The Hustler is working a Short Con
. He has a simple tale, one that a single person can tell. Generally, the hustler is a little down on his luck, and a little less smooth than a Con Man
The traditional use of the term is for a con artist who tricks others into competing against him for money. The Hustler will join a game as an enthusiastic but unskilled player, building up the other players into believing they are superior. Once that's done, the Hustler (or an accomplice) will then suggest playing for high stakes; when the money is on, the Hustler demonstrates his true skills
and takes his overconfident opponents to the cleaners.
Not to be confused with the Larry Flynt magazine, or the 1961 film starring Paul Newman and Piper Laurie.
Anime and Manga
- Hare from Monster Rancher started off as this, cheating the main characters out of all their cash on his first appearance after he correctly gauged their rather extreme level of gullibility. He later joins the group himself, mostly out of the desire for a bigger challenge and the chance for some fun.
- Because on its frequent focus on criminals, Monster features several examples - notably, Otto Heckel and Gunther Milch.
- Trixie and her magic, which is just a shortcut to finding rich and famous patrons, in Rainbooms and Royalty.
- Fast Eddie Felson of The Hustler, who screwed the pooch on the hustle so bad that both Paul Newman and Tom Cruise had to do a movie about him.
- Moses Pray and Addie Loggins are an (suggested) father-daughter team of hustlers in Paper Moon.
- In Duets, Ricky Dean makes a living by traveling across the country and visiting karaoke bars, where he finds the singer with the biggest ego and insults their hobby and their singing voice until they demand that he take the stage himself, usually betting him money that he can't do any better. Since the character is played by Huey Lewis, it goes without saying that they're usually dead wrong. Usually this pays off for Dean, though sometimes it doesn't turn out so well.
- In the sixth Police Academy movie, Commandant Lassard and another officer enter a tough bar hoping to question everyone, and a shady guy "invites" him to a game of pool, telling another shady guy he's going to "hustle the old cop for all he's got". Unfortunately for the crook, Lassard is much better at pool than they thought, winning easily. The crook nervously asks him what he wants to know.
- The Discworld conman Moist von Lipwig is probably too smooth to qualify as a hustler (at least before Vetinari starts boxing him), but deserves mention for one of his personas, a "lack of confidence trickster" named Edwin Streep, whose down-on-his-luck demeanor and inept Find The Lady game are a cover for forgery (none of the money he loses is real) and pickpocketing (once the marks have shown him where their wallet is, they often never have the chance to discover the money is fake).
- On White Collar Neal is a master forger who specializes in long cons but is just as good in doing short cons and hustles. A flashback shows him doing simple cons on tourists when he is low on funds because he had all his money stolen by a mark who managed to out gambit him.
- Time Scout: Skeeter Jackson, Chuck Farley, and Goldie Moran are all masters of the short con.
- Ash in Hustle.
- Harry Anderson had a small role on Cheers as this type of character.
- In one episode of Married... with Children, Kelly made money hustling pool with Jefferson managing her. (Unfortunately, Al ruined what would have been her biggest payout.)
- Sarah Manning in Orphan Black.
- Toph from Avatar: The Last Airbender takes up this role in the Season 3 episode "The Runaway". She plays up her blindness in various gambling events, and then uses her Earthbending to cheat and win plenty of money. Things go awry when Combustion Man hijacks one of her schemes to try and kill Aang.