If I was a snooker player, I don't think I would ever consider playing a shot that would reduce my chances of winning the match, no matter how entertaining it seemed. It wouldn't necessarily be about money or providing for my family, it would be about wining and losing, about the game itself and about the challenge... But of course that doesn't mean I would necessarily play a cautious game. I would play to my strengths...
I know some players have played to the crowd in the past, but I think it's often overstated... I remember how attacking Neil Robertson was when he first broke through. Some people appreciate him more now that his game has matured in terms of pace and shot selection, others are disappointed that he has sacrificed his natural game for the sake of winning at all costs. I can see some similarities in the way Mark Allen's game is developing, still playing exhibition shots when frames are won, but thinking more about his options on crucial shots. Liang Wenbo used to be a popular target for snooker fans to criticize, everyone seemed to have an opinion on how he should change his game. And now Judd Trump is the king of this. But thinking about all these players... I never thought they went for their shots in the name of entertainment. They just played (and still do) the kind of snooker they feel most comfortable with, they play the shots they think will win them frames and matches. When I see Jamie Cope declining a good safety in favour of an ill-advised long pot, I never think entertaining the crowd is his guide to shot selection, I think it's more a reluctance to rely on an element of his game that he considers weak.
And of course, if that element gets stronger, you use it more and more, just like in the case of Robertson. Some players develop beyond their natural (often one-dimensional) game, others seem stuck with it for most of their career. Sometimes it's also about what kind of person you are... Some people relish a strategic battle where they have to pick their moves, others prefer not to overthink and just go with the least complicated option, and in the case of snooker, that's usually the pot. I was on a playground a couple of years ago, and two little kids were playing football. They were "in character" so to speak, each choosing a famous player they wanted to be, and one of them was yelling "I'm gonna be Ronaldinho" as he was retreating into a defensive position and going for the tackle. It's understandable, everyone dreams of scoring the decisive goal or producing some sort of magic with the ball. No one wants to be "Nesta" and make a key tackle or commit a smart tactical foul.
I guess it's the same with snooker, everyone dreams of winning with a magical clearance or an outrageous pot, not with good discipline and clever tactics. And when you're up against it, you either resort to instinct and play like you did when you first started, or you call on your experience.
Different people find different styles entertaining. Some criticize John Higgins for playing boring textbook snooker, others call it a masterclass. Some find outrageous pot attempts exciting, others call it poor shot selection. Personally, I've always been most entertained by players who do their best to win, by players who look to use their strengths and hide their weaknesses. And I've always been fascinated by tactics and strategy, not just in snooker, but in all sports and life in general. Any time someone realizes they are at a disadvantage and use their head to do something about it, they earn nothing but respect from me. I know I am in the minority here, as most people probably don't watch snooker with that sort of mindset. But I guess if I was a player, just knowing that minority existed would give me some satisfaction, even if everyone else hated me.