Green’s Dictionary of Slang

hustler n.

[hustle v.]

1. [19C] (US Und.) one of a pickpocket gang.

2. [late 19C–1930s] (US) a racetrack tout.

3. [late 19C+] (US) a hard-working, ambitious person, also an energizer, one who exhorts his fellows to harder work, greater commitment.

4. [late 19C+] anyone who makes a living through their wits and ingenuity, rather than accepting the restraints of a conventional job; their occupations are often, but not invariably, criminal or virtually so.

5. [20C+] (W.I.) a confidence man, a well-dressed beggar.

6. [1910s+] (US Und.) a pimp.

7. [1920s+] (US) a prostitute of either sex.

8. [1930s+] a gambler or player of pool, bowling etc, who uses skill and poss. cheating to make a living against lesser opponents.

9. [1960s+] (US campus) a man who succeeds in seducing women, a womanizer.

10. [1960s+] a tout.

In phrases

hustlers don’t call showdowns

[1960s+] (US black) a phr. meaning one who is on the receiving end of a hand-out does not cause trouble because that might terminate the flow of free gifts.