How To Beat Popular Carnival Games


July 19, 2007   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

It’s summertime and the Carnies are out in full force. In the 30 mile radius around my house, there has to be at least 4 Ferris wheels begging kids to entice their parents to come in and blow $100 trying to win a $2 stuffed animal. Tonight, I decided that enough was enough. I am sharing information given to me by a game operator at a Carnival in Rosemont, IL. Their carnival was up about a month ago.

Here is how you can beat a few of those popular Carnival schemes:

  • The Ladder Game: I have easily dropped $100 on this game over the last 2 years. The trick to beating this game is to avoid touching the rungs of the ladder. Your hands and feet should ALWAYS be on the rope. The rungs provide a false sense of security and in reality, they throw off the balance of the ladder. Just be sure to apply an equal amount of weight to each side. This is still a damn tough trick but this will indeed help. I did it 3 times in a row at a carnival and then I was asked to leave the game.
    • The ole machine gun shooting a star: This game is pretty much BS but we all want to be Rambo right? The ONLY way to ever beat this game is if you shoot a complete circle around the star. Most people try to start at the center and move out because by nature, hitting the center means you have good aim (darts, etc.). In this game, you can forget that. You simply don’t have enough pellets to hit the middle and move out.


  • Basketball Shot: Come on, we all know that rim is tight and the backboard is made of pure steel. The key here is is to, like Jordan, hit nothing but net. A bank shot off the backboard will generally rebound crazily because of its composition. have to know that the rim on these is anywhere from .5″ to 1″ narrower than a regulation NBA rim so you better do a little King James and hit it. If not, you’re cooked.


  • Dart games: If you have your own darts like I do, bring them. Most Carnies will let you use them. If not, just throw the dart towards the middle of the board and use an arc. Don’t aim because Carnie darts are seriously designed to fade fast, meaning they will plummet. Aim high and let ‘er rip!.

Those are the tips provided straight from a game operator at a carnival. If you guys happen to have more info, let loose in the comments.


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