It is nearly impossible to go from one end of a carnival or amusement park to the other without encountering the funny carnival games. Even if you try to run through the gauntlet without spending money, chances are that at least one game operator will manage to hook you with promises of an easy win or a huge prize. All you have to do is knock down a few pins with a softball or climb a rope ladder. Anyone can throw a dart or a dime, right? "I bet I can guess your weight within 10 pounds". "You look like someone who's shot a basketball or two before. C'mon, give it a try. Just a buck." These game operators depend on a good hook to keep their funny carnival games running at a profit.
But what happens after you've been hooked? Depending on the particular game, you have either thrown away your money on a pipe dream or stand a slim chance of getting a prize. So, is it really possible to win carnival games? Some funny carnival games simply cannot be won, in spite of your best efforts. Other games can be beaten, however, if you know their secrets beforehand. Here are some common funny carnival games you may encounter, along with the secret to increasing your chances of actually winning a substantial prize.
1. Plate Toss. This game is usually played with a series of cheap plates placed around a center square. The player is expected to toss a dime so that the coin lands squarely on the center of a plate. What usually happens is the dime slides off the intended plate and into a pit of other dimes. First of all, the plate surface is much smoother than you imagine, making it extremely difficult for a dime to slow down. Your toss must start in a very high arc with no spin or much forward motion. Ideally, it should simply 'die' on the plate. Another tactic is to intentionally deaden the coin's trajectory by bouncing it off one plate and onto another. This is a difficult maneuver at best, but it beats throwing dime after dime directly at plates that are working against you.
2. Guess your weight or birth month. If you have a choice, always go for the birth month. Seasoned guessers often develop a good feel for weight, so you stand a pretty good chance at losing that challenge. Besides, it's their scales, which shouldn't inspire much confidence in their accuracy. You stand a better chance of winning the birth month contest, as long as you claim 'October' as your birth month. Wonder why?
Here's the inside scoop. If the game operator says he or she can guess your birth month within two months, the odds are already fairly good with a random guess. But their guesses are not random at all. In a typical game scenario, the guesser will write down his prediction on a piece of paper, which he will understandably keep hidden. He'll ask you what your birth month actually is. If you answer 'July', he'll reveal his prediction-July. Your friend will go next. The operator goes through the same motions. Your friend's birth month is February. The operator reveals his guess- January. He beats the two month restriction. So where does 'October' fit into this scenario? The game operator writes down the same prediction every time. The scribbled note could look like January, June or July. Depending on which month you reveal as the truth, the guesser can always claim his answer as a month that makes him a winner. With one exception- October. No matter what your actual birth month happens to be, always say 'October'.
3. Balloon Dart Throw. If you really want that cool mirror or other expensive-looking trinket, play the Balloon Dart Throw. The chances of winning are very high, which is why most dart throw games limit winners to one prize a day. The darts themselves are usually a bit dull, and you are trying to pop underinflated balloons. The combination is what usually causes people to lose. On top of the obvious problems connected with throwing dull darts at uncooperative targets, you still have to find the best prizes. Most players aim for the middle of the board, because the odds of hitting a balloon are much higher. But the prizes hidden in the middle of the board are usually small. The really big prizes are hidden in the corners or along the sides. Aim for those areas for a better chance of walking away with a big prize.
4. Ladder Climb. This game appeals to the hidden athlete in all of us. The premise of the Ladder Climb game seems fairly straightforward- climb a rope ladder to the top and ring a bell. The catch is that the ladder itself pivots around a pulley system. Lose your balance just once and you will find yourself unceremoniously dumped off the ladder. This usually happens a few seconds after the thoughtful game operator lets go of the rope. A few minutes later, this same operator will scale the same ladder like a monkey, hitting the bell with style. After you regain your pride and balance, you decide to give it another try. Again, you get halfway to the goal and fall off the ladder. How does the game operator manage to climb without falling? He knows the secret.
In order to successfully climb the ladder, you must forget that it is a ladder. In other words, don't try to climb up the rungs step by step, as you would with an ordinary ladder. Instead, place your hands and feet on the ropes BETWEEN the rungs. If you watch the game operator climb again, you should notice that he does not touch the rungs. Once you've gotten both feet and hands on the ropes, you'll need to move carefully. Winning the ladder game requires great balance. Move one hand up to the next rope section while simultaneous moving the OPPOSITE leg up one section. Brace yourself by putting outward pressure on the rope, never the rungs. Continue moving in this manner all the way up the rope to the bell. Do not move both hands or both feet at the same time- you will lose your balance. Once you master the basic climbing maneuver, you can shimmy up the rope at will, which is why the game operator usually limits you to one win per day.
5. Stand the bottle. You may see this one at an amusement park. The object is to stand a bottle upright on a circular platform using only a 'fishing rod' with a ring on the end. If the bottle falls off, you lose. In general, most people can manage to maneuver the bottle halfway to vertical, but then the round bottom of the bottle causes it to roll off the platform. The game is not impossible to win, but the secret to winning is much harder than it may sound. Here's how to stand the bottle with the fishing rod. First, make sure the neck of the bottle is facing away from you, with the ring securely surrounding it. Next, lean over as far as you can without falling over or hitting the bottle. Think of your fishing rod string and ring as incidental to winning. The most important part of the whole operation is the tip of the rod itself and how you maneuver it. Instead of holding the rod horizontally and then trying to tease the bottle into position, start out by holding the rod VERTICALLY, with the string and ring hanging from it at nearly a 90 degree angle to the ground. Hold the rod high enough so that the string is completely taut and the ring is starting to pull on the bottle. Without changing its vertical orientation, move the rod up and back in a high, narrow arc. Allow the string to pull the bottle along with it. Once the bottle has become nearly vertical, you can pull it into place. In other words, move the stick not the string. Lift the stick almost straight up, then back in a smooth arcing motion. The bottle should be almost directly under the stick the entire time. You'll rarely stand the bottle up by using the traditional methods.