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04-05-2002, 04:04 AM
For the last few months, I've noticed something very strange happening. Fairly low-ranked players are having the games of their lives against me, and I'm trying to figure out why this is so.

When I ask, many of them tell me, "Well, against stronger players, my game goes up a few notches." The problem with this is they definitely do not play well against Ginky or Mika. So, to me, this fact invalidates their reasoning.

I'm coming up with two possibilities. The first is that, since I don't play as well as the aforementioned pros, the lower players find me good enough that they really bear down, but not so good that they know it's completely hopeless. I don't think this can be it though, since both the pros and I are supposed to beat these players by lopsided scores. Sure, with me, there'll be a few more innings and a few more safes, but the score should still be 11-2 or 11-3.

The second, and I think the more probable, is that my table demeanor is simply not intimidating. I try to be as courteous as possible, never really saying a word to my opponent except "nice shot" or "push". There's no sighing loudly if I break and come up empty, or screaming if I miss a shot, or running to the table like a raving lunatic the second my opponent misses. There's no "can't believe how easy I left this table" or ramming my cue into the floor after a miss. And I guess what I'm wondering is... should there be? Should at least some of these things, none of which are fouls, be incorporated into one's game in order to unnerve opponents?

I know what the moral answer is ("no"), and I know that I will never be able to do any of these things. But I want to know what you guys think the real-life answer is. Would appreciate any thoughts on this.

Thanks,
Steve

04-05-2002, 04:57 AM
the lesser player may want the win more than you - your motivation?

supposed to win by a big score? - expectations?

Don't be concerned if you're intimidating or not - let your opponent make that decision

imo you're not in the here and now ... and not enjoying your innings at the table.

I would suggest to start focusing on how well I'm performing each and every shot,no matter how ez or hard the shot may have been.Personally challenging yourself usually helps the real competitive player.Just my opinion.BS

CarolNYC
04-05-2002, 05:57 AM
Hey Steve,
No, none of those things should be incorporated into your game-the fact that they have boosted their game 100% against you shows you are intimidating-as for Mika and Ginky, I believe it is their FAME that intimidates people!I have never experienced the so called "jitters" against an opponent except Tony Robles-ask me why-who knows-I just cant play against him-and I've had girls kick my butt,unbelievably, and then I watch their next match and their missing dead shots!All I know is if I had to play you, you bet your a** I'd be saying "dont miss!":)
Carol

Rich R.
04-05-2002, 06:09 AM
Steve, I don't think you want to, or need to, pick up any bad habits, just to intimidate your opponents. You are acting just fine.
I think the problem may be in your mental game. As your opponent picks up his game a notch, because he feels a win against you is within his grasp, you may be unconsciously dropping your game a notch, because you know you should be able to win easily. Although I don't play on your level, I have done this myself when playing some one I should beat easily. I find myself making mistakes and lowering my game to their level.
I'm not sure of the solution, other than play everyone the way you would play Efren Reyes. I just wish I new how to accomplish that. Rich R.

Voodoo Daddy
04-05-2002, 06:19 AM
Intimidation...maybe the one thing I really know about. I have gotten through most of my life thanks to it. Table presence has alot to do with intimidation as well. A certain walk, the ability to to avoid rattling and the ultimate tool..."The Glare". Words like "nice shot or good out" do not misrepresent kindness for a weakness. You should be able to step it up a notch againest the lesser player with your experience. I know the "weaker player" syndrome oh too well...lol!! Every railtester gives me their best but my years at the table enables to overcome them. Steve, I know from good sources your game is very solid...question is do you believe in your game?

Voodoo...believe's Steve could be a diamond in the rough

04-05-2002, 07:25 AM
The only things I do is if I am playing a player who likes to play fast I play a bit slower. Let him itch in his chair and then let him sweat after I run the rack out ever so slowly. If I am playing a slow player I play a lot more deliberate safeties. Give them a reason to play slowly. No sharking just good old mental warfare.

Chris Cass
04-05-2002, 07:38 AM
Hi Steve,
Don't stop being an adult, when at the tables. When you play these guys, it sounds to me you slack off. Next time your playing them. Ask yourself this question. What makes me better than these guys? The answer is within you.

Itimidation is done in many ways. You can intimidate an opponent without saying anything. You can smoke the 9 on the last shot. You can glare with confidence. They can see this in your eyes easily. You can lock them up then, take your ball in hand and instead of running out lock them up again till, it drives them nuts. Don't give them a shot. Take ball in hand, run the ob to a 9 ball combo and leave them safe. Then, shoot it. Before you know it your, making them feel their, not in your league and give up mentally.

The other thing you can do is give them a spot. There's no way you'll sit there and let them think, they pounce all over you then. You'll bare down and show them what level of play their really dealing with.

The difference between you and them is, your ability to place whitey where you want, and run out when you have to. Your evaluation of a table and how to quickly get and stay in control of the game. Sure they can run balls but mentally, is where the separation begins. Your mentally stronger and that's what it's all about. Just because you out skill someone doesn't mean you have to go for the run every time. Sometimes it's better to insure the out by showing control. We'll talk more in Vegas, this May.

JMHO,
C.C.
PS: still think your slacking. Only say good shot if it's something that isn't easy for you.

04-05-2002, 08:59 AM
Steve, I'm no Mika or Ginky, in fact I might be a player you would handle easily. However, my personal opinion/experience is that the more attitude/intimidation my opponent displays, the more I really focus because I want to knock them down a notch or two. I guess it's the old "let a sleeping dog lie" theory. Why try to shark/intimidate someone and risk getting the extra motivated to beat you. I don't know, maybe I'm not the norm, but that kind of behavior only fires me up then you'll have your hands full.

There aren't enough classy players the way it is....so don't change how you are.

04-05-2002, 09:58 AM
Real life huh,,,well I'll relate pool to the dating game especially focusing on the male dominators vs the lonely guys. The old saying, "Nice guys finish last" sadly enough is true(IMO) and I'll make examples from "real life." I am what I call a "nice guy" and even though some of you out there may get pointed over the statement, I attribute my lack luster success with the ladies directly to that fact. I once hit an a$$hole frame of mind for a short stretch while in my twenties and decided to "use" women as I'd seen the more successful males do over the years, and it worked. It wasn't long before I became sick of who I was seeingi in the mirror in the mornings and I quit that personality, BUT the scoreboard was much more in my favor than at any time before or since that attitude which I chose to produce.

Now to pool, I lose against players I've known for years who are players without a clue to position and speed of equipment and many of these people are just as you stated, irritating, bullish, irrate...you name it, just plain a$$holes on table courtesy. Again I hit a stretch in my pool career a few years back where I decided that I was personally done with the rules bending against me in a league I was playing in, the start times seemed to always stifle my team(me the captain), subs were allowed which were not really legal and yet that was never my priveledge...I could go on and on but the point is that this particular night I went into the match against a nice enough team and said "Damn it the rules say we DO NOT have to wait for your players, and we ARE going to start!" all said with an internal glare of "beat-em" determination without any ingredients of courtesy(a$$hole.) That night I shot a perfect score, each step of "my game" was aggrivating and unfriendly and I won.

Afterwards on my way home it sunk in...I had taken myself down to a level I didn't like. I immediately went to my pc when I got home and typed out an apology letter for my attitude, forwarded it via the league director to the opposing team captain and I re-didicated myself to never make myself that "out of nature" again. Still I'll admit that the system worked, whether or not you can live with yourself is the key. I imagine that's why you hear that many, many of the greats in pool were a$$holes...sid~~~just my 2c

Tom_In_Cincy
04-05-2002, 10:12 AM
Any thing you do to disrupt your opponent's play is considered a "shark".

True intimidation comes from performance, not what you say.

If you are unable to play you game against lessor skilled opponents, you are the one that is intimidated.

Sounds to me that you just can't accept the fact that players you think aren't as good as you are, can have a good day. Even Corey couldn't believe that Mika didn't win a single game against him in the 2001 US Open finals. 11-0 and Mika's Accustat numbers were around .580.. while Corey's were .9xx These things happen. Accept it and get on with your game. You are a better player at the table, just sounds like you might be needing a mental lesson on Acceptance. Its always easier to loose in the chair than at the table.

PoolFan
04-05-2002, 10:18 AM
First, if you truly believe that you should beat these people 11-2, 11-3 then you believe it because you know you're a better player. Better shot-maker, better safety player. You are right, these people step up their game to play you. I also believe that it's human nature to play down to your opponent. I believe this is probably your problem.

Second, if you add these features to your game, I believe you will only hurt yourself in the long run. These bad habits can work against you when you are playing a better player.

It's human nature to focus on the negatives and that feeds itself. These actions you brought up focus on the negative like screaming that you missed a shot or making comments like "I left him a cosmo". This will only add to your frustrations and worst you may start doing it when you are playing the likes of Mika and Ginky.

Continue focusing on the postives. Bear down when you are playing a lesser player as if you're playing a better player. Intimidate your opponent by playing 8 or 9 games better then they are.

04-05-2002, 10:26 AM
hi Steve,
I 'm not gonna try to diagnose the problem by long distance. My opinion, when I play people I should be beating, is that I need to be more focused than usual. I think it's a matter of momentum and the last thing you want is for the other guy to get some confidence against you. I think you have to come out firing and dominate in the first or second rack. If the weaker player wins a couple, he might start to think that a win is possible.
I don't know if this is the situation, but I hope it helps.

Eric

04-05-2002, 10:33 AM
Steve:

I've played 'serious' pool for nearly a year but played 'frivolous' bar pool off and on for about 25 years. In the pool hall and the bar also, my experience jibes with yours in that, I've watched weaker players (who I should beat) raise their game a notch or two to beat me and then drop a notch or two and lose to a player I could beat on most days. I've also intimidated and beaten much stronger players for whatever reason. I tend to beat stronger players (mostly with weight) although I am capable of loosing to weaker players (with or without weight). It does seem like weaker players consistently raise their game against me. I've watched players who normally can't make more than a few balls an inning nearly run out game after game when playing me. Most who know me would consider me a nice person, considerate, generous and tolerant.

Boy does it piss me off to loose to weaker players! Often, when I win, it's because my opponent manages to bring the match to a tie-breaker. Then they begin to suffer the pressure. Before then, however, they look like -- well, they don't look like world beaters but they do look like they can kick my butt! They appear to feel no pressure and look confident.

Nice 'guyness' is a problem, in my opinion. I've watched players for whom winning is the most important thing get by and get over their opponent without the use of sharking techniques. It's the intensity they bring to bear on their effort to win the game and match that's decisive, as I see it. It's decisive because it's intimidating. For some, intensity may be too mild a word. Ferocity might be the better word to use. There are individuals who look for a stick when they see a dangerous, mean animal, but most run for cover. Some players are good players and are wolverines. Others are just as good but are decent, considerate persons. Of the two, who do you think will win games and matches because their opponents are too busy running for safety rather than playing their best game?

I'd rather play well and loose to a stronger player than play poorly and win because of dumb luck. I take no great pleasure when pummeling weaker players than I. I know individuals who will do a Church Lady Dance even when they eke out a cheap win because of luck. As a group, they tend to hate their opponents. They hate them even when they have never actually met them! I don't hate my opponents (unless I find them hateful in any case). I don't like loosing but I don't have to win. This provides an advantage to some players. I suppose I am a nice person, as people have told me over the years, and it does seem like this good quality enables some pool players to win games and matches they might not have won against another player of equal ability. I think that I'm coming out better in the long run. Still, it really does piss me off when I loose to a weaker player!

Steve Z

04-05-2002, 10:43 AM
Hi Steve,

I think that the deadliest combination to face in an opponent is one who's playing well with enthusiasm. Enjoying what you are doing gives you presence at the table. Combine that with skill and talent and you're a winner.

You've got the skill and the talent. Work on the enjoyment part and those players will fall apart against you.

See, when you're not having a good time, regardless of how well you're playing, your presence reflects that, and your opponent senses that you are liable to miss at any time and so they keep grinding away.

As for using intimidation to try to win...I've always found that people who resort to ugly antics have "issues" with themselves. It'll work to a degree and make the experience unpleasant for both players, but that's not the strongest combination. It's not that hard to poke holes in a player who's trying to win by intimidation. IMO, that's not the way to go.

Fran

SpiderMan
04-05-2002, 10:44 AM
There are several possibilities, one of which is that these players are actually getting better at competing with you. If it happens regularly (not a fluke), accept it and feel good for them.

Another possibility is that you may not be concentrating as well when you believe you're going to win regardless. And while you may indeed win, you will still win by less margin when you don't concentrate. If this is the case, you'll have to deal with it yourself. Either force yourself into a mental routine that allows you to beat them badly, or consider offering them a spot which makes you really work just to win.

But in no case should you blame it on a lack of your willingness to be a jerk and shark them. If sharking allowed you to beat them 9-3 instead of 9-6, that just means that 9-6 is where they really stand against you.

SpiderMan

<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: Steve_Lipsky:</font><hr> For the last few months, I've noticed something very strange happening. Fairly low-ranked players are having the games of their lives against me, and I'm trying to figure out why this is so.

When I ask, many of them tell me, "Well, against stronger players, my game goes up a few notches." The problem with this is they definitely do not play well against Ginky or Mika. So, to me, this fact invalidates their reasoning.

I'm coming up with two possibilities. The first is that, since I don't play as well as the aforementioned pros, the lower players find me good enough that they really bear down, but not so good that they know it's completely hopeless. I don't think this can be it though, since both the pros and I are supposed to beat these players by lopsided scores. Sure, with me, there'll be a few more innings and a few more safes, but the score should still be 11-2 or 11-3.

The second, and I think the more probable, is that my table demeanor is simply not intimidating. I try to be as courteous as possible, never really saying a word to my opponent except "nice shot" or "push". There's no sighing loudly if I break and come up empty, or screaming if I miss a shot, or running to the table like a raving lunatic the second my opponent misses. There's no "can't believe how easy I left this table" or ramming my cue into the floor after a miss. And I guess what I'm wondering is... should there be? Should at least some of these things, none of which are fouls, be incorporated into one's game in order to unnerve opponents?

I know what the moral answer is ("no"), and I know that I will never be able to do any of these things. But I want to know what you guys think the real-life answer is. Would appreciate any thoughts on this.

Thanks,
Steve <hr></blockquote>

Rod
04-05-2002, 10:46 AM
Steve, my crystal ball is hazy, just kidding. lol
What are you doing different? You mention them being lower rated players, and I wonder if you may be taking them on the light side! Do you play them the same intensity as you would Ginky, etc?

stickman
04-05-2002, 11:15 AM
As a lower level player, I can tell you that it's not at all uncommon for my game to improve significantly when playing a better player. If I'm very familiar with my opponent, I'm more comfortable. When I'm comfortable, I shoot more relaxed, and play better pool. There is nothing more rewarding to a lower level player than to beat someone that you know is a much higher level player than you. This gives you the motavation to stay focused and makes the game FUN, especially, if you are having a good game. There is a good possibility that the intimidation would work, but like you said, who wants to represent themselves this way?

My APA league play sucks. Whether it is my unfamiliarity with my opponents or my fear of letting my teamates down, I'm not sure. I suspect the latter. Anyway, my comfort level is low, and I play horribly. So I would guess that upsetting someone's comfort level would undoubtedly affect their game.

PQQLK9
04-05-2002, 11:15 AM
The "best" player/team does not always win...It's the player/team that plays the "best"...(the last super bowl)...sometimes we play not to win but not to lose...

Nostroke
04-05-2002, 11:43 AM
Quit over analyzing. You never did these things before when these players were not having the games of their lives so why would they be a factor now?

Besides did any of these lame things ever intimidate you?

Ever hear the one about the infinite number of monkeys at typewriters turning out the best books? Well you dont need an infinite number of monkeys to beat a better player at nine ball. All you have to do is play a little bit, which you do, and eventually a few monkeys in a row will beat you.

Another factor of course is that when WE have the games of our lives, its usually taken in stride and there are no searches for answers and its quickly forgotten.

04-05-2002, 01:05 PM
Steve...What I read from most everyone is a solution from losing and not what you seemed to be asking,,,"Whether those non-nice guy" tactics give increased success rates over honest types. You probably already read my lengthy analogy in favor of a "yes" vote, even though I was judgemental(at a minimum.) Intimidation has been, is and always will be an asset for many less than good players and that's fine by me 'cause I'll just steer clear of playing them.

"Should there be?" as you questioned...I think so, in some subtle to forward way. An "attitude" does not have to mean surly gesture or a general grumble-bee, it may just be an agressive slam upon making a winning ball when you could have easily rolled it in,,,it's still intimidating at some level. All the other degrees of intimidation are what gauges people's moral fiber(IMMHSO.) sid

Ralph S.
04-05-2002, 01:25 PM
I am not a world-class player but this much I do know, YOU must be yourself and play YOUR game. Having fun while you are playing seems to help a great deal. JMO. Ralph S.

04-05-2002, 02:07 PM
Wow... what a tremendous collection of responses! I want to thank all of you, because there's some great information in what you've all written.

A few things I want to clarify is that these matches are happening in a league, where I have to spot these players 6 games in a race to 11. And what is happening is that C-level players are controlling the table against me for three racks at a time. I am losing 11-5 or 11-4, and I am making only one or two mistakes in the whole set. It is very, very depressing :-(

Anyway, again, these responses have been amazing. I am learning something from all of you!

- Steve

04-05-2002, 02:48 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: Steve_Lipsky:</font><hr> Wow... what a tremendous collection of responses! I want to thank all of you, because there's some great information in what you've all written.

A few things I want to clarify is that these matches are happening in a league, where I have to spot these players 6 games in a race to 11. And what is happening is that C-level players are controlling the table against me for three racks at a time. I am losing 11-5 or 11-4, and I am making only one or two mistakes in the whole set. It is very, very depressing :-(

Anyway, again, these responses have been amazing. I am learning something from all of you!

- Steve <hr></blockquote>

hold it there stevie, you can't sign it off yet. i haven't added my misinformation yet!

i just don't think that you can affect the playing ability of your opponent with any kind of dependability. as mentioned, some folk respond to that by bearing down and playing better. plus, you get to be known as a jerk.

based upon my own experience, it looks to me like you are, indeed, playing down.

any time you wonder why you lost the answer is to be found in yourself and not within the other guy. i will bet you are shooting more low-percentage shots and less safeties than you would against ginky. it's only natural to take the chance and expect to get back to the table.

the most intimidating player is the one who never leaves the table on a miss and just does not seem to be trying that hard.


dan

Tom_In_Cincy
04-05-2002, 03:43 PM
Those are pretty big spots. You should almost be labeled the underdog.. The only way you can approach the game is that if you were playing a great player.. and he had 5 or 6 games on you already.. Now its your turn.. how are you going to perform under that kind of pressure?

04-05-2002, 05:43 PM
I think houstondan has hit the main point, when I play a lesser player there is two things I try to keep in front of me. First, my opponent will play more relaxed since he may not expect to win. Thus he will make shots beyond his skills, sort of the "give up stroke" idea. The second is I am more careless. I don't think so much about controlling the table as I would with a better player.
Put these two mental errors together and you will find this lesser player is getting to the money ball before you.

As most great players have said, play the table not your opponent.

cheesemouse
04-05-2002, 06:07 PM
Steve,
Here is a link to a concept you maybe familier with already but a good reminder none the less.
<a target="_blank" href=http://www.fitnessonline.com/fitnessonline/folViewerTemplates/featarticle.asp?Catid=234&amp;Objid={3ADA6328-0048-11D4-810F-0090277C0A31}&amp;curpage=1&amp;curCatID=6&amp;SuperCID=6&amp;CID= B&amp;SubCID=A>http://www.fitnessonline.com/fitnessonline/folViewerTemplates/featarticle.asp?Catid=234&amp;Objid={3ADA6328-0048-11D4-810F-0090277C0A31}&amp;curpage=1&amp;curCatID=6&amp;SuperCID=6&amp;CID= B&amp;SubCID=A</a>

Cuemage
04-05-2002, 08:32 PM
Steve,
This is the very reason I gave up league play. Opposing teams would always put up their worst player against me b/c they figured to lose that match anyway. It took all the fun out of league play. Although I support league play, I'm strictly tournament player now.

Tha Cuemage

04-06-2002, 03:22 AM
Your attitude at the table is what it is??

When you know yer attitude, then what the other guy does, is irrelevant.

Your attitude at the table is what it is.. Figure out "what it is" and let the other guy figure out what his is..

Balls, balls, balls..

Carson..

Chris Cass
04-07-2002, 01:31 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: Steve_Lipsky:</font><hr> Wow... what a tremendous collection of responses! I want to thank all of you, because there's some great information in what you've all written.

A few things I want to clarify is that these matches are happening in a league, where I have to spot these players 6 games in a race to 11. And what is happening is that C-level players are controlling the table against me for three racks at a time. I am losing 11-5 or 11-4, and I am making only one or two mistakes in the whole set. It is very, very depressing :-(

Anyway, again, these responses have been amazing. I am learning something from all of you!

- Steve <hr></blockquote>

Wait a minute Steve,
With that kind of weight, I want to change my answer. Nah, forget it, I'll stay with the original. When giving up games on the wire. You can't miss, well you could but that doesn't mean give up control.

1 or 2 misses can definitely put you in trouble. The "C" player can run out. It comes down to 2 things as always. Run or play safe. That's against any player though. That's nothing new to you, I'm sure. So, basically it's good to vent and I'm here for ya brother.

Regards,
C.C.~~sounds like the leagues got Steves #. lollol

04-08-2002, 12:15 AM
Wait a minute...wait a minute...

Steve, are you saying that C players are outsmarting you in an even game? Forget about the games on the wire. You're playing even-up with these players because you're both going to the nine...and they're controlling the table?

I can understand how they could control the match if you're giving them the 5 or the 6 ball, but there are 9 balls on the table.

I'll bet there's something you're not picking up on.

Maybe you should have someone watch your match and make a note of how each game is won and lost, and anything else they can observe. You know, there IS a possibility that the rolls are going their way, or maybe you're making more than 2 mistakes and you don't realize it.

Get someone to watch.

Fran

04-08-2002, 06:37 PM
Hi Fran. It's not that they're outsmarting me... it's that they're simply running racks. A C-player is more than capable of stringing two racks, playing a safe, and then running the third. Or making a 9 on the break somewhere in there.

I think Chris Cass may have been right; I might have just needed to vent. For whatever cosmic reason, some players shot a few balls over their heads against me and got some rolls to boot (they roll out of position on a shot, but end up perfect on a lock-up safe opportunity, etc...). Maybe it's just the law of averages or something.
I just hope it's over :-)

- Steve