I love books about pranks, scams, bar bets, and cons. Not because I want to cheat people, but because scams and cons are a fascinating way to look at human nature. Sucker bets reveal our natural tendencies to be gullible, greedy, sympathetic, friendly, and suspicious.
A few books in this genre that I especially like are The Big Con by David Maurer, Pranks by Re/Search, How to Play in Traffic by Penn & Teller, The Big Book of Stuntology by Sam Bartlett, and Tricks with Your Head: Hilarious Magic Tricks and Stunts to Disgust and Delight by Mac King and Mark Levy.
The Modern Con Man -- How to Get Something for Nothing, is another book in the same genre. Written by "America's last sideshow entertainer," Todd Robbins, this book is filled with cheap sucker bets that, if used will win you either free drinks or a punch in the nose.
You'll learn how to:
• Almost always win at the game of Nim (where you dump 20 matchsticks on the bar, and take turns with another player by removing one, two, or three matches from the pile in the hopes of leaving the other player with the last match, making you the winner)
• Tie a knot into a necktie by holding each end of the tie in one hand and not letting go.
• Hold a lit match upside down for 20 seconds without getting burned,.
• Beat a sucker with lots of seemingly can't-lose card and coin tricks.
My 10-year-old daughter loved all the tricks I showed her. Most of these short cons are delightful for both the prankster and the mark, unless they involve large wagers. Perform them at your own risk.
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