Carnival & Midway Games: Recognize The Scams, Know How To Win

by SharonKurheg

‘Tis the season for local carnivals, fairs, festivals and lots of other events that, at least in the U.S., usually includes soft ice cream, corn dogs, kettle corn, funnel cake, fried stuff on a stick, and “spin and puke” rides. Probably in that order. 😉

When I was a kid, the things I loved the most at the carnival were the games of chance. Whether it was squirting water into a clown’s mouth, aiming a whiffle ball to land in a red cup or trying to break balloons with darts, I was positive that I could beat the odds and win that 3’ plush Snoopy I had my eye on. Unfortunately, although I spent a whole lot of money trying, I never did win that Snoopy. But I did win a working kid-sized blender on a carnival roulette wheel once, when I was about six or seven.

You don’t even have to go to a fair to come across games of chance nowadays – just stop by a theme park and whether it’s Pixar Pier at Disneyland’s California Adventure, the Simpsons/Springfield area of Universal Studios, or the midway at pretty much any Six Flags, you’ll see they have games that separate people from their money with the lure of winning a plush keg of Duff beer or a 4’ tall pink flamingo that sets up house in your guest bathroom for a few months before you get around to redecorating the room (truth be told, neither Joe nor I won the flamingo. I had mentioned to an acquaintance that I really liked the flamingo [I have a thing for flamingos] and she won it for me).


More often than not (MUCH more often than not), nobody wins a thing. Or at best, you maybe win a 6” plush that looks like a Mickey Mouse wannabe. But now, thanks to the internet, at least you can understand WHY you didn’t win. Sometimes it may have been because of your lack of skills, but at other times, they’ve really made the games so they’re nearly impossible to complete successfully.

Here’s a really interesting video that explains the science of how some games are manipulated in such a way so you almost can’t ever win, how to recognize the games that will probably make people lose nearly all the time, and what games are out there where you may actually have a chance to get a prize.


Games of chance are usually a losing proposition, but they’re still admittedly fun to play. If you decide to give it a shot, may the odds forever be in your favor!

Feature Photo: Library of Congress

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


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