Alibi Stores SIXCAT

A game of skill tnat can be found on almost any midway is one in which the player throws a baseball to try to tut a stuffed cat. Usuallv the player gels three balls for his dollar and must succeed in knocking over three cats to win a large prize, in some versions, the player wins as long as he can gel the cat to fall over. In other versions, the player wins only if he succccds in knocking the cac completely off the shelf. If the cat falls over but remains on the shelf, the pitch is a loser

In most cases, this game is run on the level, b it if the operator wishes to gaff it. Lheie aie many ways ol doing so Some operators use four cats, two of which are weighted The light cats can be knocked off the shelf, but die two heavy cats will only fall over but not off the shell. It is therefore impossible for a player to knock three cats off. A variety of projections can also >e attached to the cats 01 t ic shelf to catch the eats so they will fall over but remain on the shelf.

One sophisticated gaff involves a loose board at the back of the shelf. When this board is pressed against the shelf, the game is honest; it is possible to knock die cats completely off the shelf. However, by operating a foot brake, the glitter can move the board back a couple of inches. This, in effect, widens the shelf so that, no matter how hard the cat is hit, its center of gravity remains within the shelf and it will not fall off. When any of these gaffs is used, the operator might as well nail clown the prizes.

Since rhere arc so many versions of this joint-—sonic honest—il is impossible tor the average person lo lei 1 whether the g3nie is gaffec jus! by looking at the joint from the player's side. 'Ibat's why this is as good a game as any to i.lustrate how you can spot strong joints, not by how the game lxdiavcs, but by how the game operator behaves.

When six-cat is gaffed, it is invariably worked as an alibi store. Not knowing that the game is under the operator's control. Ihe player will be perplexed as to why he sometimes succeeds and sometimes tails, never getting three in a row. This is where the helpful flat tie comes in. 1 Ic is quick to point out after every failure what the mark did wrong This type of grifter is known as an alibi agent Ijccuusc his specialty is always having a plausible alibi as to why the player failed.

I lc?ll explain that you have to hit the eat lower to knock it oil. Off course, that lime you hit it too low You've gut to throw harder. Not :hat hard. He will even give you a practice try to test his suggestions. His advice worki, loo—until you try it fur money.

What you have to realize is that the alibi agent wants you lo win. Ihs favorite pluases are: "I .et rue show you what you're doing wrong/' and. "Try it again; I'll help you diis lime/' He w.U, too. If your problem is that you can knock off two cats but always fail on the third, he will pick up a bascba'l himself and knock ofTa cat. Then he will -urn to you and say, 'Til count thai one for you. If you can just do it twice more for a buck, you've got yourself a nice prize." Of course, tins time the best you can do is one in a row.

Amazingly, most players never wonder why the operator cf a game would want to help them win. But even if you don't ask, the alibi agent may tell von. "I hate llic cheap S.O.B. whe owns this game. He treats me like garbage. i'd much rather sec yon walk away with one of those nice prizes than have him keep it. Conic on, I'll help you win.'

When the alib: angle is used, the plavcr is often motivated, not only by a desire to win the prize, but also by his determination to master the game under the operator's guidance. I can sympathize, since i'm the kind of guy who hates to walk away from a challenge. I usually try to stick to something until 1 succccd I lowcvcr. in an alibi joint, :his attitude can be a passpon to poverty.

Foi llic average players, the Hattie's alibis are an ingenious smokescreen thai prevents the players from seeing that their own actions really have nodiiug to do with whether they win or lose. I lowcvc, now that you know how it works, ihe alibi approach should be a sure Mgn for you that the game is crooked, even if you can't spot the galf

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The fact is that most carnival players can't jCwOgni/e a gaff even when they virtually slumhlc over it. Consider this stonr told to me by a friend who, at one time or anotlier. has worked almost every kind of flat loint there is. At this time, he was in a carnival outside a small midwestern town, working a six-cat alihi joint with the loose hoard gaff. The joint had two setups side by side; while he wor.<cd one sucker, his partner worked another.

Along came a huge, tough-loo.<ingguy with his girl triend. This character was as tall as a basketball player, as muscular as a football player, and as mean looking as a professional wrestler. \ly friend gave him the .standard play and ended up winning all but his last few dollars. Jus: as the guy was about to leave, he stopped suddenly to watch the setup my friend's partner was ising lo flcccc another mark. He stared quizzically for a few moments, then whispered something lo his girl friend a< he pointed to the shell on which the cats stood.

Suddenly my friend realized what must have happened The shelves were set up to be above the players' line of vision. But this guy was so tall he could look down on the shelf and sec the loose board moving back and forth as Ihe ngent worked his victim He must have been too engrossed in playing f.o notice More, but now lie had tumbled to the gaff.

My friend realized thai if this giant of a mark blew, he and his partner together would be no match for him. Surreptitiously, he reached under the countcr and gripped a ball peen hammer, planning to bring itto bear on the mark's head at the firsi sign of violence.

After watehi ig a few moments longer, the sucker turned to my friend and said, "Somebody ought to nail down that loose board you've got back there before this whole placc falls down on your heads.'

Quickly recovering, my friend said, "Uh, yeah, you're right. I think 1 11 take Oiis hammer and go back d*.erc and nail down drat board right now/'

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