How To Beat Carnival Games - Beat The Bottle Game

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How to win large, stuffed animals at carnivals!

I've come up with a method of teaching yourself a skill that will be beneficial to you when you go to state fairs and carnivals. Namely, how to win at the "Stand the beer bottle up with a ring on a string" game every time. I'm assuming that most of you have already been to a large state fair or carnival that has had this game, so most of you should know what game I'm referring to. I'm also assuming most of you have already tried the various other games that you find there and haven't walked away without much more than a cheap, two inch stuffed "thingy". You're probably thinking, you can never win at those stupid games anyway. Well, I'm going to try and show you how to win at one particular game every time, and explain some of the pitfalls that many of the other games have to "trick" you into thinking they're easier than they seem.

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Let me tell you a little about my success story on winning at what I call "the bottle game". Since I started to practice at home, as long as a carnival or fair has had one, I have never failed to walk out with one of their large prizes. Most of my prizes have been won for under five dollars, a lot were won on the first try, for one dollar! My girlfriend and my mother both refuse to take any more of these large, stuffed animals because they have no place to put them. I've started to sell off my collection at flea markets for $75 to $100 each. The important thing about my whole set-up is that it's FUN being a winner.

I came up with the idea of practicing at home when I was at a carnival with an ex-girlfriend. She insisted that I win her something, but I said that I didn't know how. She took this as an insult, the fact that I didn't want to blow about ten bucks on a futile attempt at something I'd never do. As you know, every male is obligated to win a stuffed animal for his girlfriend or date. If you don't accomplish this, you tend to think that she might take this as a sign of a weakness in your virility. In my case, if I didn't at least try, there was gonna be no nookie that night. Of course I then made an honest attempt at standing up the bottle, I thought I "almost" did it, but failed miserably. I noticed that the guy who worked the game could stand the bottle up every time. I thought, the lucky guy, I bet when he goes to other carnivals he'll win something for his girlfriend for sure. Then I thought, well why not just practice what he does, then I would be set for life! I went home that night and tried to recreate the game for myself. As you can now guess, I've become rather successful at doing this. I've decided that since I'm not going to make a huge financial profit at winning stuffed animals for the rest of my life, I'll write this book to teach other people what I've learned from years of winning at carnivals instead.

Let me now go over some of the other carnival games you might run into or have already tried. I no longer bother with trying to play these games. When I know a prize is waiting for me at the bottle game, I just save my money and blow it on the fried dough.

The small plastic ring toss game

The object of this game is to throw a small plastic ring onto rows of coke bottles, trying to get a ring to land around the neck of one of the bottles. Usually you get about a dozen rings to throw for a buck. This carnival game usually has some large prizes. This carnival game is very difficult, it's basically luck if you get one of the rings to land around the neck of a bottle just right. I've heard that if you spin the rings very quickly, like a Frisbee, the spin will give the ring some stability in landing horizontally onto the neck of a bottle. I haven't tried this, but if you collect a bunch of those rings, you can practice at home on your own bunch of coke bottles. It seems like it would take a lot of time to learn how to do this with any consistency, but it might be worth trying. I'll have to let you know.

Cover the painted circle on the board with the five metal disks carnival game.

This carnival game is pretty rare at carnivals, but it is one of the few carnival games where there is no luck involved, just skill. The object of this carnival game is to cover a circle about 6 inches in diameter which is painted on a board with five gray metal disks that are about four inches in diameter. You've got to completely cover the painted area or else you won't win. The person in the booth usually shows you how it's done. There is only one way that it can be done and that's the way the person shows you. You'll have to see this carnival game to get a better understanding of what I'm trying to explain. If you watch carefully, the trick is to have the inner edge of the metal disks just cover the center point of the large circle. It's not too hard to learn if you spend some time watching the demonstration, but this is where the scam part comes in. Even if you do manage to cover the circle with your disks the way they showed you, they'll come up with all sorts of "technicalities" that you didn't meet when laying down the circles! One example is that I had my palm resting on the board when I started, so I didn't win. I said, "I didn't know that!" Their reply was that they said in their demo, "Do exactly as I do".
After I did it a second time they noticed a paint fleck showing from under one disk. Of course if they did the exact same arrangement in their demo, it would have been a winner. I would stay away from this carnival game unless you are prepared to argue with the person.

Shoot the basketball through the incredibly tiny hoop carnival game.

There are usually two variations to this one. The first one is for a smaller prize, where the hoop is pretty close to you, about four feet, and the carnival game is usually set up inside a booth. It's not too hard but you don't win anything great. The second one is set up with the hoop back about eight to ten feet and it's up pretty high. (Higher than where a regulation hoop should be.) This one is set up outdoors with large nets to keep the ball from rolling into the "sky diver" ride. I talked to a guy who was running one of these carnival games and he said that a professional basketball player from the Boston Celtics had come by that day with his girlfriend and had tried to win a prize. He couldn't do it. Need I say more?

Toss the softball into the large milk can carnival game.

The object of this carnival game is to get a softball through the mouth of a large milk can. There's usually about three of these cans and they are always off the ground a few feet so you can't really see right into the opening very clearly. If you do, you will notice that the actual opening of the can is smaller than the outer rim at the top. This is great if you want to keep a lid on your milk can but not good if you want to toss a softball into it.

Toss your three softballs into the apple basket carnival game.

The object of this one is to get two out of your three softballs to stay in a wooden basket. Let me show you how they get you to blow lots of money on this one. You buy three softballs and you stand there with a look on your face like "this is easy!" You throw the first one in and it bounces out. From where you're standing, it's nearly impossible to get one in because of the angle of the basket. You throw the next one and it bounces out again. This is where the guy who took your money steps in and says something like, "No, no, you gotta toss it in this!" Of course he's standing next to the basket off to the side, so it's much easier to have one stay in. At this point there is now one softball in there so when you toss your last ball, it hits the one already in there. This deadens the bounce, and it stays in. Now the guy who took your money says, "See! What did I tell you? You gotta throw more gently! You got one in!" He doesn't mention that it was his ball that caused yours to stay in, out comes the balls from the basket and more money from your wallet. You can see how futile this is unless you can be lucky enough to get a softball to stay in on one of your first two tries.
If you feel sneaky and are ready for an argument, you can try this. You and a friend each buy a set of softballs. The first person tries until the person who took your money throws one in from the side and stays. At this point the other person who was watching quickly steps up and says, "Let me try that!" and tosses two of his softballs onto the one that's now in there. Get ready with a look of "What'd I do wrong?"

Shoot the star out with the machine gun carnival game.

Don't expect to win anything, but it is fun shooting that air-powered machine gun. Here you try to completely remove or "shoot-out" a red star on a piece of paper with an air-powered B.B. machine gun. I used to have fantasies about owning one of these when I was a kid, but it was a good thing I didn't or else the bird population in my neighborhood would have drastically gone down. The carnival game can be won, you'll notice they display all the winning cards starting from the day they opened in 1952. The hard part about this carnival game is knowing if you've completely shot out the red star before it's brought back up to you from their mini firing range. Any bit of paint that's still on any thread will make you a loser. You can't see this from your firing distance. I've been tempted to accept the fact that I'm gonna lose and try to shoot a stuffed animal in half.

Throw a baseball to smash a beer bottle or plate, knock over a furry thing or incredibly heavy wooden bottles carnival game.

All these carnival games require you to throw a ball and hit something exactly to win anything. I always wanted to know how Roger Clemens does with these carnival games. They always have a metal sheet behind the smash the bottles carnival game which makes a loud sound when you miss. The only point I can see for this is to cover the obscenities people yell when they fail. The rows of furry animal/pins are very deceptive because the fur makes the targets look a lot bigger than they actually are. If you're a good shot, good luck, but I can't even throw a football right.

Throw a dart to hit a very thin paper star, small painted apple or just break a balloon.

All these carnival games require that you can throw a dart very well. I've played darts with some really good dart throwers in assorted pubs and all of them pretty much agreed that they wouldn't win anything at those carnivals because they couldn't use their own "professional" darts. What they make you throw are darts that are in pretty poor shape and they feel nothing like good darts. You'll eventually win something if you throw enough of them but the prizes for these carnival games usually aren't that great. Who wants another mirror with a rock group on it anyway?

Throw a dime onto a glass plate or a red circle carnival game.

The first variation of this carnival game is to throw a dime onto a plate or in a glass to win that item. It's pretty easy to win a glass cup because the dime will stay in most of the time. The really interesting prizes like an oil lamp are covered with a tiny glass plate. Trying to get a dime to land on a tiny plate and stay there after you've thrown it is next to impossible. The forward momentum just skids it right off. If you were able to drop a dime straight onto the plate you might have a chance, but from where your standing you usually don't have enough space above you to arc the dime that high.

The second variation is to throw a dime onto a red spot about the size of a half dollar. A large playing field is usually covered with these. The dime must be completely in the red to win. You can also win if you can knock another dime into a red area. Your chances of winning are greater if there are already lots of dimes on the board, this gives you more things to knock around. From time to time the person who takes your money "sweeps" the board clean of dimes. The more they clean off the board, the harder it is for you to win. The trick here is to wait for a lot of dimes to accumulate in one area, then throw into that area. This is still not a guarantee that you'll win.

Bounce a ball off a board into a basket carnival game.

The object of this carnival game is throw a plastic ball towards an almost vertical board, have it bounce off and then drop into a basket below. It looks easy but that's not the case. Like the softball into the basket carnival game, there's usually a person there who is so "helpful" in showing you how it's done. Of course they're standing next to the board, so when they throw, it barely brushes by the board and lands in the basket. It's much easier from where they're standing. When you throw the ball, it hits the board straight on and bounces straight back at you, overshooting the basket below. A lot also has to do with how far out the basket is from the board. If the basket is farther away from the board, it's easier to get one to drop in, if it's closer, they've probably lost too many animals that night and don't want to give too many more away. The only way of winning is to have the ball just glance off the board so it drops straight down. I've seen people win by tossing very gently, but not often. I haven't done allot with this carnival game, but it seems to me that if you either try spinning the ball very quickly to get it to drop off the board at a steeper angle, or getting down on one knee and throwing the ball in a higher arc so it hits the board with more of a downward motion, you might have some more luck. You could easily set this carnival game up yourself and try a lot of different things to see which works best. The prizes they give out are usually pretty large so it would be worth the effort. If you figure it out then you can write that book.

Shoot the water gun to make a balloon pop on the rotating clown head carnival game.

With this carnival game, a row of people play and each gets a water pistol. The object is to be the first one to fill their balloon with air that's mounted on top of their clown head. You do this by firing a stream of water into it's mouth. O.K., I haven't decided yet and there seems to be no universal agreement. Does a new or old balloon break any quicker? I've noticed that I rarely win twice in a row. One thing that I've always done is to get ready before the starting bell sounds. Squeeze the trigger early, line up your shot, and then wait for the bell.

I've talked with a bunch of these people who work at these carnival games and sometimes they'll tell you which guns work better than others. Or you can hang back for a while and try to see if one gun wins more often.

As you've probably have noticed, most of these carnival games require you to throw something to win. I think the second you have to toss an object, you lose a lot of control over your outcome. Flying objects are much too random to have your money attached to them. People do win at these other carnival games, but I think a lot has to do with just luck.

Other than the metal disk carnival game that I mentioned, which is purely skill except your outcome is "judged" by the person who took your money, most carnival games cannot be beat with any consistency, except one. That is the stand-up the beer bottle carnival game.

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