Billiards (n.): (according to Webster) – Any of several games played on an oblong table by driving small balls against one another or into pockets with a cue; specifically : a game in which one scores by causing a cue ball to hit in succession two object balls
Pool Shark (n.): One who makes money winning pool contests; an expert-level pool player; a hustler.
Firstly, one must commit to the hustle. The “pool hall” has been dramatized as a sanctuary for the unsavory, a den for the drifter, and a haven for the hard living. The pool shark is a gambler.
Probably the most famous man to gamble on the cue ball is Rudolf “Minnesota Fats” Wanderone. Rudolf was born and raised in New York City, and is credited with “popularizing American billiards in the late 20th century,” according to a Brittanica biography. In the spirit of the traveling showmen of the era, Mr. Wanderone made something of a celebrity of himself by traveling across the country playing pool. He seemed to have taken on the role ambassador of the sport.
The Brittanica piece continues, “from the 1930s through the 1960s, (Rudolf) made his living by wagering on private games in pool halls throughout the United States, which contributed to his legendary standing as one of the best players in the nation. Initially known by the moniker ‘New York Fats,’ he adopted the identity ‘Minnesota Fats’ after Jackie Gleason played a pool shark by that name in the 1961 film The Hustler. (Rudolf) came into wide celebrity in the 1960s as a competitor in promotional tournaments and as host of television shows on billiards. He became the leading ambassador of the game in the U.S. and held an executive position at a billiards equipment manufacturer.”
How did he get the name “Fats”? Well, the man stood five-foot, ten-inches tall, and weighed in at around 300 lbs. Billiards really isn’t that thrilling a spectacle. You’ve got to really have something special to make people excited to watch you shoot pool. He did too. In fact, SEGA gave the guy his own video game!