How the "scissor bucket" (a rigged carny game) works


13 Responses to “How the "scissor bucket" (a rigged carny game) works”

  1. Alex_M says:

    I agree it wasn’t that clear from the article how it worked, I figured it out:
    You’re supposed to land 3 balls to win a prize. Initially, there’s a damper (the felt-covered disc) against the back, which helps you land the first two shots. Before the last short, the carny raps the bottom of the basket, which makes the damper disengage, and the ball bounces out.

    But the ball still ends up at the bottom of the collection bin under the basket, and when the ball falls down there, it pushes the damper back into place, ready for the next mark.

  2. phisrow says:

    I have to wonder who would be emotionally invested enough to bother emailing angrily on the matter…

  3. grimc says:

    I wonder how many of the angry emailers honestly believe that carny games aren’t rigged, and how many are consciously perpetuating the con. Statistically, there’s got to be some honest carnies, right?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Oh, for the love of all things intert00bz, please post said emails [when privacy etiquette dictates it is appropriate]

  5. Sork says:

    Austin Powers: Only two things scare me and one of them is nuclear war.
    Basil Exposition: What’s the other?
    Austin Powers: Excuse me?
    Basil Exposition: What’s the other thing that scares you?
    Austin Powers: Carnies. Circus folk. Nomads, you know. Smell like cabbage. Small hands.

  6. jaytkay says:

    With the weird cropped shots, the video which is (I think sideways) and reference to a “wooden sphere” which appears nowhere in the images, I find it impossible to understand how this works.

    • Xopher says:

      Yeah, that’s incorrect. It’s a disk, and it acts as a damper. The videos help not at all.

      From reading the article I THINK it works like this: the back of the basket is very “bouncy.” With the damper against the back of it, balls will stay in (so you believe you can make three after making two). Without the damper, any ball that touches the wall will bounce out immediately.

      The carnie bounces the damper away after two successful shots, thus ensuring that the third ball won’t stay in.

      By letting the first two stay in, the marks are persuaded that they can make three, and keep trying.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Remember the carnival game of knocking metal milk bottles off of a table with a 10-inch softball? I worked the game briefly for a carny while I was a lad trying to earn a buck or two.

    Three bottles were stacked on a table; two on the bottom and one on top. One of the bottles placed on the bottom row had a heavy lead weight in it which made it damn near impossible to knock it off the table. I was fired from the job after the carny found out I was putting the weighted bottle on the top row.

  8. Nylund says:

    I got 404′d on the videos when I clicked through to the old post titled “Rigged carny game — secret revealed! (with videos)”

  9. hectorinwa says:

    I had the honor of working this game at the Newton somethingorother traveling carnival somewhere in Brooklyn (normally I worked rockin’ roll-a-ball and yelled at everyone through a microphone)

    I didn’t rtfa, but with ours, there was an additional rule about hitting the rim of the basket. Basically you had to have a certain arc on your throw or it didn’t count. I had the distinct honor of having to tell a 10 year old boy that his seemingly winning throw was actually not. It is a moment I will have with me forever.

    I was later framed for stealing from roll-a-ball by the crooked manager and fired.

  10. Rick York says:

    “There’s a sucker born every minute.” (attributed to Barnum). And, its corollary: “Never Give a Sucker and Even Break” from WC Fields.

    Need one say any more?

Leave a Reply