The Carnival Game You Can’t Win

The Carnival Game You Can’t Win

Mid July I flew to Edmonton, Canada for a show and lecture to the local club. The guys there were terrific and we all had a great time. (During the show one of the boys told me he lives in Detroit. I responded, “That’s impossible. No one lives in Detroit!”)

However the highlight for me was the first day of my arrival when I went to the county fair, which they call K-Days. As I live in Manhattan I have never been to a classic country fair, with the outrageous food, carnival games, rides, and shows. I got to see Terry Stokes do two hypnosis shows. He was verygood. Though, as a performer myself, I learned a lot watching him struggle to do his first show of the day to about 9 people. We all know how hard that can be – first show of the day, hot sun, no warm-up act, huge room with few people there.

My favorite part of the day, after the deep fried chocolate chip cookie dough (I kid you not), was watching people lose their money trying to knock over three blocks on a small platform.

First tip off that this was a game no one can win was the prizes for this achievement – mopeds. While every other game booth gave out stuffed animals, this one awarded off-road vehicles.

Now to the game itself. Three blocks about six inches on each side, placed on top of each other on a small platform. The goal is to throw a ball and knock all three blocks off the platform. First off, the blocks are the same weight. It didn’t matter what order the blocks were in. Here’s the hard part. The ball is wide enough only to contact two blocks. So which two? If you knock over the top two blocks, the bottom block stays stationary. If you throw through the bottom two blocks, the top block just drops down onto the platform.

I watched people throw balls at these blocks for more than an hour. Same pattern every time. Go for the top two, then switch to the bottom two. Same results. It doesn’t matter if you throw very hard or very soft. I saw all variables. At five dollars a throw, this booth was making big money. Looks so easy, impossible to win, which of course is why it is a perfect carnival game. If you know whether this is a game that can actually be won let me know.

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