rope ladder climb

How To Beat Different Types of Carnival Games

Tips to win a knock-off stuffed animal or dusty 2LiveCrew vanity mirror next time you’re counting mullets at the fair.

1. Rope Ladder Carnival Game

The trick to climbing carnival rope ladders is to completely ignore the “rungs” and only use the outside ropes to climb on.

While applying equal pressure with your right foot and left arm, move your left foot and right arm uat the same time. Then do the same thing with the opposite limbs — shimmying yourself up the ladder.

Do not move both hands or both feet at the same time – you will lose your balance.

2. Ring Toss Game at Fairs

Snap your wrist as you throw the ring to achieve the most spin possible, this will stabilize the ring making it easier to land cleanly on your target.

3. Balloon Dart Throw Carnival Game

The balloons are under-inflated, and the dart tips are dull. Forget accuracy and throw the dart as hard as you can. Most people aim for the middle, so the game operators will often hide the “good prize” tags behind balloons on the outside edges.

4. Shoot out the Star at Fairs

In this skill game you need to completely remove the red star using a BB gun.

star gameVery hard to beat, even for a good marksman. The trick is to shoot around the star, rather than trying to shoot out the star itself.

Complete the circle and the center of the paper will fall away taking the red star with it.

Also note that the barrels are often bent, and their marks not accurate. Within the first few shots it’s important to gauge just how far off the mark the gun shoots and adjust your aim accordingly.

5. Basket Toss Carnival Game

Lean over to get as close to the basket as you are allowed. Toss the ball gently using some backspin. Aim for the inside upper lip of the basket.

10. Guess your weight, age or birth month at Fairs

Unless you very over-weight or really don’t look your age, it’s best to go with the birth month. Some carnies still use an old scam for guessing your birth month.

guess birth monthIf the carny uses this trick (not all do) they will scribble down something like the image on the right. Does it say Jun, Jul, or Jan? The guesser could claim it be whichever one is closest to your birth month. That wide spread allows the carny to be within 2 months of any month, except one: October.

So if you think you are dealing with a shady operator, always say “October” is your birth month.

12. Coin Toss Carnival Game

The object is to toss a coin onto a plate without the coin bouncing off. There are a few tricks to increasing the odds of winning this game:

1. Use a very high arc, with as little spin as possible when tossing the coin. You can even try tossing the coin right up into the hanging stuffed animals above.

2. Covertly cover the coin with spit before tossing it.

3. Some people recommend purposely bouncing the coin off one plate in order to make a second bounce land on a plate safely.

13. Stand the bottle Carnival Game

carnival bottlesYou are given a fishing pole with a small ring attached to the end of the line. Your goal is make a soda bottle (laying on its side) stand using this contraption.

The trick is to PUSH the bottle up rather than pull it up.

14. Milk Bottle Throw Carnival Game

The bottles used in this carnival game are often made with leaded glasses making them very heavy.

The secret to winning the milk bottle throw is to aim at the base of the bottom two containers rather then at the intersection of all three bottles.

15. Test Your Strength Carnival Game

The goal is to whack the base of this game with a mallet causing a weight shoot up and ring a bell. The trick is all in accuracy and technique rather than strength. A few tips:

1. Accuracy is the key, be sure to hit the center of base.

2. Hold the mallet as far down the handle as possible while still achieving a firm grip.

3. Hold the mallet over your head, arms completely extended, arch your body backwards. Give a few slow motion test swings to judge how far you should stand away from the target to hit it dead-center. Using this method you will achieve the most momentum and still accurately hit the target.

16. BasketBall Free-Throw Game at Fairs

You have a lot going against you in this game. The ball is over-inflated, the hoop is smaller than regulation size and often an oval shape rather than circular. The backboard is plywood making it extra bouncy. So forget about throwing a normal free-throw shot.

The key is to use a high arc. Do not try to rebound the shot off the backboard — the ball will always bounce too much. To win this game you must make a perfect swish, no backboard.

Some of our favorite visitor submitted tips & comments:

Discuss How to Beat Carnival Games on our Boredom Forum

“Coin Toss: Potentially a rigged game. Attendants “clean” plates with silicone spray. To beat that, toss coins in a rainstorm (Game will close if attendant is alert) Plates get sticky.

Skeeball: Good advice below…angle your tosses. By rubbing the side, the ball will come into the target area from more directly above the holes. Gauge the speed to adjust depth of toss.

Baseball Radar Game: You usually get two warmup tosses then one that counts. Instead if firing hard as you can, throw slow. On 2n throw try to throw slightly faster. Guess speed. On third throw faster.

Cat Rack: Instead of firing the ball at the cats. Toss each ball using a fine, gentle dart motion. Aim for the nose of the cat. For three in a row, choose cats that are side by side.” – by Newt


“For anyone interested in the ladder game-the way i do it is to start w/ both legs on a stable rung, both hands 3 rungs up. lower yourself close to the ladder like you’re doing a push-up. Shift all weight onto one leg AND THE OPPOSITE ARM.

Carefully move your free leg and free arm to the next rung, and once they’re in position quickly shift your weight onto them (remember to keep low). Always keep a fluid motion making your way up. it is possible to stop and rest, but only if you have fairly good balance. i’ve seen people walk straight up w/o hands, but that’s a feat I’ve yet to do.

I keep my hands and feet on the outer edges of the rungs. it’s the ‘twist’ to the ladder that gives it some stability. keep your leg locked and almost slide it up the rope.” – by tike

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