11 feet, 11 feet.

It's no secret that carnivals exist to make money

And to do this most effectively, they do a bunch of little tricks

to make you overestimate your chances of winning

in some cases to such an extent

that it’s basically a scam. So I spent a couple days coming down

to this carnival and observing and collecting data

on all the games. So I’m now I’m going to tell

you exactly which games are the biggest ripoffs and the scientific reasons why.

I even nancy drewed how much they actually pay

for the prizes you can win. But there is hope…because I’ll also

show you some legitimate tricks on how to the most popular

games and along

with what happens when you show up to the carnival with your professional baseball playing buddy

who happens to play for the Mets.

Let’s get started!

Any kind of legitimate investigation needs to start with solid data

as the foundation. So with the promise of unlimited churros,

I had some friends secretly help me collect data on all 24

games at the Carnival for a full day. Not only did we collect

how how many times each game was played but we recorded how many

times people actually won each game and what prize they won.

And so the first observation was that based on our data

is tht this relatively small park

this place makes $20k/day just on their carnival

So to help frame the rest of the observations,

let’s divide the games into 3 groups. 1st,

You’ve got your Random chance games-

Games like these that don’t utilize any skills and are basically

rolling a dice. 2nd you’ve got your Skill based games

Like basketball shot or the milk bottle throw or the basket toss

game where if you bring some kind of skill or strategy to the table

you can increases your chances of winning And the final category are

the games that are pretty much Impossible- These ones are borderline

scams. There are 3 games that

lots of people attempted and nobody won, and if they did win

once like in the case of the ladder climb it was for a very specific reason,

which I’ll talk about later.

So let’s start by talking about the random chance games. Calculating

your chances of winning chances here is pretty straightforward. You just divide

winning outcomes by the total outcomes

and you’ll get a percentage. So in this case there are about about 1600

total cups and 160 winning cups.

That’s about 10% chance or 1 in 10 throws

will win. There are a ton of games similar to

this. But catch is they always use balls that are light weight and have a high

coefficient of restitution meaning they bounce really well.

The makes it much less likely the ball will end

where you originally aim it.

To illustrate this point, think how much easier this game would be with

bean bags which are heavier with and don’t bounce.

Any imperfection

in your throw is magnified, which essentially

randomizes things. If you have no skills these

are the games you want to play. But don’t’ get too excited

because even when you win you lose.

I did some investigative work and uncovered the sources they order

their prizes from and discovered even If you got lucky

on your first throw that would cost you $1.50

for a prize that that cost them 45 cents.

But you usually won’t get it on your first try

and treating this as expected value problem it would

take you average

(7/30) 5 tries to land in a yellow cup for a small prize which means you pay $7.50

for something that costs 45 cents.

In the case of the big prize by landing in the rare

gold cup it’s worse and would take an average of

25 tries, which works out to $38

for a prize that costs them $6.

The number of people we observed winning matched up well with these

statistical predictions.Now let’s talk about the

skill based games. One of the most popular

the basketball toss with 825

the day we obseved. A standard 3 pointer is

about 24 feet back on a 10 foot rim.

In this case however, the line is 28ft back on a rim

11 feet high. Which is subtle but if

you have a deadly 3 pointer locked

into your muscle memory you will tend to miss short which is

exactly what happened a bunch. The reason they always have all big sloped tarp in front

is so that someone can’t stand underneath the rim where they height difference

would be much more apparent.

Here again though even if you go Steph Curry

and sink your first $3 shot, you still lose 2.20 cents

because this ball costs them 80 cents Here is another example of getting

you to overestimate your chances of winning by making subtle changes by slanting the table

which will reduce the horizontal velocity after

the bounce so even if you played this game all through college

your previous experience almost becomes a handicap.

This measure your pitch speed game is borderline fraudulent

as their Radar gun registers about 15mph slow.

I know this because I measured the distance and then filmed in high speed

and counted the frames and this pitch was much closer to 84 mph.

For the milk bottle game the only catch here is that the bottles are metal

which makes them more stable and harder to knock down than a normal bottle that size.

I’ve seen some carnivals where they are bottom weighted

which would make them even more stable and thus less likely to tip.

You can ask to hold it use the trick

of balance it on your finger to determine where the center of mass is.

They key to this game is hitting them right here

with a hard enough throw to introduce sufficient kinetic energy

but don’t throw it too hard because we noticed those who threw their hardest

usually compromised on accuracy.

About 1 in 14 of people knocked them over on their first try.

And then finally the basket toss game. The key here is to

have your first bounce hit on the front lip to reduce the kinetic energy

enough so it doesn’t rebound out.

About 1 in 10 people win this game according to our observations.

And now this brings us to our final category of the near impossible

games and there are three of them. On this first one, the goal

is to shoot out the red star with this automatic

bb gun. So the best strategy is to basically shoot

a circle around the start to cut it out. Not only

are the guns not accurate or precise but the bigger issue is

that you start out doing really well because there is enough surrounding paper

so the bb will rip through the paper. But Newton’s

3rd law tells us you can only push on something as hard

as it can resist your push and so at the end there will be barely

supported pieces of the star that just move out of the way

off the bb without building up enough stress

to rip the paper. Out of 120 plays we saw

no one win this one all day This ring bottle game

is also impossibly difficult. Again, it’s a lightweight object

that is really bouncy to encourage randomness

but the actual inner diameter of the ring is really close

to the outer diameter of the bottle. This means any throw

besides this perfect one, will

send it bouncing away instead of settling in on the bottle.

If you really want this bear I suggest going to Amazon and getting it for $47.

I literally can’t even tell you how much money that wills save you because of the 840

rings we saw thrown, none stayed on. Which brings

up a obvious rule of thumb, if you want

to have the feeling of winning a game, don’t play any game that offers

really big prizes. And for the final near impossible

game let me reiterate that for a carnival owner the most lucrative

games are those which the customer over

estimates their chances of success. No game is a better example

of this than the ladder climb. There is a subtle issue

with this game that I think people realize, but don’t internalize the significance.

The ladder converges to be supported on the wall by one point

instead of two. If it was attached in two points it’s like

crawling across a bridge

which is really easy. Let’s pretend this is

you and If you shrunk all the weight of your body

down to the average location which we call the center of mass,

which we’ll mark

with this dot. Again, you know this is the spot

because it balances perfectly. If you draw

two imaginary lines connecting the diffrent support points

and as long as your center of mass dot is

it is impossible to fall off.

But As soon as you center of mass is even a little bit out of the area

of supports you start to rotate and fall off.

If you’ve ever bent over to pick something up

you actually know this fact whether you realize it or not.

In this case the region of support is between the heel

and the toes of your foot. When you reach over you will

naturally move your butt back to keep your center of mass

in between your support points. If you don’t believe me

try picking something up standing against a wall

so you can move your butt back, at the very moment your center of mass

moves beyond your toes,

you tip over. In the case of the ladder game even though it looks wide because of the ladder rungs, it’s only attached

at one point but

even though it looks wide because of the ladder rungs

that area of support reduces down to a line. So

So if you don’t keep your center of mass directly above that line

you will start to rotate and fall off. In other words, to win this game

you basically need to crawl across a tightrope.

And you might think we’ll I can do a slack line so I can do

this but a slack line is actually much easier for 2 reasons

You can flail your arms and legs out to adjust

your center of mass to keep it above the line

of support and your center of mass is higher

up which makes you more stable

In the same way it’s easier to balance this umbrella when it’s extended vs. when collapsed.

So while there are a few videos that say tricks like maintain three points

of contact at all times, they’re basically useless because

keeping your center of mass directly above a line

is just something you need get a feel for that

takes a lot of practice. But once you’ve had enough practice you this is the one game at the

carnival that is all skill. So you can win everytime

and clean them out. Unfortunately, the carnival owner knows this which is why it’s

the only game with this super lame caveat.

So now that we were carnival experts, I called up my buddy Matt Winaker

who played baseball for Stanford and was just recently drafted to play for the New York Mets

So we could maximize the chance of winning any game relating to throwing

So clearly Matt had deadly lock on any throwing game

But basketball is more my game so to finish off

the day I decided to bring his ego back into check

As it turns out, if you are a world class athlete in one sport

you are a really, really good athlete in all sports.

So in conclusion, you should play the games if you think they’re fun

just know that the odds are heavily stacked against so if you

don’t win it’s nbd unlike this dude who lost his

life savings playing carnival games. And if

your motivation is to gain the love and admiration of someone

special by means of a stuffed animal you don’t need a

carnival to do that. Amazon works just as well.

“A little purchse for you ma lady”

Why?

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who were also kind enough to support this video and followed along with

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They have a bunch of different courses ranging from photography to graphic design to marketing

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mind and learn something new. Thanks for watching.