Revealing an old carnival scam called "pricking the garter"


Originally published at:


Speaking of pricking…


Carnies have been on my mind a lot recently. I realize now it’s because Donald Trump seems very similar to one.


Nonsense, lad, it’s an event at th’ Highland Games.


Aren’t all carnival games scams?


This game is also the origin of the phrase ‘playing fast and loose’.


Exactly - “if you do this seemingly easy thing, you win”. I’m baffled how anyone can fall for this.


Small hands, smell like cabbage?


I guess the players can’t imagine that pulling on both ends of a belt will undo the loop!

One particular carny game (which is also supposed to be a scam) is “Under & Over”: a huge pair of dice are dropped through the top of a tall box and pop out the bottom. You bet on whether any roll yields above or below “7” and on rolling “7”. Payout was higher if you successfully picked “7”. I played it once at our parochial school bazaar… rather I called the bets for my school buddies who put their own money down; I don’t recall exactly what took place for us to take that approach. Thirteen wins in a row with one roll being a “7”. The guy running the game started staring at me as things progressed. The fourteenth bet lost so I immediately quit. (I lost that ‘feeling’, punctuated later that night by my dropping a case of bottled Coca-Cola down the church basement stairway, me helping out in the bazaar.) One of these days I’m going to have to determine the probability of those wins, although I don’t expect that to be unusually high, although a high probability might sort of ‘justify’ the purported ‘scaminess’ of the game.


This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.