Saturday, February 13, 2010

Hoodlums and Pool

A friend and I occasionally play table tennis. Most of the clubs where we play also have pool tables. I've long ago noticed that the pool-playing demographic invariably looks more thuggish than the folks playing ping-pong. The latter group is mostly comprised of young Asians, white nerds and middle-aged, seemingly married couples of all races. The pool players look either like rap video extras or like the guys those extras will turn into if they age a lot and maybe get janitor jobs somewhere.

This reminded me that while I was growing up in Russia the criminal element there loved playing pool. Except for an oversupply of testosterone, those guys had nothing in common with the average American hoodlum. And it's not just race and culture - Russian crime tends to be well-organized, while American crime is often random. Everything is different except for this fondness for billiards.

Perhaps there is something intrinsic in that game that attracts dumb high-testosterone guys to it. The poses one takes, the languid pace, the shape of the cues. Or maybe it's something I'm missing entirely.


  1. Yes, it is a pretty weird conundrum. I'd say it's just a random thing, but that's almost never the case.

  2. People who are gangsters or who admire gangsters might like pool for several reasons:
    (1) Pool is enshrined in gangster and pool-hustler movies;
    (2) Pool allows people to play while smoking and drinking;
    (3) The game of pool started out in "pool halls" where gamblers pooled their money to bet on horse races;
    (4) Pool is not overly physically demanding and easily allows the players to carry weapons.