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Author Topic: Are Carnival games rigged?
LittleDuck
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I think it depends on the game, the fair/carnival/ and the person who owns and/or runs the game. For instance, you're more like to win at Busch Gardens because it is always there, not a travelling carnival or fair. Since it's always there it would be far easier for people to report them for fraud. A travelling show, OTOH, is gone in a few days.

The types of games you have a better shot at would be the ones where many people play at once. The type of game where you pick a number or color and a ball is tossed in or a mouse is released to go into a hole (I haven't seen this type since I was little). Another would be where you shoot the water into the clown's mouth to inflate the balloon. The clown balloon game is one I have one many times and the prize size always depended on how many players there were.

A good rule of thumb is this - if there is a sign with a dozen rules such as "No leaning" "You must throw from specified spot" and all that are probably difficult at best to win. Keep in mind when the person running the game is showing you how easy it is to get the wiffle ball into the clothes basket he is always standing at a different angle than you are.

Final thought, I would like to know where the heck it is that games cost a buck to play. I haven't been to a carnival, fair or otherwise game ridden place in years and the last time I went I don't recall anything cheaper than $2.

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DemonWolf
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by Little_Duck:

Keep in mind when the person running the game is showing you how easy it is to get the wiffle ball into the clothes basket he is always standing at a different angle than you are.

He has also had a lot more practice.

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evilrabbit
Jingle Bell Hock


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quote:
However, I will say that one year at a fair, I won a picture by popping a balloon with a dart. I threw three darts, and IIRC, they were 2 for $1.00. On the third throw when I popped the balloon, the guy said, "Ok, that will be $6.00." When I challenged him on the price, he claimed to have simply made a mistake. I'm sure lots of people would have simply handed over $6.00.
Every carny game I've ever played you had to pay upfront.

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Cervus
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quote:
Originally posted by pinqy:
...The basketball backboards don't have spring, and the size of the hoop is barely greater than the diameter of the ball (plus, iirc, there's a slight angle to the backboard).

[snip]

...there's a trick to all the games that isn't apparent and you need either great skill or luck to win anything worth the amount you pay.

So they're not "rigged" in the sense that you can't win, but they are rigged in that there is a trick/special skill involved for all.

My grandpa once won me a giant stuffed dog (bigger than I was) at one of the basketball games. On his first attempt, he sent the ball directly through the hoop without touching the backboard or sides. A crowd gathered because we'd won this enormous dog, and I bet the carny loved the fact that he could now egg people on because an old man had made it look easy. [Wink]

When I was four, I won a goldfish at a school carnival. I tossed a ping pong ball and whatever fishbowl it landed in (the fish were in the bowls) was the one I got to take home. I named the fish Fred. I don't remember him dying, so he must have lived long enough for me to get full enjoyment from my pet. I remember we bought a new fishbowl, gravel, an aerator, and a little ceramic bridge decoration for his bowl. Since my dad had his own fishtank, he stressed the importance of the aerator so that my fish wouldn't immediately die. (Sadly, I did not have as much luck with the fireflies, lizards, butterflies, and box turtles I also tried to keep as pets during that time.)

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Silas Sparkhammer
I Saw V-Chips Come Sailing In


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San Diego County Fair, 1972 or so. The usual extravaganza, rides, cotton candy, 4-H blue-ribbon animals, etc.

Shooting gallery: .22 rifle. Hit the target and knock the lever up -- twice -- and win a prize.

I am a DAMNED FINE SHOT, sir. I hit the target dead center and flipped the lever right up. The carny reloads me.

The BASTARD reloaded me with a reduced charge round. I hit the target dead center...and the lever didn't flip up. I could feel the difference in the recoil.

I have never spent a single dime at a carnival ever since, and never shall.

BASTARDS. May Cooger and Dark devour their souls.

Silas

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robbiev - singin' off key
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by evilrabbit:
Every carny game I've ever played you had to pay upfront.

In general, you are right. This particular guy saw me take out my wallet to give my friend a few bucks to buy a drink and saw that I had plenty of money on me.

I assume he figued he'd try what he did and just thought I'd go for it. He said, "Pay when you're done. I saw you had money."

He may have also thought I would be more willing to keep throwing until I won if I wasn't having to hand over money each time I threw a dart.

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robbiev - singin' off key
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by DemonWolf:
quote:
Originally posted by Little_Duck:

...standing at a different angle than you are.

He has also had a lot more practice.
Also, sometimes, they do actually rig the game so they can win.

Once at a fair I saw a guy showing a prospective player how easy it was to toss a softball into a tilted basket.


ETA: Little Duck: I haven't gone to a fair or carnival in years. In my case, the $1.00 for two darts was probably 20 years ago.

The catch: when the carny was throwing, there was a softball already sitting in the bottom of the basket to "buffer" the bounce of the softball. As soon as he showed the guy how "easy" it was, he took the extra softball out.

The guy threw the softball, and of course, it bounced right out of the basket.

Few months later, I was watching some show on the Discover or some other cable channel, and they showed that exact same trick being done at some other carnival.

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Every time I see a good looking woman, I think, "0oooh. There's another one I'll never have!"

Corvette. The louder you scream, the faster I'll go.

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paisley claus
We Three Blings


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I remember at the county fair when I was in elementary, my friend "won" a giant stuffed animal. It was the game where you have to bounce the wiffle ball on the backboard and get it into the laundry basket (which is 80% BEHIND the backboard). The carny did it a few times to demonstrate (Yes, it SO easy when you're next to it instead of in front of it!). Then my friend paid for her chance to play. He guided her (put his hand over hers and helped her), and suprise! She won! She remarked later that he really threw it for her. That was unusual. But it made me want to play, so that was probably the plan...

Mr. P had a fair goldfish that lived for about 8 years, but usually they don't last long. Most of the fish at fairs are feeder goldfish that cost $1 for 10 of them.

And last time I went to the county fair, they had anoles in little critter carriers for prizes [Frown]

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pinqy
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quote:
Originally posted by Rebochan Caught The Rain:
Now if I hadn't been so insistent on taking it out of the bowl to pet it, it might have survived...

Thank you so much for letting me know I wasn't the only one who did that.

pinqy

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NancyFancyPants
Deck the Malls


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Anyone remember those chameleons they used to have at the circus? Dead in a matter of days...

I once went to a carny with a date who blew $32 on that bowling ball thing, even though I kept trying to get him to quit. Not only did this kill my opinion of him, it killed my opinion of these games on the whole. I'm convinced they're just too hard to win with skill. There's a large amusement park near my house (check it out), and I have always told my kids, "We're here to ride the rides, not blow money on those games." I give them a set amount of money (maybe $5 each - tops) to play a couple games, then they're done with them.

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Macheath
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by Silas Sparkhammer:
May Cooger and Dark devour their souls.

Silas

By the pricking of my thumbs . . . .

Excellent reference. I applaud you!

Mack da "shadow show" Knife

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Amigone201
Happy Holly Days


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I not only won a game, I scammed the carnie.

It was the popping balloon game with darts, and I was there with my girlfriend. I paid the guy like four bucks, threw some darts, and won a little one. He says "For four dollars more, I'll give you the chance to upsize one or two sizes."

So I took my chance, and lo and behold, I did upsize. Two sizes. I gave the big fluffy penguin to my girlfriend, and off we went.

Twenty steps later, I realized that I had forgotten to pay the guy! What was more, he had forgotten to even mention it. So I ran back, apologized, and gave him his cash. He looked a little surprised, but thanked me for my honesty.

I'd say the sight of my girlfriend cuddling with that big, fuzzy, puffy-cheeked penguin was worth the eight bucks. It was the cutest thing I'd ever seen.

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rocksong
Deck the Malls


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quote:
Originally posted by robbiev - singin' off key:

Once at a fair I saw a guy showing a prospective player how easy it was to toss a softball into a tilted basket.

The catch: when the carny was throwing, there was a softball already sitting in the bottom of the basket to "buffer" the bounce of the softball. As soon as he showed the guy how "easy" it was, he took the extra softball out.

The guy threw the softball, and of course, it bounced right out of the basket.

Few months later, I was watching some show on the Discover or some other cable channel, and they showed that exact same trick being done at some other carnival.

A friend of mine spent a while watching a sideshow and saw something similar. It was some sort of skittles thing: knock over all skittles and get a prize. The carnie would demonstrate a successfuly throw it to get people interested. "Just aim for the gaps", he'd say. (I think it was just 3 skittles in a triangle).

But, when a customer played, he'd "helpfully" demonstrate a successful throw first, then space the skittles slightly further apart when he set it up for the customer, making a successful throw almost impossible. The difference was small enough to not be obvious - unless, like my friend, you watched a few times to work out what was going on.

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Rebochan the Retail Reindeer
Good King Wal-Mart


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quote:
Originally posted by pinqy:
quote:
Originally posted by Rebochan Caught The Rain:
Now if I hadn't been so insistent on taking it out of the bowl to pet it, it might have survived...

Thank you so much for letting me know I wasn't the only one who did that.

pinqy

[lol] Likewise! I thought I was the only one.

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Ganzfeld
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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Most of them don't need to be rigged. The price the carnival pays for the prizes is much lower than the price of one ticket, excecpt for the prizes that are almost never won. So there's no need to rig. Most of the games are a lot harder than they look. I don't call that "rigging". Rigging to me means the carnival hides something from the patrons. I worked for many summers at a place with carnival games (in the US) and most of the games were just illusions in the sense that they were a lot tougher to win than they looked.

Sometimes shooting games had poor guns but usually they didn't have to because whatever you had to shoot was unlikely to tear off completely or whatever it was supposed to do to win.

There were also a lot of games that could be done with practice, such as ring-toss games but that were unlikely for novices to win and anyone who was willing to pay for all the games it would take to get good would easily have paid for many many prizes.

So my opinion is: the prizes are much cheaper (wholesale, of course) than they appear and the games are much more difficult than they appear. No other special rigging is needed.

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christmas tree kitapper
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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I have won at those "pay a buck, pick a color and if you win you get a prize" ones where there is a color wheel they spin.

Also I won at one of those "roll the ball up into holes worth various points" ones -kind of like skee-ball, but that's it.

My stepmother won 2 goldfish once, and they lived for a long time- until one of her cats got them. Knocked the cover off and they were gone.

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Ben Who
Deck the Malls


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I don't usually do carny games unless I see an angle. At one fly-by-night fair, I asked the barker if, before I spent any money on the thing, he would demonstrate to me that the rings in the ring-toss did, in fact, fit over the post. Just, you know, put the ring over the ring toss. Do that, and I'm in. He laughed in my face and then yelled at me to get the hell away from his booth.

I'm a reasonable shot at best, so when I picked up the rifle at the target gallery, it was probably fifty-fifty that I'd actually accomplish anything. However, I had seen a James Bond movie the night before, so, after firing the first round, I said, "Hey, the sights are off!" I had no way of knowing this for sure, of course, or even what that really means, but the barker went pale rather quickly and made some comment that I took to be confirmation.

More recently, I was at one of the rural harvest festivals and a barker all but grabbed my arm on the way by and handed me three darts. No cost, he said, for the first round, just give it a try. I whicked the darts at the balloon. Pop pop pop. He handed me a teddy bear--a rather large one, all things considered--and told me to try again for just five dollars.

He handed me three more darts. Pop-pop-pop--but this time no prize. (In fact, I'm not sure what impelled him to hand me the teddy bear in the first place--I figured maybe it was related to a certain color balloon or some tag that I didn't notice.) "Aw, shucks, kid, too bad, that'll be three dollars, try again."

"No way," I said, laughing, turned around, and walked away--with the teddy bear. (I still have it.) He was yelling after me, but what I thought was interesting was that he didn't yell anything like, "Stop that guy! He didn't pay!" He just shouted "Hey!" a few times. (What was he going to do, leave the booth and run after me for a teddy bear that he probably got in a job lot?) My bear, I won it, fair and square.

I've won a lot of crap at carny games over the years, all of it the stuff they can afford to hand out in exchange for your three dollars worth of darts. Still, where else are you going to get a four-inch mirror with the Aerosmith logo printed on it?

Love, Who?

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paisley claus
We Three Blings


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[lol] We used to get those little mirrors at the county fair all the time!! Those were the prizes for the balloon-dart game, and that's one of the easiest things to win (at that fair, anyways).

Well, that and these colorful walking stick/cane things that you had to throw a ring around. That one was definitely not rigged, just difficult [Smile] But I think I still have a stash of those sticks!!

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invisigoth
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quote:
Originally posted by Amigone201:
I not only won a game, I scammed the carnie.

It was the popping balloon game with darts, and I was there with my girlfriend. I paid the guy like four bucks, threw some darts, and won a little one. He says "For four dollars more, I'll give you the chance to upsize one or two sizes."

So I took my chance, and lo and behold, I did upsize. Two sizes. I gave the big fluffy penguin to my girlfriend, and off we went.

Twenty steps later, I realized that I had forgotten to pay the guy! What was more, he had forgotten to even mention it. So I ran back, apologized, and gave him his cash. He looked a little surprised, but thanked me for my honesty.

I'd say the sight of my girlfriend cuddling with that big, fuzzy, puffy-cheeked penguin was worth the eight bucks. It was the cutest thing I'd ever seen.

[Smile]
thats the coolest thing ive ever heard. but then again im a penguin nut.

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Rebochan the Retail Reindeer
Good King Wal-Mart


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My dad, my sister, and I all managed to win at "Fool the Guesser" one year. My sister and I were fairly young and got (different) guessers on weight, which is incredibly deceptive in children. My father, who's been grey since his thirties, had my mother and the kids stand off out of the sight of another one to see if he could make a guesser think of him as an old man. He won, but the guesser was actually pretty smart and figured out he was younger than he looked. His guess was ten years too young.

Obviously, not letting them cold read you lets you win this. My sister lost at the guesser I won from because he knew we were siblings and used my weight and our close ages to correctly guess hers.

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bufungla
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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quote:
Originally posted by put it in writing:
quote:
Originally posted by bufungla:
Another game had you roll a bowling ball along a track over a set of hills so that it would go over the first hill yet not go over the second (as the first hill was higher than the second hill, you'd either have to have a motor in the ball or violate the law of conservation of momentum).

Actually, I won that game once at a carnival in central Florida. I put a decent amount of backspin on it and it worked. I doubt I could ever repeat the feat, though.
If you can put enough backspin on a bowling ball to keep it from going over the second hill while still making it over the first, you deserve to win the whole damned booth.

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put it in writing
Xboxing Day


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Well, that was the only way I figured it'd worked. Both I and the carnie were mighty surprised.

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and it's 1 - 2 - 3, what are we fighting for? don't ask me, I don't give a damn

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Radical Dory
God Rest Ye Merry Retail Clerks


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My sister's best friend used to be so good at fooling the age guesser. She and her sister got lead poisoning when she was a child from the water pipes in their house, so she was (and still is) very short and looked much younger than her age. At the beginning of high school, she could easily pass for an elementary school student. Her sister is just as tiny, so the judging by the siblings age didn't work. They used to go to all of the weight booths at the fair every year and come out with tons of things.

She's since "filled out" so she can't fool them anymore. Perhaps I should take my sister, though. Everyone keeps saying she looks 15, when she's really 23. Even when I'm standing beside her.

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BluesScale
Deck the Malls


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I once got in to an argument with a carnie for shooting out 4 pegs with 3 shots. I am a fair shot and the range was so short that a pistol would have made for a more interesting challenge. One of the pegs was crooked and I worked out that if I hit it just so, then I could take out a 4th peg even though I only needed 3 for 3 to wind. He was a little peeved

Blues "I suppose that it wasn't technically 100%" Scale

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ertceps
I Saw Three Shipments


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quote:
Originally posted by Amigone201:
I not only won a game, I scammed the carnie.

I actually scammed a carnie too...I was about 10 years old and I got the idea of how to do it while watching the plastic ducks in moving water game(they all had a number on their bottom saying what prize you won)

I stayed off to the side for the longest time while others picked their ducks until someone won the big stuffed animal...while they were picking out which toy they wanted I was studying the duck and noticed it has a small scratch on it's right wing

He puts the duck back into the water and as soon as it came around again I grabbed it...he was surprised but he made a big deal about how two people in a row won the big prize...he was much less enthusiastic the next time I pulled the winning duck from the water...he gave me my prize and me being a greedy little bastard I paid him for another try

This time no matter how hard I looked I couldn't find that duck with the scratch on it again..he finally says to me in a low voice "Give it up kid you ain't gonna find it"...somehow he switched the ducks and the one he put back in the water wasn't the duck with the scratch on it

Oh well I still ended up with a giant stuffed Dalmatian and a four foot long plush snake so I didn't make a big deal about it

Back then I was so proud about how I scammed the game but now I think about it I realize his was one of the few games in that whole fair that was totally honest and I was the cheater

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Nappy Solo
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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And that damned cake-walk at the school carnival is rigged too. There's one less chair...oh, ok skip that one.

One game I haven't heard mentioned is Skee-Ball. I can play that at Chuckee Cheese, or at a theme park, and score in the center hole on a regular basis. At the State Fair, another story. I'm sure the ramps are all NFBSKed up in the final inches before the ball is launched. Some are crooked, slanted, warped. Others are rough at the end. All very slight and hard to spot, but the ball will go crazy on a lot of them. And I really wanted that nice Jack Daniels mirror....

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Virtue is its own reward. But, then again, so is vice....

Posts: 167 | From: Lincoln, NE | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
quiltsbypam
Happy Holly Days


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When the quiltlet and I were at the Saukerkraut Festival this year (for real), a gentleman approached us and asked if we wanted two tickets for fish. He said he won them, and his granddaughter didn't want them. We thanked him, and redeemed the tickets at the end of our evening. She got a regular-looking goldfish, and a beautiful gold and silver one. Goldy (guess which one) died the next day. But Patches is still going strong, and the festival was the first weekend in August.

However, we caught my Mom's cat drinking out of the bowl and, when we took it home, our cat is VERRRY interested. We now keep a pot lit over it, to keep Scamper away from the crunchy center.

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"No Biblical hell could ever be worse than the state of perpetual inconsequence." Beatrice in Dangerous Beauty

Posts: 1816 | From: Cayuga County, NY | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Casey, making hot chocolate
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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I've had mixed luck.

I've tried the rifle and target, and can't do it. I'm an excellent shot (certified as an NRA sharpshooter once upon a time), but the sights are usually just slightly off.

The crane games, though, I used to be a wizard indeed. I could snag that lighter or penknife every dang time.

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"To be or not to be! That is the question! Now, will you answer, dare, double dare, or take the Physical Challenge?" --Mark Summers as Hamlet
Countdown: 177 days and counting... or less. My blog. 14 keyboards owed.

Posts: 5584 | From: Ohio | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Sara
I Saw Three Shipments


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At the carnival that is held every year in my town, Kids who are under 12 are allowed to "play til you win". The prizes are still cheap junk, but if I had a child I'd rather pay $2 to see my child walk away happy with cheap junk than to have to spend $10 and drag them away screaming because they didn't win anything!

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"If you don't have anything nice to say...sit next to me"

Posts: 80 | From: Finger Lakes Region, NY | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Xia
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by Radical Dory:

She's since "filled out" so she can't fool them anymore. Perhaps I should take my sister, though. Everyone keeps saying she looks 15, when she's really 23. Even when I'm standing beside her.

I have a friend who people always guess to be about 12-15 but she is actually 22. I bet she could win one of those games... If any of those guessers got my age right I'd have no problem with not getting a prize, because they'd have to be REALLY good. People usually guess my age as at least 8 years younger than I actually am. Last year, someone thought I was 12. I was 24. [Razz]

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Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

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SiKboy
Deck the Malls


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In the Jerk, Steve Martins character works as a guess your age/weight/sex (your choice) barker at a carnival. He feels terrible because he never gets one right and is giving prizes away left right and centre until it is pointed out to him by the guy running the carnival that the people are paying a dollar each, and the prizes are all worth a couple of cents each. I know that several people have already made broadly the same point, but I love that movie so I thought I'd bring it up.

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This Space For Rent.

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invisigoth
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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hehe. i loved that movie as a kid. loved how he showed off the prizes you could win...
"anything between the chicklets and the erasers, but not the pencil shearpeners, anything in this 3 inches." or something like that. steve martin is funnier then i am though [Big Grin]

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robbiev - singin' off key
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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I wondered if I was the only one that thought of that movie. [Smile]

Robbie -pay a buck, win some crap- V

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Every time I see a good looking woman, I think, "0oooh. There's another one I'll never have!"

Corvette. The louder you scream, the faster I'll go.

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Ms. Kringle
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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My uncle used to be one of the guys you'd see on the midway, selling cheap crap.

He knew every carnie on our side of the Mississippi, and a few on the Western side of the Mississippi, and he never would let us spend any money on carnie games, because they were all rigged.

Why they bother to rig those games over those cheap-ass prizes, I'll never know, I guess because some people will keep spending money until they win SOMETHING.

Carnies hate me. They start their spiel up when my daughter and I are walking by the booths, and I will turn around and say, "I refuse to allow my daughter to spend money on a game that I know is rigged. My uncle used to do this for a living. Consider yourself SO busted."

Oh well, don't try to scam people and expect them to take it lightly!

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Beware corporate zombies! They will purchase your brain on E-Bay!

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Ben Who
Deck the Malls


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The thing is, is that I think some of those barkers are not the owners and proprietors of the little business that owns the shop. My friend in high school ran one of those crap booths (where else can you get an inflatable Spongebob on a stick, and why in the world would you want one?) and he certainly wasn't the owner. I have no idea who owned the booth, but he sat there on a barstool for fourteen or fifteen hours A DAY without a break, selling rubbish like that--laser pointers and keychains made out of .22 shells and those little things that you pick them up and they moo.

The degree of apathy to some carnival barkers has to be seen to be believed. They barely give you a nod, stand back to let you do your thing, and don't even look at you as they tip your newly-won pack of gum onto the astroturf shelf.

Skee-ball: I got pretty good at Skee-ball at the local arcade (though, curiously, I had lost all those hard-won skills when trying it at the fair, though, of course, those balls ARE supposed to suddenly skip to the right when you bowl them straight, right?). The arcade does that thing where the tickets from the Skee-ball machine can be redeemed for handsome prizes at the counter. I did the math on one of the pricier items--a keyboard like this one--and determined that to win the keyboard would take 649 perfect games at a cost of $162.25. The price tag on the one on the link is $99.99 WITHOUT the discount. The house always wins.

Love, Who?

Edited to correct math.

Posts: 404 | From: Portland | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
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