of aesthetic or ideological elements...

 with the intent of luring someone of probably lesser skill into gambling
Gambling is the wagering of money or something of material value on an event with an uncertain outcome with the primary intent of winning additional money and/or material goods...

 (or gambling for higher than current stakes) with the hustler, as a form of confidence trick
Confidence trick
A confidence trick is an attempt to defraud a person or group by gaining their confidence. A confidence artist is an individual working alone or in concert with others who exploits characteristics of the human psyche such as dishonesty and honesty, vanity, compassion, credulity, irresponsibility,...

. It is most commonly associated with pool
Pocket billiards
Pool, also more formally known as pocket billiards or pool billiards , is the family of cue sports and games played on a pool table having six receptacles called pockets along the , into which balls are deposited as the main goal of play. Popular versions include eight-ball and nine-ball...

 (and to an extent other billiards-family games), but also can be performed with regard to other sports and gambling activities. Hustlers may also engage in "" – distracting, disheartening, enraging or even threatening their opponents, to throw them off. Hustlers are thus often called "pool sharks" (compare "card shark
Card sharp
A card sharp is a person who uses skill and deception to win at poker or other card games...

. Professional and semi-pro hustlers sometimes work with a "" — a person who provides the money for the hustler to bet with (and who may assist in the hustling) — in exchange for a substantial portion of all winnings. Another form of hustling (often engaged in by the same hustlers who use the skill-disguising technique) is challenging (swindle targets) to bet on trick shot
Trick shot
A trick shot is a shot played on a billiards table , which seems unlikely, impossible, or requires significant skill...

s that seem near-impossible but at which the hustler is exceptionally skilled.

Pool hustling techniques

Pool hustlers use deception
Deception, beguilement, deceit, bluff, mystification, bad faith, and subterfuge are acts to propagate beliefs that are not true, or not the whole truth . Deception can involve dissimulation, propaganda, and sleight of hand. It can employ distraction, camouflage or concealment...

 and misdirection
Misdirection is a form of deception in which the attention of an audience is focused on one thing in order to distract its attention from another....

 in order to win cash from inexperienced players (or skilled players inexperienced with the world of hustling). A skilled hustler:
  • Will usually play with a low-quality "house" cue stick
    Cue stick
    A cue stick , is an item of sporting equipment essential to the games of pool, snooker and carom billiards. It is used to strike a ball, usually the...

     provided by the pool hall, or an unadorned but high-quality personal cue that looks like one, known as a "" (or, with the nascence of local competitive league play in recent years, may play with a flashy-looking but evidently low-end personal cue, to give the impression that the hustler is a beginning league player)
  • Will typically play a game or two for "fun" or for low bets (a beer or equivalent amount of cash, for example) in order to check out the opponent and give the impression that money can easily be won, often losing on purpose (known as "" or "") – with the intent of winning a much larger wager later against a predictably overconfident opponent
  • Will pocket some difficult and impressive shots or make surprisingly secure safety shots (ones crucial for winning), while missing many simple ones, thus making early victories appear to be sheer luck
    Luck or fortuity is good fortune which occurs beyond one's control, without regard to one's will, intention, or desired result. There are at least two senses people usually mean when they use the term, the prescriptive sense and the descriptive sense...

     (a variant being the theatrical almost-making of shots that inexperienced players may think of as crucial mistakes, but which really give away very little advantage)
  • May pretend to be intoxicated, unintelligent, or otherwise impaired (that is, until it is time to run the table or make a game-winning shot)
  • When betting on trick shots, may intentionally miss the first or several times and lose a small amount, then raise the bet to an amount well beyond the loss and succeed at the well-practiced feat.

Many of these ploys can easily be mistaken for the honest faults of a less-than-exceptional player. The engendered doubt and uncertainty is what allows hustling to succeed, with the "faults" being dropped when a significant amount of money is at stake.

In popular culture

Pool hustling is the subject of films such as The Hustler
The Hustler (film)
The Hustler is a 1961 American drama film directed by Robert Rossen from the 1959 novel of the same name he and Sidney Carroll adapted for the screen...

(1961) and The Color of Money
The Color of Money
The Color of Money is a 1986 film directed by Martin Scorsese from a screenplay by Richard Price, based on the 1984 novel of the same name by Walter Tevis....

(1986) (both adapted from earlier novels, see "Books", below), among others (see "Films", below). It was also the principal subject of episodes of the television programs The Steve Harvey Show
The Steve Harvey Show
The Steve Harvey Show is an American sitcom that aired for six seasons from August 25, 1996 to February 17, 2002 on The WB Television Network. It was created by Winifred Hervey and directed by Stan Lathan.-Synopsis:...

, The Dick Van Dyke Show
The Dick Van Dyke Show
The Dick Van Dyke Show is an American television sitcom that initially aired on the Columbia Broadcasting System from October 3, 1961, until June 1, 1966. The show was created by Carl Reiner and starred Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore. It was produced by Reiner with Bill Persky and Sam Denoff....

, the Drake and Josh episode "Pool Shark" (Season 2, Episode 5), and the The Fresh Prince of Bel Air episode "Banks Shot".

Notable real-life hustlers

  • Rudolf "Minnesota Fats" Wanderone, famous hustler and entertainer
  • Chef Anton
    Chef Anton
    Chef Anton is the stage name of Anthony S. Riniti , a trained chef from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. He is an award-winning expert with the pool cue, and a noted magician whose performance includes a unique mixture of magic, hustling tricks and billiard trick shots...

    , trick shot artist and author of several hustling manuals
  • Keith McCready
    Keith McCready
    Keith McCready is an American professional pool player, nicknamed Earthquake.At one time considered among the top players in America, McCready has been a traveling tournament competitor and notorious hustler since the 1970s...

    , a legendary road player
  • Billy "Cornbread Red" Burge
    Billy Burge
    Cornbread Red, born Billy Burge , was an American pool player. Inducted into the One-pocket Hall of Fame in 2004 and Legends of Bank Pool in 2005, Cornbread Red is revered as one of the most talented and entertaining characters in the history of American pool.-Professional Days:Red was born in...

    , another legendary player, from Detroit
  • Danny "Kid Delicious" Basavich
    Danny Basavich
    Daniel Basavich is an American professional pool player from New Jersey. He is fondly called "Kid Delicious", a nickname he acquired after defeating a player monickered "Kid Vicious"....

    , former hustler turned top-ranking professional
  • Alvin Clarence "Titanic Thompson" Thomas
    Titanic Thompson
    Alvin Clarence Thomas  was an American gambler, golfer and hustler better known as Titanic Thompson. He traveled the country wagering at cards, dice games, golf, horseshoes and "proposition bets" of his own devising...

    , a gambler, golfer and hustler, from Arkansas

Notable books about and/or by hustlers

  • The Hustler
    The Hustler
    The Hustler is a 1959 novel by American writer Walter Tevis. It tells the story of a young pool hustler, Edward "Fast Eddie" Felson, who challenges the legendary Minnesota Fats .The Hustler was adapted into a 1961 film of the same title, starring Paul...

    (1959), a novel by Walter Tevis
    Walter Tevis
    Walter Stone Tevis was an American novelist and short story writer. Three of his six novels were adapted into major films: The Hustler, The Color of Money and The Man Who Fell to Earth...

    , ISBN 0-380008-60-2, ISBN 1-568490-44-5, ISBN 1-560254-73-4
  • The Color of Money
    The Color of Money
    The Color of Money is a 1986 film directed by Martin Scorsese from a screenplay by Richard Price, based on the 1984 novel of the same name by Walter Tevis....

    (1984), the sequel by Walter Tevis, ISBN 0-446323-53-5, ISBN 0-44634-419-2, ISBN 0-349101-50-7, ISBN 1-568496-89-3, ISBN 1-560254-85-8
  • McGoorty: A Billiard Hustler's Life, also published as McGoorty: A Pool Room Hustler (1984/2003), nonfiction by Robert Byrne
    Robert Byrne (author)
    Robert Byrne is an American author and Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame instructor of pool and carom billiards.- Early life and education :...

     and Danny McGoorty, ISBN 0-806509-25-2; ISBN 1-894963-12-1, ISBN 0-767916-31-X
  • Playing off the Rail: A Pool Hustler's Journey (1996), nonfiction by David McCumber, ISBN 0-679423-74-5, ISBN 0-517307-10-3, ISBN 0-380-72923-7
  • Hustler Days: Minnesota Fats, Wimpy Lassiter, Jersey Red, and America's Great Age of Pool (2003), nonfiction by R.A. Dyer, ISBN 1-592281-04-4, ISBN 1-592286-46-1
  • Billy Phelan's Greatest Game (1978), a novel by William J. Kennedy, ISBN 0-670166-67-7, ISBN 0-140063-40-4 (audio-book: ISBN 1-578151-87-2)
  • Cornbread Red: Pool's Greatest Money Player (1995), nonfiction by Bob Henning, ISBN 1-887956-34-4
  • Confessions of a Pool Hustler (2010) Robert "Cotton" LeBlanc

Notable films about hustlers and hustling

  • The Hustler
    The Hustler (film)
    The Hustler is a 1961 American drama film directed by Robert Rossen from the 1959 novel of the same name he and Sidney Carroll adapted for the screen...

  • The Color of Money
    The Color of Money
    The Color of Money is a 1986 film directed by Martin Scorsese from a screenplay by Richard Price, based on the 1984 novel of the same name by Walter Tevis....

  • Stick Men (2001)
  • Poolhall Junkies
    Poolhall Junkies
    Poolhall Junkies is a 2002 drama/thriller film written, starring and directed by Mars Callahan. The film also stars Alison Eastwood, Michael Rosenbaum, Rick Schroder with Chazz Palminteri and Christopher Walken...

  • Shooting Gallery
    Shooting Gallery (film)
    Shooting Gallery is a 2005 film directed by Keoni Waxman starring Freddie Prinze, Jr.. The plot consists of a young hustler who meets his match in a veteran pool player and small-time gangster ....

  • Turn the River
    Turn the River
    Turn the River is a film that was written and directed by Chris Eigeman. The film debuted at the Hamptons International Film Festival on October 17, 2007.-Cast:*Famke Janssen as Kailey Sullivan*Jaymie Dornan as Gulley*Rip Torn as Teddy Quinette...

    (2007; unusual in that it features a woman hustler)

In a similar vein, but about other sports:
  • White Men Can't Jump
    White Men Can't Jump
    White Men Can't Jump is a 1992 American sports comedy drama film starring Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes as streetball hustlers, co-starring Rosie Perez...

    (1992) – about basketball
    Basketball is a team sport in which two teams of five players try to score points by throwing or "shooting" a ball through the top of a basketball hoop while following a set of rules...

  • Kingpin
    Kingpin (film)
    Kingpin is a 1996 slapstick comedy film directed by the Farrelly brothers and starring Woody Harrelson, Randy Quaid, Vanessa Angel, and Bill Murray...

    (1996) – comedy about a bowling
    Ten-pin bowling
    Ten-pin bowling is a competitive sport in which a player rolls a bowling ball down a wooden or synthetic lane with the objective of scoring points by knocking down as many pins as possible.-Summary:The lane is bordered along its length by semicylindrical channels Ten-pin bowling (commonly just...

  • Duets
    An original motion picture soundtrack CD was released on September 12, 2000 by Hollywood Records. The CD contained twelve tracks including the original music composed for the film by David Newman....

    (2000) – features a karaoke
    is a form of interactive entertainment or video game in which amateur singers sing along with recorded music using a microphone and public address system. The music is typically a well-known pop song minus the lead vocal. Lyrics are usually displayed on a video screen, along with a moving symbol,...

     bar hustler
  • Striker
    Striker (film)
    The soundtrack album of Striker consists of 8 songs composed by various artists such as Vishal Bhardwaj, noted Tamil composer Yuvan Shankar Raja in his Bollywood debut, Amit Trivedi, rapper Blaaze, Shailendra Barve and lyricist-singer Swanand Kirkire, whilst lyrics are penned by Nitin Raikwar,...

    (2010) Hindi "Bollywood" drama about hustling in the billiards-related table game carrom
    Carrom is a family of tabletop games with gameplay that lies somewhere between billiards and table shuffleboard. Carrom is known by many names around the world, including carrum, couronne, carum, karam, karom, karum, fatta and finger billiards...

Notable fictional hustlers

  • "Minnesota Fats" in The Hustler (played by Jackie Gleason
    Jackie Gleason
    Jackie Gleason was an American comedian, actor and musician. He was known for his brash visual and verbal comedy style, especially by his character Ralph Kramden on The Honeymooners, a situation-comedy television series. His most noted film roles were as Minnesota Fats in the drama film The...

     in the film version) – the smooth character whose moniker Wanderone (above) lifted after publication of Tevis's novel
  • "Edward 'Fast Eddie' Felson" in The Hustler and The Color of Money (played by Paul Newman
    Paul Newman
    Paul Leonard Newman was an American actor, film director, entrepreneur, humanitarian, professional racing driver and auto racing enthusiast...

     in the film version)
  • "Vincent (Vince) Lauria" in The Color of Money (played by Tom Cruise
    Tom Cruise
    Thomas Cruise Mapother IV , better known as Tom Cruise, is an American film actor and producer. He has been nominated for three Academy Awards and he has won three Golden Globe Awards....

     in the film version)
  • "Grady Seasons", said to be "the best money player in the world", in The Color of Money (played by McCready (above) in the film version)
  • "Johnny Doyle" (played by Mars Callahan
    Mars Callahan
    Mars Callahan is an American actor, director, producer and writer.He is known, among other things, for the movie Poolhall Junkies where he served as director, actor and screenwriter....

    ) and "Brad" (played by Ricky Schroder) in Poolhall Junkies.
  • "'Cue Ball' Carl" (played by Ving Rhames
    Ving Rhames
    Irving Rameses "Ving" Rhames is an American actor best known for his work in Bringing Out the Dead, Pulp Fiction, Baby Boy, Don King: Only in America, and the Mission: Impossible film series.-Early life and education:...

    ) and "Jericho Hudson" (played by Freddie Prinze, Jr.
    Freddie Prinze, Jr.
    Freddie James Prinze, Jr. is an American actor. He rose to fame during the late 1990s and early 2000s, after starring in several Hollywood films aimed at teenage audiences, I Know What You Did Last Summer and its sequel, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer , as well as She's All That , Summer...

    ) in Shooting Gallery
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