Freddy the Beard Bentivegna
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December 2018
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Secrets of a hardcore pool hustler


1. UJ Puckett on CBS 60 Minutes part 1
interview by Harry Reasoner
2. War Stories of Brother U J Puckett>/a>
UJ Puckett on CBS 60 Minutes part 2
4. The Art of Gamesmanship
How to win — any kind of way
5. Pool Players Diet
6. Kilroy’s Rules of the Road
The Hustler’s Handbook
7. The Best Players for the Big Money $$$
Cornbread, Bugs, Ronnie, etc.
8. The Hillbilly Code
The secret codes of hustlers
9. Knockers and the Poolroom Police
Don’t let this be you.
10. Old Hustles:”Three friends and a stranger”

UJ Puckett on CBS 60 Minutes part 1

Harry Reasoner’s look into the hustler’s life of Utley Puckett on CBS 60 minutes.

Rare cameo appearances of Mexican Johnny, Bananas Rodriquez and Jersey Red.

War Stories of Brother U J Puckett

Originally Posted on AZ billiards forums by Jay Helfert, author of, “Pool Wars.”
“Okay, a Puckett story. We are all in Atlantic City for the first Legends Of Pool. All the old timers are there like U.J., Fats, Lassiter, Crane, Mosconi, Caras, Black Rags Woods, etc. . There is some serious money to be won here, something like twenty five grand to the winner. I was there because Big Fights hired me to write all the bio/promo material for the TV guys to use.
The Straight pool guys all hang together and go to sleep early, but the old hustlers like U.J. and Minnesota Fats stay up late hanging out in the bar, telling stories, drinking and just having a lot of laughs with all assembled. Fats and U.J. are having a blast. After all, the bill is on Big Fights, so they are going to party it up on their dime. The conversation gets around to the recent 60 Minutes show with Harry Reasoner, and U.J. tells everyone that he and Harry are buddies now, and he talks to him all the time. He said they even went fishing together, and hung out for a couple of days after the shoot.
A few in the crowd express doubt about this, since Harry Reasoner is a big TV star. U.J. says “Hell, I’ve got his phone number right here. You want me to call him and talk to him right now?” Now, it’s after one in the morning, and U.J. is a little looped and feeling no pain. He has the bartender bring a phone to our booth and plug it in. No one is really believing him. So U.J. pulls out a piece of paper and calls the number in New York. He wakes Harry Reasoner from a dead sleep. “Wake up Harry, it’s U.J.” But once on the phone they begin to gab.

U.J. puts his hand over the phone and says to us, “He’s got a broad with him”, and he cackles away. Now he hands the phone to Fats, telling Harry there’s someone who wants to talk to him. Fats and Harry talk for like 15 minutes, laughing like hyenas. Then he hands the phone back to U.J. U.J. tells Harry to come on down and hang out with them. Now, I know this is crazy, Harry Reasoner is NOT going to come down to Atlantic City to hang out with a bunch of pool players.

The next day Harry is there –with his girlfriend, a young beauty. No one can believe that THE Harry Reasoner is here sweating the pool players. He hangs around all day watching Fats and U.J. play and then they hit the bar. Harry parties with the best of them, drinking and laughing just like one of the boys. U.J., Fats and Harry are like three little kids, telling jokes, laughing their asses off and drinking up a storm. I hung around and did my gofer thing for them until about 2 AM. Then I went to bed. No telling how long they stayed up. Probably til the wee hours. Harry was gone the next day. U.J. said he had to go back to work.”

Wonderful, wonderful story, Jay. That just shows how unique and fabulous those two characters, UJ and Fatty were. Everybody wanted to hang around them. Presidents or emperors wouldn’t have fazed those two. I feel a special kinship to you Jay, because both of us got to experience and appreciate the specialness of those two extraordinary people. I’m so jealous that I wasn’t there with you. May they live forever.
Freddy the Beard

U J Puckett was one of the most colorful pool players who ever lived. Yes, he was a great sharker and a horrible loser. He was not cut out for tournament play. His act only played well to the hustler cognoscenti. In Hot Springs, AR at the Oaklawn Park race meet in the 80s, UJ hung in “Tommies” poolroom with us. He was 80 plus at the time. In those days I was a bad boy, and like many of us at that time, did cocaine. (No longer, many years clean) In those days almost everybody was a user. So here we are, snorting up in the back of the poolroom when unbelievably, Puckett wanted in! We were all astonished. An 80 year old man wanting to party with us! He laughed and said we all thought we were real cool, when actually he’d partied with coke back in the twenties! That’s when I realized I was in the presence of greatness, an octogenarian with the attitudes of a youth.
I didn’t witness this but heard it many times. It was in the late 60’s or early 70’s.
UJ Puckett was playing at the Stardust Hotel, in a straight pool match with “The Jockey”
(Norman Howard) refereeing. I don’t recall who UJ was playing, but I do know that he was from the East Coast. The guy had just had run like 90 balls, and was only a few balls short of winning. He finally missed, and Puckett stepped to the table to begin his inning. Those of us that knew Puckett can appreciate this gambit more than others, but nevertheless it was still ludicrous.
Puckett really didn’t like straight pool, and he certainly didn’t like some New Yorker keeping him in his chair for, what he felt, was like an eternity. So, when he finally had an opportunity to shoot, you could see volcanic ash running from his nose. He got down and began stroking the ball, when suddenly the Jockey hollered, “FOUL!” Puckett’s shirt cuff had lightly touched an obect ball. Puckett refused to acknowledge the called foul and continued to stroke the ball. The Jockey then said, “That’s a foul Puckett.” UJ got up from the shot and looked the Jockey in the eyes and said, “Son that’s no foul, THIS IS A FOUL!” and proceeded to maniacally rake and scramble the rest of the balls all around the table with his cue stick.
Freddy the Beard
From Bill Stroud of Joss West Cues re an oft told Puckett story:
“When I was on the road with Puckett he told me the true story about this particular adventure. He was gambling and spotting a guy playing One-pocket. In those days there were still clay balls around, and the one ball usually took a real beating from players breaking the rack playing Nine-ball.
As it turned out, in the One-pocket game, the sucker was shooting the one ball at his pocket for his game winning ball. He hit it very hard, and the ball split into two pieces. One piece went to the rail and the other piece when into his pocket.
Puckett saw what happened, stared at his opponent, and finally said, “Looks like you still need a half a ball.””

Final Puckett quote: “A man won’t shoot an air barrel aint trying hard enough.”

UJ Puckett on CBS 60 Minutes part 2

Harry Reasoner’s look into the fabulous hustler’s life of Utley J Puckett on CBS 60 minutes. Part 2
Rare cameo appearances of Mexican Johnny, Bananas Rodriquez, and Jersey Red.

The Art of Gamesmanship

This will be a tips and tid-bits section dealing with gamesmanship, or put another way; how to secure yourself an advantage when playing, hustling, or gambling.

When you played me you might as well expect anything. I was a serious advocate of gamesmanship. I learned it’s power at an early age, when it was used regularly against me and kept me broke. I was very subtle however, and seldom got caught. I could do a little work even in the tough joints. Why do you think Ronnie Allen was so hard to beat? We even came to an understanding once, and he bestowed me the honor of not sharking me if I would not shark him. Maybe the only time in his life where he suspended operations. I often thought of doing a course in gamesmanship, something like in that movie, “School for Scoundrels.”

George Fels

An excerpt from George Fels column, NEW CLOTH, in Billiards Digest, Dec. 1993
“…the perfection of the cloth itself. It has not yet been violated by chalk, dust, or that most sinister of stainers, talcum… Naturally, one cannot ignore the sharking possibilities inherent to these aesthetics. The late billiards player Bud Harris, who played pretty fair pool when he could be coaxed into it, had an undeniably prissy nature; he liked everything just so. Thus he stood no chance whatsoever against the Machiavellian Freddy Bentivegna, despite being a much better player back then, because Freddy would simply bring to the table mounds of powder unrivaled for size except in the jungles of Colombia and the mountains of Peru. One had to peer through perpetual fog to watch Fred flay Bud, and more often than not, what one would see was poor Harris doing a kind of forlorn vertical breast-stroke, striving for a reasonable glimpse of at least table if not balls too. The cloth itself was a wonder to behold, (the Fred/Bud encounters took place on 5’x10′ tables in the classic Bensinger’s, for even greater cloth carnage) Kelly green yielding glumly to …white whorls and whirls and swirls…Michael Jordan made a point to decorate the broadcast announcers with a clap or two of talcum just before tip-off; Jordan reportedly plays decent pool, and you have to wonder if he studied talcum technique at Freddy Bentivegna’s knee.”
Here’s an addendum to the above post: As irritating as talcum clouds might be to a fastidious type player — and this should include almost all 3 cushion players — something almost as effective is to turn the chalk upside down and let the granules leak onto the rail. I used to drive the suit and tie billiard players nuts with that move. In truth I was just as big a neat freak as they were, but I was compensated by how much it jerked their chain.
When hustling in a strange joint, bring your own chalk, powder, and cue ball with you. Here are some tricks to get your own cue ball into the game:
When you are about to start a game, make sure you volunteer to bring the balls to the table, this way you can sneakily switch cue balls at the counter. If your opponent is already playing on the table, suggest playing on a different table. If he concedes, you go get the balls and switch the cue balls. If your opponent refuses to change tables, suggest a compromise and ask for a clean set of balls. He can hardly refuse. To keep him busy when he agrees, tell him you will go get the clean balls if he takes the old set off the table. Switch cue balls at the counter.
Advice on lagging for the break: Make sure your opponent goes first. This will allow you to measure his speed of stroke. It is at least a 25% advantage.
When flipping for the break, if flipping a penny, call tails. It’s a 10 to 15% advantage over the normal 50/50 due to the weight disparity on one side. If you are able to make the penny spin on the table, your advantage goes up to at least 60%.
Here’s how strong gamesmanship can be. I was in Milwaukee, WI playing in the National 8 ball Bar Team League Championships in 82 or 84 (I forgot). There were about 200 teams and this was the final shot of the final game of the final match. My team was a strong one, Artie Bodendorfer, Johnny Abbruzzo (greatest team 8 ball player ever), George Powalski (a legitimate 250 ball runner) and me, I was the anchor man. I wound up frozen on the long rail, with the 8 ball between the foot spot and the pocket, and dead straight in. It was not that hard a shot but it was worth $5000, and it was hard to keep the trembles from showing. Needless to say, I dogged it brutally and I miscued. Now I may have been shaky, but I hadn’t lost my ability to think on my feet, so as the cue ball drizzled away from the rail, I caught it with the bottom of the shaft of my stick and rolled it back to be refrozen to the rail, leaving my opponent a tough cut shot on his last ball. It all occurred in one smooth motion, and in those days you could make a guy shoot again after a foul, but there was no cue ball in hand. My opponent shot, missed and left me the length of the table away from the 8. Revitalized now, and with nothing else left to lose, I had already embarassed myself, I hit the 8 as hard as I could, made it, and the cue ball flew around the table and fortunately didn’t scratch. We made the front page of the Billiard News.

Jimmy Reid and Keith McCready

When you are not blessed with natural talent, you have to develop other skills. For example, I was playing in Monroe Brock’s big tournament in Richmond, KY at the Maverick Club. Keith McCready was my opponent, and we were playing 6 out of 11, short rack 9 ball banks. The score was, Keith 5 games to my zero, when I broke the balls and didn’t make anything. Keith banked 4, missed a tough shot for the session ball, and left me hanging in the corner pocket at the foot of the table with no shot. Responding criminally to a hopeless situation, I took a ball out of the ball return box and put it on the spot, giving myself a cross-side. Keith, thinking HE must have broke the balls and made one, didn’t bat an eye. I banked 3 from there, played safe, and wound up winning that game and the next 5 to take the session! There were sweators in the bleachers that knew what had happened, and they were writhing in their seats trying to mentally tip Keith off. Later in that first game, Keith counted the balls that were left, and realized that the score didn’t add up right. He knew something was wrong, but couldn’t put his finger on it. I cooled him out by allowing that no matter what, he still only needed 1 ball, and that was the one thing we were both in agreement about. He also agreed that I banked 3, so what was it we were arguing about? Gamesmanship was my compensation for the discrepancy between Keith and my shot-making skills. Did I feel guilty about it? Nah.
I guess I’m old enough so it don’t matter anymore, so I am going to release what I always considered one of the greatest sharks of all. I rate it as great mainly because it could be used even in super tush-hog spots. It’s basically near un-prosecutable, or discoverable. It was invented by my good friend from Chicago, who now lives and plays in the San Fran/Oakland area, George Michaels. George still plays good so he might not be happy that I am giving his creation up to strangers.

George would stand just off the main line of the shooters sight line with his stick in his hand, butt on the floor, and it standing straight up. While his opponent was stroking, George would slowly lean, perfectly to one side, stick and all, so he would be standing there straight and very still, but at about a 25 degree angle. If his opponent caught even a glimpse at George it could very well confuse his visual perceptions.

Pool Players Diet

If you are planning to gamble that night, don’t eat a big meal. Eat light. You will always play better hungry.

If you know your going to be in action within an hour or two, don’t eat a meal at all. Instead, have a candy bar, a bag of peanuts, or something to that effect.

Pool hustler’s are nocturnal, and usually eat either after they play, which is usually after they win, or after the pool room closes.

A pool hustler’s gourmet menu:

Filet ala Oscar, and a pine float.
(Boloney sandwich, and a toothpick in a glass of water.)

Evening dinner:
Entree of Grilled Tube steak. Finish with Chateau Le Thunder Bird.
(A hot dog and a fifth of T-Bird wine — it used to cost 60 cents a bottle)

Here’s a Roy “Kilroy” Kosmanski story about the realities of pool hustling:
A guy goes into a doctor’s office. “Doc, I think I’m constipated, I ain’t shit in a week.” The doctor prescribes a strong laxative. Guy returns the next day. “Doc, I still ain’t shit.” Doctor prescribes a super powerful laxative, guaranteed to work. Next day the guy is back again. “Still nothing, Doc.” The doctor is perplexed, and decides to dig into the man’s routine. “By the way sir, what do you do f for a living?” “I’m a pool hustler, Doc.” the man replies. The doctor lights up in realization. “Why didn’t you say so in the first place. Here’s a couple of dollars, go get yourself something to eat!”

Kilroy’s Rules of the Road

Secrets from “Kilroy’s” Old-Time Hustler’s Handbook & Rules of the Road.
Items from my personal Hustler’s Handbook. These are lessons that the “Square Johns” that hung in the poolroom were never made privy to — until now. The Handbook was first put together by Roy “Kilroy” Kasmanski, the great “lemon hustler” from Detroit. They were known as his Rules of the Road.

Kilroy’s rule #1
Always keep a warm blanket in the trunk to use for sleeping in the car, and in case the car breaks down in winter.
Rule #2
Learn to sleep comfortably in the back seat of a car.
Rule #2a
Kilroy says to take a can opener and a spoon with you on the road, ” ’cause it’s easier to eat the canned beans if ya’ got the right tools.”
Rule #3
When you are going to “scoot the check” (leave without paying) in a restaurant. Make sure you have a large bill folded over the check just in case you get stopped outside. This way you can convincingly demonstrate that paying the check just slipped your mind and you can show the attached money as proof.
Rule #4
(This old-time hustler’s road advice no longer applies, it comes from the days when there were no credit cards and you had to put up your luggage as collateral in a hotel. You couldn’t get past the front desk with your luggage without paying your bill.)
Never go on the road without taking a long rope with you. Reason: When you are getting ready to leave the hotel and duck paying the bill, use the rope to lower your luggage out of the window down to your associate, who recovers it, throws it in the car, and down the road you go.
Rule #5
On the road, where do you keep your bankroll? Never keep it in your wallet. Keep it in many different pockets. This way if you get jack-rolled or heisted, it’s unlikely they will get all the money.
Freddy the Beard’s Rule #6
If you are gambling in a bad joint and you become forced to defend yourself outside, and you happen to wear glasses; to insure that at the very least, the glasses don’t get broken, throw them under a parked car before the melee. I say this from personal experience, I once had to fight my way out of a hillbilly bar. I returned later, and recovered my untouched specs from under the vehicle. As an aside, I did get away with all the money also.
Rule #7
Always keep a 2 foot rubber hose in the trunk for when you’re broke and out of gas, so you can sereptitiously siphon enough fuel out of someone else’s tank to get you going. (This old-time hustler’s road advice no longer applies with the new gas tanks)
Rule #8
A Pool Hustler’s gourmet menu:
Lunch:Filet ala Oscar, and a pine float.(Boloney sandwich, and a toothpick in a glass of water.)Evening dinner:Entree of Grilled Tube steak. Finish with Chateau Le Thunder Bird.( A hot dog and a fifth of T-Bird wine. 1960 price, 60 cents a bottle.)

Anonymous said:
“Freddy, you are making the road sound pretty brutal. When do the tips come for the good times on the road. Like the day after a big score when you get to get the big suite and relax by the pool with the hookers?”
Freddy the Beard said:
“Ah yes, Anonymous, but these tips are the things that help you to survive and eventually have an opportunity to make a score and party with the hooker’s. Those stories will be related in other posts.”
Rule #9
To protect against getting ripped off in a strange pool room, put your coat and cue case under the table you are playing on. This advice applies double in cold weather.
Rule #9a
If you see two guys shaking hands in a poolroom, one of them is a sucker.
Rule #9b
If you are in a poolroom or a card game and you can’t figure out who the sucker is, then it’s probably you.
Rule #10
If you have to drink coffee, make sure to leave the cover on the cup. That will discourage, the “Jar hustlers” (Unscrupulous rogues that put scopolomine in your drink) from just passing over the cup and dropping the “jar”in. That makes it much harder for them to ply their evil trade.
Rule #11
Put up the money before every session — and have somebody you know hold the stakes. Get paid after every game, and don’t sleep any scratches. Never mark games up on the wire unless you’re the guy with the short money.
Freddy the Beard’s Rule #12
When leaving a tough spot where you just won the money and sense there will be trouble from the losers, send whoever didn’t do the playing out first. They won’t follow him as long as you are still in the joint with the money.Your associate’s instructions are simple: Get the car, pull it right in front of the place with the motor running, the passenger door open, and the car pointed towards home.I once had a partner who left the last part out. He did everything perfect except pull the car out of the parking space. I went outside, jumped in the car, and while he was maneuvering out of the parking space, the bad guys descended, pulled their guns and got in the car. I eventually escaped, with all the cheese, and my life and limb, but that’s another story.The reasoning behind my instructions are sound, the tush-hogs will seldom pull a shot in the joint. They would rather wait and do their mischief outside, where nobody can see anything to call the police about.
Rule #13
A good place to hide your bankroll in a motel room is inside the shower-curtain rod. It’s hollow and can be easily removed and replaced.You may have to remove 1 or 2 screws, so pack a combo, Phillips/Square-head screwdriver for such occasions.Don’t quote me on this, but a curtain rod also makes a good stash for illicit chemicals.

Kilroy’s advice regarding gambling with a very hard-nosed player: “Don’t bet against him. He tries so hard he puts fingerprints in the slate.”

A Kilroy story about the realities of pool hustling:A guy goes into a doctor’s office. “Doc, I think I’m constipated, I ain’t sh*t in a week.” The doctor prescribes a strong laxative. Guy returns the next day. “Doc, I still ain’t sh*t.” Doctor prescribes a super powerful laxative, guaranteed to work. Next day the guy is back again. “Still nothing, Doc.” The doctor is perplexed, and decides to dig into the man’s routine. “By the way sir, what do you do for a living?” “I’m a pool hustler, Doc.” the man replies. The doctor lights up in realization. “Why didn’t you say so in the first place. Here’s a couple of dollars, go get yourself something to eat!

The Best Players for the Big Money $$$

(Cornbread and me. Probably my all-time favorite pool pic)

I look at this question from a little different perspective. I rate not who played the best for the big money, but rather who you had better not give a gamble to. Some guys played great for big money, but they always had a good game. My respect goes out to those guys that didn’t need a good game, just a good gamble. Just show them that they could win big money, and how good the game was was secondary. Artie Bodendorfer played great for big money, but he wouldn’t play with a bad game. Cornbread Red Burge, Ronnie Allen and Leonard “Bugs” Rucker, their only requirement for playing was to just give them a gamble and tititlate them with the prospect of a score. Having the worst of it did not really matter. Actually, every time I ever seen those guys playing for the big stuff they had the worst of it. The standard advice about playing one of those guys for big cheese was, “Whatever it is you think you need to have the nuts, you better still try to get one or two more balls, if you want to win. I never in my life seen any of those guys get an even-up gamble for the mega-bucks. As the bet went up, so did their competitive nature.

The key factor that those guys had for outrunning the nuts, was when they did come with a shot they got all the way out! Games that had both players in the one-hole were rare because those guys never stopped on the game ball. If I had to pick the most frightening guy to play with for giant money out of those three it would have to be Cornbread Red. As the bet went up his already long slip stroke would lengthen ever further. I will never forget a set for 30k he won in Philly playing “Cornflakes” (aka John “World” Hennigan, he now plays in the World Series of Poker) with me, Buddy Hall, and Wade Crane each betting 1800 each on Red. Cornbread was shooting at a triple-shimmed 4″ pocket, and he had a long straight-back for the money. He long-stroked it in 100mph. After the set he grumbled that he didn’t have time to go home to Detroit and get more money to bet than the measly 30k. He was my hero and I miss him terribly.

Here is a poem dedicated to that great man:

The Pilgim, Chapter 34
By Cowboy Dennis

See him standing at the table
With the cue stick in his hand
He’s played in every poolroom
And all the bars throughout the land

They say to be the best
You have to beat this man
This man with nerves of steel
And piano player hands

His amazing grace and accuracy
Have shot men down like lambs
Many men have tried to take him
At oh so high a cost
Many men that thought themselves better
Have only to say “I lost”

Yet they still keep trying
To take him if they can
Somehow they think that if they win
It makes them the better man

But he’s been around forever
And he’s paid all his dues
So everyone knows he’s still the best
If occasionally he should lose

He’s played for hundreds and thousands
Sometimes for days and days
He’s played the best the world can offer
And takes the cash and all the praise

He’s a legend in his own time
He’s a hustler supreme
He’s a gentleman with the ladies
He’s the best that we have seen

He’s a killer when it comes to pool
A shark in a sea of fish
To play with his ability
Mortal men have wished

Who is this man with steely nerves
And hair of fading red
To some he’s known as Billy Burge
But he’ll go down in history
As the one and only “CornBread Red

The Hillbilly Code

“Tom” and “George” are two of the secret components of the “Hillbilly Hustler’s Code.” There are many more words and hand signals that all “made” hustlers used throughout the country in the old days. Using the word or name”Tom,” in any conversation denoted something “bad.” Conversely, the word or name “George,” meant something or whatever, was “good.” You knew you were a “made” scuff when someone taught you the hand signs and code words. It was a small tight group. You all would be surprised to find out just how many old-time, famous pool hustler/players were never made privy to that info.

Sample code words for playing cards or pool balls:

One ball or Ace ………….play
Two ball or deuce………..sit or sh*t
Four ball or four……………funny
Seven ball or seven…….certainly or certain
Eleven ball or Jack……….break
Thirteen ball or King…….come

Hustler talk:
“Laying out a spread.”
A ploy used to lure a victim into a bad game or trap. It’s lIke laying out a banquet spread on a buffet table, seemingly with all kinds of goodies to choose from. But when you go to bite into something it bites back. ‘Frisco Jack Cooney was the acknowledged master of this manuever. I also used this move to beat Archie The Greek Karas out of 200 grand.

Knockers and the Poolroom Police

How does one conduct ones self in the poolroom? It depends on whether you have a huster’s mentality or a square-johns. A hustler is looking to CREATE action, ALLOW action, and WIN MONEY. If you are hanging in the poolroom with a hustler’s mentality then you should learn to hate the knockers and the mother hens that run around looking to “protect” their flock, the self-appointed poolroom patrolmen. If you want to make sure that every game is exactly even (and who are you to make that determination?), and take it personal when you see someone going “off,” why did you pick a poolroom to spend your time in the first place? When I was coming up, knocking was a dangerous profession. If a player came around that I knew and nobody else did, it was professional courtesy to keep my mouth shut and let grown men take care of themselves. The pluses for this type of behavior was many; you could bet on the side, you could discreetly ask the player for a piece of his action, and you could ask for a consideration bite after the player won. By keeping the player anonymous, you could take him to other spots and win more money. Lastly, If you had a treacherous nature, as some did then, after accumulating trust by keeping silent you could later steer the player into a game where he couldnt win. If the players knew they could go somewhere, get action and not get knocked, this encouraged other players, some not so good, to come around and want to play in your place. This made for an action spot where everybody had a chance to make money. In Chicago’s Bensingers, and Detroit’s Rack and Cue, knockers were looked upon as pariahs and were always at risk for physical violence.

Here is a good example of how this works out well for everybody concerned (except the victims):
I brought Jack Cooney to the all-black poolrooms on the South and West Side of Chicago. There were several players in each room that knew Cooney. None said a word. However, after Jack took each joint off, they all came around with their hands out and all received fair consideration.

I always thought that you went to a poolroom to play, gamble and compete. Knocking does nothing
to further those concepts.

Old Hustles:”Three friends and a stranger”

This was a hustle designed to catch a live sucker with a bankroll, in a bar. There would be three of us in the bar challenging the table. We acted as if we were three separate guys. Only one of us would be shooting good. Finally, one of us would declare that it would be more fun to play partners because we wouldn’t have to sit out games that way. Naturally the sucker would choose the “good” shooter as his partner. We would reluctantly agree but one of the weak looking guys would demand a raise in the bet so he could have a chance to get even. The larceny would come out in the sucker, since the apparent best player was his partner. Now, one of the other two partners begins to shoot good and the suckers partner starts to tail off. Now the sucker, after a few payoffs, wants to change partners and get the new hot shooter. The guy that hasn’t made a ball yet, agrees only if the bet goes up again so, “he can have a chance to get even.” This combo doesn’t work out for the mark either. Finally, the sucker quits the partner game and wants to play head up with the third guy who hasn’t made a ball all night. I was usually the third guy. Of course we raise the bet again, and I come to life just enough to finally bust him. A funny comment one determined sucker made while deep into the spread was, “I’ll beat you three mother——s yet!” Try as he might he never could find the correct combination