The origin of this song is related in The Billboard Book of #1 Country Hits
. Songwriter Tom T. Hall was partly inspired by the classic 1961 Oscar winning Paul Newman film The Hustler
, and also appears to have had his fingers burned while shooting pool himself, probably when he was young and foolish. According to Tom Roland's book, "The song told the story of a would-be hustler who meets up with a pro and loses his shirt", and topped the Country Chart in May 1970.