Need a story? Hopefully this qualifies.
I believe that there are very few players who don't imagine themselves in that big game, where upon they win gobs and gobs of money. Many have and still do search for that proverbial "Fish". You know, the guy that you play every week and no matter the ass whippin' you put on them, they continue to pay and play. For several years, I had a route with 5 or 6 steady opponents who would feed my pockets. Those shooters needed to be nurtured and treated well in order to keep in their favor. These were players I could count on to win $75 to $500 at any time. Of course with the times being in the late 70's, early 80's, that was good money. At that time, I held down a full time job and virtually lived on the money I made playing pool through the week and banked my entire paycheck.
One of my customers was a gent who was a bit older than me, owned a construction company and liked to bet. In the beginning, when I first started to match up with him, there were times that I did struggle to get ahead, but I always left with the cheese. I would arrange a match with him about once every two to three weeks, because I did not want to go to the well too often and have him lose interest. Besides, I had my other customers to visit. After about a year and a half, I was probably into him for in excess of $3000.
Initially, we had played straight pool, but we changed to 9-ball and always started our session at $3.00 a game. I would always ask to raise the bet when I would get ahead 5 games. In which he would oblige me and the stakes would go to $5.00 a game. Most of the time, I wouldn't ask to raise the bet until I was ahead 10 games. In which he would, again, oblige me and the stakes would go to $10.00 a game. Of course, when I would get up 10 games again, I would offer to raise the bet to $20.00 a game. Sometimes he would accept and sometimes he wouldn't. Now, I had known this man for several years, even before we started shooting together, so we always marked the games on the wire and paid up after we were finished. It was a proper and polite practice to incur a trust towards the money and it also eliminated that pressure to exchange funds, which always made the customer comfortable. In the past, I had lost clients by being too aggressive in regards to the bet and how it was collected. So, the wire was sort of like using a credit card, because no one had to pay for anything yet. Playing on the wire was a common practice and my feelings were, if you didn't want to pay at the end, explain to me what you were going to do if you had won. If you were playing short, I would accept collateral of some sort. I took a guy's shoe one time, a belt another, even a took the guy's wallet. Most of the time it was the cue. You can't imagine how many people lost money to me that they didn't have. I guess they really thought that after they got stuck they could actually win it back. Never happened.
Anyway, on this particular Saturday afternoon, our day started the same as most of the other ones. $3.00, $5.00, $10.00 a game. Usually when the bet got to $20.00 a game, that would spell that we were nearing an end. But, on this day we were deeper than we had ever been before. I was up 15 games at $20.00 a game and he was still racking. Not wanting to spoil the action, I continued to quietly shoot. 17, 18, 19, now 20 games ahead. At this point, I did ask him what he would like to do. I explained that he would not be able to get even at this rate. He agreed and we doubled the bet. Needless to say, I was trying to contain my excitement. All my energy was being pumped into my shooting. I went from 10 games ahead at $40.00 a piece to 20 games in what seemed like minutes. This guy could not have shot at more than a couple of balls over those games. I again asked him "What do ya want to do?" He responds by saying, "I'm going to get even, let's play for a hundred!" Rack 'em. Bam, bam, bam like the beat of a drum. I wasn't going to stop. I started envisioning owning a backhoe or a dump truck. I was up 25 games. Now, this guy was a family man and a this point, I really needed to know how this was going to end. He told me he wasn't stopping until he was even and we should play double or nothing. "$2500 for one game after more than six hours of play? Your nuts!" I said. "We can double the bet to $200!" He declined, racked them again and I won the next four. I knew this was not going to end pleasantly, if I did not initiate a resolution. At this juncture, I now offered him the $2500 game. He moaned, but accepted! I was faced with my own judgement. Do I win? Or do I lose? What was at stake might be more than the money. But, I was in "Dead Stroke!" I couldn't miss if I tried. See, feel, hit, in. It was all there. Clearing the balls off the table, I knew I was going to get out. But, my mind was now telling me that this would not be my best option. The seven, eight and nine were laying very near the foot rail. No more than 12" separated them. I had a shot on the six that I felt I could effectively scratch on so that it would look like I had made a mistake. With cue ball in hand, he most certainly could clean the last three off with stop shots if he would place the cue ball properly. I did scratch and I promptly handed him the cue. He did place the cue ball properly. Oh, but I started to shutter because he was shaking so bad, I thought he wouldn't get it done. In fact the 9-ball rattled dramatically before finally dropping. I said, "That's it!" and unscrewed my stick.
God Bless this man, because he recognized that I had just dumped the game to him. He paid me the $400.00 owed, paid all the table time (seven hours worth) and took me up to the House of Pizza for a pitcher of beer and a pizza. He told me that it was the best 9-ball he had ever seen played and that I should be playing so and so, and so and so.
We never played again.
I know I made the right decision, but sometimes I ponder the old... What if?