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5 Carnival Games That Are Probably Fixed

Smart Destinations, flickr

They are fun to play, but are you playing for nothing? 

There are tons of school, town and church carnivals throughout the summer. Here are the games I think you should avoid.


It’s probably the most straightforward game on the midway, but the bottles stacked on the bottom are often filled with lead and weigh in at 10 pounds, and the softball you’re given puts an emphasis on soft — they may be filled with cork to make them lighter.


Remember you’re playing with what the house gives you — dull darts (and often ones that are lighter to throw than store-bought darts). The balloons are equally deceptive: They might look ready to burst, but they’re usually inflated to just 30 percent of their full air capacity, making them tough to pop. The reason the balloons are a rainbow of different colors isn’t just to make the booth more alluring — it’s a distraction technique, too.


The basketball hoop rims on free throw booths at carnivals are smaller than regulation hoops and are bent into an oblong shape to appear larger in the front. The basketballs are often over-inflated to give them an extra bounce.


When a carnival worker slides a ring around a pole to show how easy the game is, that’s because the game is exactly that simple — at least from where the employee is standing (usually somewhere where he can just drop the ring from directly overhead, and with a ring that’s wider than the one he’ll give you to toss). The rings are just barely wider than the bottlenecks and are made of hard plastic, so they’re more likely to bounce around than loop around your target.


Bouncing a plastic ball off a vertical board and into a basket is no easy task. What players don’t see is a spring behind the tub that bounces the balls back out.

Good luck! I’ll stick with winning goldfish. I seem to win those every time.

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