A vintage "Spill the Milk" carnival banner advertised
the game where you try to knock down milk bottles.
(You may enlarge by clicking.)
An article at The Art of Manliness explains the secrets behind state fair / carnival games: the milk can, the rope ladder, the high striker, shoot the star, flukey ball, one ball, and swinger:
Assume most games are gaffed. Gaffed is carnie speak for rigged. Gaffs in midway games lie on a spectrum that ranges from "nudge, nudge, wink, wink" to downright criminal. Most gaffs don’t make the games impossible to win. They just make you work harder. For example, it’s common knowledge that the basketball rims at carnival free throw shooting games are usually smaller than regulation-size and bent into an oblong shape to appear larger in the front. Moreover, the baskets are often hung higher than regulation basketball goals. You can still make a basket, it just take a bit more skill and finesse.
Bottom line, if a game looks really easy to win, assume that something’s been gaffed to make it harder.
Aren’t all these games rigged?
Don’t know if I agree with this view. I think nowadays most carnival games aren’t gaffed at all, since a gaffed game could get shut down and choke off a revenue stream. These games work on a much simpler principle – the operator is more skilled than you are, so it’s going to take a lot of your money to win the game. And if you do win (after spending how much money?) how much did they pay wholesale for that prize?
Want to win at the games? Spend a lot of time playing that exact game, with that exact equipment, until you get good. That’s how the operators make it look so easy to win.
Read the rest: Beat the Carnies: The Secrets to Winning 5 Popular State Fair Games, The Art of Manliness>>
See also this Deceptology post for another game: The Cover the Spot carnival game>>