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Reviews of the book:
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Here are the reviews of the book, in order of appearance:
Billiards Digest, December 2011 issue (George Fels)
The Psychology of Losing
FIRST UP is a highly entertaining/educating project from one of the cue games' more worldly authors, Allan Sand (his titles include "The Art of War vs. The Art of Pool"). This time, it's an entire treatise on sharking, tenderly titled "The Psychology of Losing - Tricks, Traps & Sharks."
Sand's cheery premise is that sharking exists in our everyday lives; indeed, on a daily basis, we shark other people and in turn endure their sharking techniques on us. The author even claims that Sun Tzu utilized sharking in "The Art of War," which is, oh, roughly 2,100 years older than any form of billiards. Invoking history still further, he believes the famous Trojan horse to be the ultimate shark.
Not that I have any personal experience with this, either literally or metaphorically, but one of my favorite chapters in "The Psychology of Losing" is called, with howling political incorrectness, "Alzheimer's." Most of us have been on the wrong side of this; at its broadest, the ploy presents questions such as, "Is it my turn again?" And it can be game-specific, too: "Am I stripes or solids this time?" for 8-ball. "Which pocket is mine again?" for one-hole. "Help me with the score," for straight pool. I can't imagine having the stones to try any form of this unless you're of retirement age or greater, but then again, as I said, I really don't know from Alzheimer's.
Whether you are the sleaziest scum sucking sandbagger, or the most upstanding gentlemen sportsman, you have got to read this book, The Psychology of Losing, Tricks, Traps & Sharks, by Allan Sand. This is a study of the deeper (and sometimes darker) side of competition. Fierce competitors will always size up each other in skill level, but many players do not take the time to discover their opponents' mental strengths and weaknesses.
Sometimes you will see a match where one player is throwing fits and tantrums. Is he really losing his mind to the pressure, or putting on a show to throw his opponent off his game. Usually it's a player with poor emotional control - but sometimes it will be a cool and calculated player, totally under control.
If you are that sleazy scum sucking sandbagger wanting to learn new ways to win cheaply, you'll buy this as a guide. If you are that upstanding gentleman sportsman, you need to study this and learn how to stop anyone who tries to win the easy way.
I highly recommend a read of this book for all who enjoy competitive sports.
Allan Sand has written a very entertaining book that adds to the library of game playing, and indeed life, a useful compendium of tricks and tactics (Sharks) that while outside the standard rules for games, one will nonetheless experience. The various sharks are listed in a convenient description and suggested response form, typically with a humorous example. Regardless of your view on how sharks or "psyching out" your opponent relates to good sportsmanship, reading this book will provide a framework for understanding how to respond when you are a victim. As your skill level at any game improves, you are likely to be on the receiving end of sharks, this book will help you enjoy the games you love and focus on improving your play, by allowing you to neutralize your opponents' gamesmanship.
I loved your book, "The Psychology of Losing". It's amazing how it applies to so many sports and I laughed out loud while reading it! It's really entertaining and covers life experiences in general. Thanks so much for a truly enjoyable reading experience!
One of my favorite chapters was the one on odd habits. We played a pool team for several sessions whose one player had a really bizarre stance and it drove one of the players on our team absolutely crazy. Every time we played this other team, they put their player with the odd, awkward stance against our edgy player and their player won every time. When I read this chapter I replayed those scenes in my mind and enjoyed the joke!
We also play a team occasionally who has a player in a wheelchair. The player has been in the wheelchair for years and plays pretty well. When it is the opponents turn, the wheelchair-bound player does not move away from the table and moves his stick around in the air and taps the edge of the table, throwing off the opponent's concentration completely. If anything is said, the person complaining comes across as insensitive. This just happened again a few nights ago and I realized what a clever sharking ploy it can be.
Thanks again for a terrific and invaluable book. Anyone reading it
should be able to recognize sharking when it is being used against them and
be able to adjust their mental game appropriately.
Ace's Web World - From his cool pool blog:
Allan P. Sand is a man after my own heart. He’s written a book on
sharking, a guide to protecting yourself from ruthless gamesmanship. Now,
I’m pretty well known, especially around bars where players will do anything
short of jumping jacks in your line-of-sight to distract you, for calling
people out for their sharking moves. Strictly speaking, according to my
definition, if you aren’t sitting still, by still I mean motionless, and
quiet, by quiet I mean completely silent, you are engaged to one degree or
another in sharking. There should be no asking about the weather, no
striking up a conversation with other people in the poolroom, no whistling,
no humming, no tapping your stick on the floor, no “nice shot”, no nothing.
Of course, I’m often disappointed by the deportment of my fellow
Maybe, I spend too much time thinking about the topic. In the preface to his book The Psychology of Losing - Tricks, Traps & Sharks, Sand advises “It is important to be aware of situations where psychological tricks and traps can be applied. Being alert helps you minimize and counter their affects. Don't obsess about it, just accept the facts that these attempts are being used by everyone, whether on purpose, or unintentionally.”
Though I’m confident that I generally know when sharking is going on, and I’m quick to point out each individual offense, the task of categorizing the myriad of ploys that qualify as sharking is beyond my analytical abilities. Thankfully, Sand has taken on the monumental task and succeeded. Here, he has broken down sharking into 70+ variations. As I read through them, I found myself remembering again and again instances from my own experience.
Take, for example, his first subcategory “Accusations.” To show you how successful my opponent was in knocking me off my game, I’m still seething over an incident that happened three or four years ago. I was ahead in a local 9-ball tournament match when my opponent started complaining about my racking, claiming that the one-ball had to be dead-center on the spot. I was so pissed off that eventually I told him to go fuck himself and walked out without finishing the match. Not the response that Sand recommends but I did get considerable satisfaction blogging about the experience. I even wrote a poem, A Nit With No Name, about my opponent.
Obviously, Allan P. Sand has put a lot of time and thought into this book and we should be glad he did. I recommend it to all serious players. It’s analysis of sharking moves and suggested responses should be an invaluable asset to your development.
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