TIME White House

Colorado Gov: Obama’s a ‘Shark’ on the Pool Table

John Hickenlooper, Mary Fallin
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks during the closing session of the National Governors Association convention, July 13, 2014, in Nashville. Mark Humphrey—AP

"I didn’t know that people in Hawaii played that much pool," said Gov. John Hickenlooper

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper didn’t just get beat by President Barack Obama when they were shooting pool last week in Denver—he got beat twice.

Speaking to reporters at the National Governors Association meeting in Nashville Sunday, a week after the president visited his state to fundraise for Democratic candidates and deliver remarks on the economy, Hickenlooper, a former bar-owner, recounted his defeat, declaring the president a “shark.”

“You know I’ll tell ya — the man is a shark,” he said. “I was up a few balls. I felt pretty good. I was actually wondering whether how hard should I—you can’t beat the president of the United States. And then literally before my eyes he ran like four balls.”

So they played double or nothing.

“The second time I was playing as hard as I could possibly play and I still have four balls on the table when he nailed the 8-ball,” the Colorado Democrat said. “And he was making long shots with a difficult angle. I didn’t know that people in Hawaii played that much pool. But evidently they do.”

The stakes? $10 for the first game, and then $20, but the President was out to exact a more significant prize.

“I gave him the $20 bill and he laughed,” Hickenlooper said. “And of course by that time the press corps had all left but there were still 100 people who were there with their cell phone cameras. So he said, ‘no, no, governor, come over here—hand it to me again.’ And he holds the $20 bill up so that everyone can get pictures of it. And I give it to him. And as he’s getting into the car he shakes my hand, and in his handshake is a $20 bill and he says ‘find a good charity.’ Which is, like, very diminishing.”

“I’m not a bad pool player,” Hickenlooper continued, chalking up Obama’s victory to his focus. “When I was in the private sector I built five pretty good sized pool halls. A lot of our business meetings were around a pool table trying to think through problems. It’s a great way to think, right. To have a discussion with someone you focus on the game, talk about the issue, then you focus on the game. Anybody who was trying to prepare for exams in college has done that once or twice, not always too good effect. But the fact that—he’s good. He’s good. Part of it is, and this is no surprise to anybody, is he’s obviously got a remarkable focus. So he was when he was just kind of playing, we’re talking and hanging out, he made some and lost some. But when he focused, he was really good.”

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