I’ve had a long interest in carnival games. I even wrote a school paper on them in junior high.
Here’s an interesting article about how to win, maybe, the most common games. The opening paragraphs:
We’ve all been there in some way or another. Maybe it’s trying to win a prize for your friend or your kids or showing off. Other times the mood just catches someone right and they want to test their mettle, or they were incited by a skillful carnival barker. Still other times, some just have money burning a hole in their pocket and have to have that 50-cent prize, even if they spend 10 bucks to get it.
From the beginning, they’ve been a staple of the midway, and from the beginning they have been confounding, frustrating, scheming, and angering the masses. Amusement park games combine a lot of science and a little skill with psychology, illusion, and cheap prizes, and have masterfully been parting suckers with their money for over a hundred years. For guests, the name of the game is to grab the prize, have a little fun, and win bragging rights. For the park, the name of the game is to simply get you to play, because the beauty of this operation is that whether the guest wins or loses, the park always wins. In the words of Navin R. Johnson, “It’s a profit deal.”