By Carrie Mah
Are you one of those chumps who plays carnival games to win something? There are some decent prizes this year at the Stampede! Instead of relying on luck, or getting roped in by the carnies, here are some tips you might find useful.
Games aren’t impossible to win, otherwise no one would ever win the jumbo prizes. But a lot of games are rigged to make it harder.
Watch before you play
Ask the carnies to show you how to play and mimic their technique. Ask them to stand in a reasonable position (not behind the foul line) and use equipment that you can use. Also watch other people play – learn from their mistakes, and imitate the winners.
I’m gonna start with this one because I actually won enough games to get the prize I wanted. This game’s all about trading up, so if at first you don’t succeed…try, try again. At Stampede, there are two places for this game: one that costs $1 and another that costs 25 cents (across the Bell stage). It took several times to get the feel of the ball, but the technique is to gauge how it feels when the ball is thrown too hard, and too soft. You need to find a happy medium so that the ball slows down at the top of the bump.
Snap your wrist when you throw to achieve the most spin possible. It will stabilize the ring and make it easier to land cleanly on your target. Your goal is make it land flat.
Balloon Dart Throw
Balloons are under-inflated and dart tips are dull, so throw your hardest!
Shoot out the Star
Using a BB gun, remove the star by shooting around the star instead of shooting out the star. If you make a good circle, the star should pop out. The barrels are often bent, so test a few shots before going at it.
This game usually has the big stuffies: you try to throw a softball in a tilted plastic/wooden basket. Position yourself as close to the target basket, and use a bit of a backspin while gently throwing the ball.
Lean as close as you can to the board, and make sure you’re using the same ball as the carnie. Heavier balls are advantageous. Toss the ball as lightly as possible to graze the board with it. Also add some front-spin to the toss. One technique is to toss the ball as high as you can; on its descend you want the ball to graze the middle of the board. The other technique is to graze the top of the board as the ball is going up so that it arcs back down into the basket.
These basket rims are often smaller than regulation and oblong to make the front seem larger. Don’t throw it like a normal free-throw shot; use a high arc. Avoid rebounding the shot off the backboard as it will bounce too much.
Stand the Bottle
Using a pole with a small ring attached to the end of the line, the goal is to make the bottle stand. Instead of pulling it up, push it instead. The bottles are designed where the heavier side is the one you’re required to lift, and the other side is light.
Milk Bottle Throw
These bottles are heavy and stand on weird tables. Aim at the base of the bottom two bottles rather than the intersection of all three bottles. Try to avoid the setup where one of the bottom bottle is slightly ahead of the other. Watch out for the setups have where one bottle is heavier than the other two — if the carnie is doing a demonstration, he might put the heavier on top so that he can win.
Instead of firing the balls at the cats/clowns, toss each ball using a fine, gentle dart motion. Aim for the nose, and choose cats/clowns side-by-side for three in a row.