clash royale hack gunpixel.com mobilelegendstool.us robloxtool.com clashroyaletool.info mrcoinsfifa.com besthomescapes.com
HomeAbout Billiards DigestContact UsArchiveAll About PoolEquipmentOur AdvertisersLinks
Tips & shafts
By George Fels
Consulting Editor George Fels has been writing for Billiards Digest since 1980, and his "Tips & Shafts" column is usually our readers' first stop when they crack open the magazine. For better or worse, pool has been his only mistress for 40-plus years.


Archives
• December 2020
• October 2020
• September 2020
• August 2020
• June 2020
• April 2020
• March 2020
• February 2020
• January 2020
• December 2019
• November 2019
• October 2019
• September 2019
• August 2019
• July 2019
• June 2019
• May 2019
• April 2019
• March 2019
• February 2019
• January 2019
• December 2018
• November 2018
• October 2018
• September 2018
• July 2018
• July 2018
• June 2018
• May 2018
• April 2018
• March 2018
• February 2018
• January 2018
• November 2017
• October 2017
• September 2017
• August 2017
• July 2017
• June 2017
• May 2017
• April 2017
• March 2017
• February 2017
• January 2017
• December 2016
• November 2016
• October 2016
• September 2016
• August 2016
• July 2016
• June 2016
• May 2016
• Apr 2016
• Mar 2016
• Feb 2016
• Jan 2016
• December 2015
• November 2015
• October 2015
• September 2015
• August 2015
• July 2015
• June 2015
• May 2015
• April 2015
• March 2015
• February 2015
• January 2015
• October 2014
• August 2014
• May 2014
• March 2014
• February 2014
• September 2013
• June 2013
• May 2013
• April 2013
• March 2013
• February 2013
• January 2013
• December 2012
• November 2012
• October 2012
• September 2012
• August 2012
• July 2012
• June 2012
• May 2012
• April 2012
• March 2012
• February 2012
• January 2012
• December 2011
• November 2011
• October 2011
• September 2011
• August 2011
• July 2011
• June 2011
• May 2011
• April 2011
• March 2011
• February 2011
• January 2011
• December 2010
• November 2010
• October 2010
• September 2010
• August 2010
• July 2010
• May 2010
• April 2010
• March 2010
• February 2010
• January 2010
• December 2009
• November 2009
• October 2009
• September 2009
• August 2009
• July 2009
• June 2009
• May 2009
• April 2009
• March 2009
• February 2009
• January 2009
• October 2008
• September 2008
• August 2008
• July 2008
• June 2008
• May 2008
• April 2008
• March 2008
• February 2008
• January 2008


Best of Fels
 
November: James of Brooklyn
November 2020

By George Fels
[Reprinted from December 1997]


He is to pool hustling everything that Willie Sutton was to bank robbing: unfailingly the best of a category, much revered by his alleged peers and well-liked and even admired by his victims. James Cassas, far better known everywhere as Brooklyn Jimmy, was one bona fide artist when it came to game-making, effortlessly convincing you that he was half your speed when he had you twenty barrels stuck. And that doesn’t even take into account his true ability, which was only a flicker under national class — yet disguised by demands of humongous handicap from virtually everybody he played.

The last time I had seen Jimmy was almost exactly 30 years ago, in my one and only visit to New York’s many-storied poolroom known as 711. He was seated on the corner of the table nearest the counter, swinging a leg and reading The Racing Form. So deeply was he enmeshed in his Bible studies that he didn’t even notice the purebred sucker he had fleeced of $15 10 years before, when the latter was but a tender, trembling teen. But now, miraculously, I had him before me in the flesh, still trim (he pitched double A baseball once), his first trip to Chicago since the early ’60s. I fought off the inclination to genuflect, and instead listened for hours to his sweet, street-smart chin music, liberally sprinkled as it was with “Know what I mean?” (I did), and “To make a long story short…” (he didn’t).

Jimmy has not had a cue in his hand for 12 years, and it is much longer than that since he has needed to. Despite his remarkable talent, pool never represented much more to him than an opportunity to raise money for his real passion, the racetrack. And one day things just fell into place: Jimmy scored $1.4 million, took it to New York’s diamond center, put it into action and has lived quite comfortably almost ever since. He doesn’t remember what his long run was (although he recalls that he went from a 30- to 40-ball runner to a runout player who tore off straight-pool hundreds, or one-pocket eights, or 9-ball nines, easily with the advent of plastic balls).

While his formal education is limited, his pool schooling is easily the equivalent of Harvard, Cambridge and Oxford in one. Johnny Irish, Jersey Red, Boston Shorty and many others were on hand to teach him that any single mistake, no matter how seemingly trivial, could cost you twenty minutes in the chair. The talent pool, no pun intended, in New York and New Jersey even before “The Hustler” was as rich as it has ever been; 200-ball runners could be turned up in every one of New York City’s five boroughs. It was the very last true hustlers’ era in which shortstop-and-better players could eke an existence out of disguising their skill and nursing their customers along, knowing they could pull the trigger at any time.

Jimmy’s specialty in the early days was in wheedling $40 or $50 scores out of guys who had come to play for 50 cents or a buck. A typical ploy went like this: Jimmy would either blow a game to a stooge (and that’s how he hooked me), or slough off a few games to his guppy of the day, then insist on, say, the 7 and the break from any opponent who played this side of Ray Charles. The mark would then promptly go 15 or 20 games in the hole, at which point Jimmy would announce that he was quitting.

“Whaddya mean, you’re quittin’? You got me stuck!”

“Nah,” Jimmy would counter. “I see what’s goin’ on here. I’m onto ya. You’re hustlin’ me. You’re gonna run up a decent tab, and then all of a sudden you’re not gonna wanna bet a buck no more; it’s gonna be $10 or $20 a game. I know the tyoe. I’ve seen you hustlers before.” At this stage, the sucker could be counted on to be struck dumb, if not comatose, in confusion, so Jimmy would continue. “And you know what? I’m gonna go for it. I can’t let you get even — I’m too smart for that — but I will let you play a couple games for $20, just so you don’t get hurt too bad.”

No scam was considered complete in Jimmy’s mind unless the mark was actually grateful for the splendid opportunity to stick his finger down his own throat. “Gee, Jimmy,” would be the usual response. “Thanks for the chance. You’re all right.”

Feeling like the guy in the joke who squanders his life savings on a trip to Tibet and climbs the Himalayas to seek out the guru and learn the true meaning of life, I decided to ask the question that had haunted me ever since I first heard of Jimmy’s legend: What was with the pulling-legs-off-flies tactic of making chumps give you a spot?

The first thing I noticed about his answer was that he smiled broadly first. “It was because I love seeing the larceny come out in other people.”

In other people?

“Sure. Don’t you think all those people were trying to fleece me too? Look here,” he said, shooting a well-tailored cuff to reveal an elegant watch. “There is no way on earth that I can sell this Patek Phillipe to a farmer. The farmer isn’t going to know from Patek Phillipe; he thinks watches are Mickey Mouses or whatever. But you give me a slick city guy who thinks he knows watches, and he thinks he can get the jump on me. That’s the guy I can probably sell a $12 knockoff to. Once I see his larceny. And pool’s no different. I never took the 7-8-9, or whatever, from anybody who didn’t think he was gonna beat my brains in with it. Know what I mean?”

Every East Coast player I ever asked has told me two things: Brooklyn Jimmy was the finest hustler they had ever seen bar none, and, away from the table, he was as nice a guy as you could hope to meet. I agree wholly with both contentions. But he still didn’t offer me my $15 back.

MORE VIDEO...