Any kind of fiat store in which the player anives at a series ot numbers which the operator totals up to determine, whether he has won or lost is called a count slvm Ovei the yeais, one particular kind of count store has proven so phenomenally successful in swindling suckers thai it has set the pattern for all the others. I'hat game is the ra.zzlc, undoubtedly the all-time champion moneymaker of gaffed carnival games. To understand how it works, let's accompany a -ypieal carnival goer who has just arrived on the midway.
Mike has abort eighty dollars on him lie figured that would be enough to enjoy the carnival and still have some emergency money left Since he has just arrived, he has been walking around, checking the attractions, and has spent hardly any money yet. As he walks along the crowded midway, he passes a skinny old man handing out tickcts to passcrsby. I le gives one to Mike and tells him that it's good for a free play at the booth right behind him. Mike has been to Las Vegas and knows that some casinos hand out free play eon pons to attract business, so he isn't loo surprised to find an enterprising carnival game operator doing the same. He decides there ii no harm in using the coupon If he shoulc lose, as he knows he probably will, he'll quit without spending any money on the game.
The first thing Mike notices wiien he approaches the booth is dial the prizes displayed are more impressive than he has seen at any of the other booths. They consist of portable color TV sets, stereo systems, cameras, vidcorecorders, and elegant watches. Kaeh priz.e has a round luggii.ge lag attached which bears a two-digit nimhcr in red magic marker. Mike also notices several signs posted at the back oi the booth. One reads, "One dollar per prize." Mike certainly thinks that risking one dollar to win a color TV is a reasonable gamble. Auolhci sign reads, "Do not stand behind or annoy players." a consideration :hat VIike appreciates.
I'here :s a wooden railing almost a foot high across the front of the counter which makes it impossible to see what is on it until one steps ligh" up to il Wooden railings also divide the counter into four couipaiLiiients, each with its own operator. Three of the compartments arc occupied by players. An attendant at the empty compartment calls Mike over and takes his free play coii|x>n. "it's a very simple game. You just roll diese marbles
16-f ! Gambling Scarry
onto lhc board and, if you get the ngh: number, you win one of these prizes." he says, pointing behind him. "Which one do you want to plav for?"
Mike is now close enough to see that there is a board on the counter which has a large number of small holes for marbles, somewhat like a Chinese Checkers board h'aeh indent:]Hon is marked by a number from one to six. The operator drops eight marbles into a dice cup and hands it to Mike. Mike decides he wants to try for the TV set. When he rolls the marbles onto the board, the operator quickly totals the numbers otthe holes they lane in as he drops the marbles back in the cup. 'Tlhrty-cight." he announces. "What does thirty-eight1 say on the chart?"
For die first time, Mike notices a small chart lying next to the game board. It is divided into squares bearing the numbers eight to forty-eight in random order. Sortie of these numbeis are in icd and have point totals listed under them like "three points" or "one point." Other nnmhers are marked "extra prize." Still other numbers are in black: these have nothing written under them. When he locates tliirty-cight. he sees that it is a red number and is marked "five points."
* that's a heck ol a start," says the operator as he writes the number five on a pad ofpapei. "When your score totals twenty points, you win the'IV. Wane to give it a try for a nick? Rememher. it's one dollar per prize "
Crooked Carnival Canw i /(¡5
Willi a five-point free stm t, Mike is willing to risk a buck He lakes out his eighty dollars, peels off ¿1 single, and hands it to t ic operator. lie rolls again, and when the operator cheeks the total, he finds that Mike has another point.
Eagerly Mike tries again. This time, when he looks up his totel on the score chart, it is a black number which scores no points. Mike is not too discouraged. Ai; the operator observes. ' If all the numbers were winners, I couldn't afford to run this game."
On Mike's next try, he scores another two points tor a total of eight. ' I lie next three rolls yield non-scoring black numbers, and Mike is out six dollars I he next time, Mike gets twenty-nine, a total that is marked "extra pri7e" on the score chart. "Let's see what you've got coming," says Ihe operator.
They scan ihe back of the boolh and find that the number twenty-nine is written on the tag attached to a stereo system. The operator explains that when Mike succeeds in scoring his twenty points, lie will not only win a TV set, lie will also win the stereo as his exlra pri/.c. K icouragcd by this turn of events, Mike lakes out another dollar to play. "Wait a minute," says ihe operator. "This time you have to bet two dollars. Don't you sec the sign? 'One dollar per prize ' You're playing tor two prizes now so you have to bet two dollars."
After fifteen minutes of playing, Mike has scored nineteen points He is now betting four dollars per roll hccau.se when lie wins he will gel four different prizes, a TV. stereo, microwave oven, and vacuum cleaner. He has only about thirty dollars left but, at the rate lie has been going, lie is sure that will be enough to score the one final point he needs. As die game operator observes, "At this stage, there's no way you can lose unless you walk away, drop dead, or lose your nerve." .Vlikc has no intention of doing any of those tilings.
But Mike's luck seems to have turned. Try afle; try brings up only non-scoring totals. Vlikc keeps thinking about trie relative ease with which he scored the first nineteen points, lie is certain the next try will give him that one point he needs to send bin home laden with treasures. Bu: before he knows it, he has no more money !efl to play and has to leave the game-without that last maddeningly elusive point
WTiat Mike never realizes is that no one ever succeeds in scoring that last point needed to win. The ra/./.lc :s derived from a nineteenth-century con game called the eight-dice game, also known as Banco. When you consider that die name of this game gave us the modern word "bunco," you can i f)?i : Ca,nl:hm( Scams so emotionally committed, he will not listen to reason. I he only hope is 10 educate people before they find themselves in such a situation That's what this hook is all about.
The Oddfs hi looking over the score chart, the player can see that more than half the totals award points The flattie is quick to point out that ibis means the player has better than a fifty-fifty chance of winning that last necessary point on the next roll. Ihe fallacy of thi.s logic can be illustrated by using a simple proposition bst as an analogy. Suppose you rolled a pair of dice and every time you rolled a two or a twelve you won, while every time you Tolled a seven 1 won. 1 might argue that you had the edge since you have two chances of winning to my one. (As an example, the appeal of the field bet at crap» is based on just such faulty thinking.) 1 lowcvcr. any crap player would know that I had the advantage since there are more ways of rolling a seven with two dice than there are ways of rolling either two or twelve.
The razzle takes this same point much further. Since there are eight marbles and the holes on the board arc numbered from J to t, the player may total anywhere from 8 to 48 on a roll. Ihe totals that score points are the lowest and highest numbers. These are the most difficult to roll 'Ihe totals in the middle range do not score. Yet these arc the totals that will come up much more often than the very high and very low numbers, for example, totals 8 and 48 both score points on the chart I lowever, die odds of rolling an 8 are 1 in 1.679,516. The same is true of rolling 4S. By contrast, 28, which does not score points, will turn up once in every twelve rolls The numbers on the chart are mixed to disguise the fact that only the lowest and highest totals score points.
Actually, the player's chances are eve n much worse than indicated above. Those calculations were based or the assumption that the razzle board contained an equal number of each digit from 1 to 6. In tact, the board contains many more three and fours then ones and sixes. (Again, the random oider djsyin.ses this fact.) This u a Ices i: even more difficult to score the: vers- low and very high totals that award points. It's like playing that dice proposition bet referred to earlier with loaded dice which produce more sevens and fewer twos and twelves.
A couple of'yeais ago. when the Oamblius- Sub-Unit of the Ffil Laboratory in Washington, D.C. mathematiea ly analyzed a typical la/zle chart and board, they concluded that it would :ake an average of 6,011 rolls tor a player to win. At one dollai a 'oil. it should be obvious that no player is going to have tin- economic resources to win. Nor would it be much of a
Croa&id Carnival Games / IW
victory lo pay over six thousand dollars tor a TV set. Considering that some of the rolls thai are bound to come up force the player to increase his bets beyond die one dollar scarfing point, the cost of winning would be still higher.
Mtfcormimg In light of the mathematical properties of the razzle board and score chart, it is easy to understand why the -nark tails to score that needed twentieth point. The only question is how does he manage to score the first nineteen points? The answer is simple: The operator cheats. He occasionally miscounts as he removes the marbles to give the sucker a false total which award points. This might seem like a very crude and obvious ploy, but it we examine the technique more closely. 1 think you'll realize it's virtually foolproof.
'Ihe first time the flattie miscounts is on the mark's free play. At that point, tin* victim is not on his guard since lie doesn't have any money riding on die game. After that, the operator has to miscount only Oceas ion ally-when he wants the mark to score points. Most of the time, he can add honestly.
The grifter always adds the numbers very rapidly. Since he removes the marlilcs- from flic board as he adds, there is no evidence of the fraud left behind. Some operators keep the: board turned around toward them so the numbers are upside-down to the player. That makes it even harder for him to follow the flattie's addition. Also, since the holes and numbers are crowded close together, the player of'en isn't sure whether it's the number above the hole or the one below it that applies to his marble.
If a player objects to the speed of the count, the razzle man has his spiel ready. "Vlister, I'm not here to cheat or deceive you. Bui you have to understand diat 1 do this every day. I've gotten so I can add very last and it bores mi: to add slowly. 1 always add fast, but I always add right. If you don't trust my count, you can double-check ii next time."
This time the operator adds and announces the total very rapidly without removing the marbles, then allows the player to check. A couple of experiences of slowly double-checking the flattie's fast count and corning up with the same total satisfies the mark.
The operator can even allow tin: mark to help him calculate the total when he cheats. Let's assume tire player rolls a 6. 5, d, 2, 1, and 3. I rom long experience, the operator can tell almost as soon as he looks at the board that the toral is >0 If he wants tn miscount it as 2.9. he proceeds as follows: Very rapidly he picks up the marbles as lie announces, ''Six, nine,
Iff) : t.¡ambling Scams thirteen, seventeen, twenty, twenty-one." All of this goes by much too last for the player to follow. Then, slowing down, he points to the next ball anil says, "And four is? ..." as he looks at the mark.
The player is caught off guard. After thinking a moment, he says. "Twenty-si* '
Pointing to the last marble, the operator says, "And three is? . .
The mark answers. " Twenty-nine."
"Okay," says thegrifter, "look up twenty-nine on the chart and see what it says."
The mark is left with the feeling that he arrived at the total himself. Iliis is a psycho ogically very disarming ploy which has to be seen in operation to be truly appreciated. Through these techniques, the operator manages to get die player's confidence to the point where he would never dream of questioning cither his accuracy or his integrity.
Finally, keep in mind that, in most cases, the flattie miscounts to make the player win points. No one is likely to Ix." suspicious as long as he is winning. It's only when the player keeps failing to score tlia: he might want to check the count and, on those occasions, the grifter has totaled honestly. Of course, in the extremely rare occasions when a mark docs score that needed twentieth point the operator will miscount to keep the sucker from winning.
The flattie miscounts at will, not only to award the mark the points that encourage him to keep playing, but also to make him increase his bets whenever the grifter wishes.
Add, Raise, or Doubte When the game is played for cash rather than prizes, as il very oflei is, the standard way of forcing up the player's bets ts the use ot one or more numbers on the chart marked "add," "raise," or "double." The operaloi ncvci explains what this means when ihe mark starts to play, and the mark invariably doesn't ask. When the operator wants to raise the sucker, be miscounts to come up with one of these totals and directs him to look it up on the chart. When the mark asks what double means, the flattie explains, "Why, that means that from this point Oil you're playing for double the original prize. Instead of a fifty-dollar jackpot for whatever the sum may be), 1 have to put up a hundred dollars. Of course, you'll have to bet double each time from here on to keep playing."
'Ihe one-dollar bettor has now become a two-dollar bettor. The flattie will pull Ibis stunt on the mark as often as lie feels he can get away with it. The doubling approach has die advantage that it inflates the sucker's bets much faster than the one dollar ]>er prize technique. Totals twenty-eight or twenty-
OixiW Cfl'wti/ Cif.-riftv ; I'/l nine arc invariably used as "accl" numbers since these are the two numbers tlial llic player will legitimately roll most often.
You might wonder why players don't quit the game after having lost only half their money, particularly when the cost of continuing to play keeps escalating. Actually, the more the mark loses, Ihe more incentive he has to keep playing. Someone who has lost tluee or four dollars at the game could walk away without giving another thought to his loss. At this point, he still has no real stake in the game. However, someone who has lost fifty dollars must face the fact that if he quits now, that money will have been wasted All his fifty dollars lave bought him are a certain number of points in a game; if he walks away now, those points will be lost 'llie only way he can justify his financial loss is by continuing until he wins the grand prize.
[J. P. Another standard feature of ra/zle score charts is a number marked H P. When Ihe mark starts playing, he has no way of knowing what these initials stand for. which is just the way the flattie wants it. When the player yds an 11.P. or the agent makes him get it through miscounting—the operator can interpret H.P. as standing for "half point'' (a half point added to the player's score] or "house prize" (a cheap plaster toy or odier piece of slum given lo the sucker to placate him). Some charts also have numbers with vague labels like "bonus," or "free." Here again, the terms are open to several interpretations. Like die II.F.. these are all weapons the flattie lias available to allow him to ma.ee up the rules as he goes along and control the direction of the game any way he wants.
Variations The three essential features of any count store arc a means by which the mark arrives at a numerical total that can be miscounted. The chart is used to convert that total into a point value, and the built-in feature automatically forces the player to increase the size of his bets. Though many variations are found in all three elements, these aie purely superficial differences They don't alter the fundamental working of the scam in any way.
For example, instead of usiiie; the Chinese Checkers type board I described. some flatties use a larger homemade version. I he gri-ter buys some nmfliri tins the kind thai hold twelve muffins in three rows of four. lie places tour of these tins together in a rectangular shape. Then he uses a Magic Marker to write a numbei from one to ;>ix next lo each oi the indentations. The mark is given a bowl containing eight Ping-Pong balls which he tosses up so they land in the numbered indentations and the agent totals the score. This makeshift setup saves die operator some money but doesn't change the game in any way.
Another common approach is to use eight "rolling logs." These arc six-sided wooden pegs about three inches in length, each -side bearing a number from one lo six. The player cither rolls these pegs or places them upright and knocks them over en masse and the operator totals the numbers lying on top. 1 his is essentially the same as having the mark roll eigh: dice out of a cup. In fact, a few operators still use dice as in the old game of Banco.
Another variation is the use of a small rolldown board At tbc far end of the board arc eleven slots numbered >, 6, 2, 4, 2, 3, 4. lr 6, and 3 from left to right, from his end of the board the player rolls eight marbles so they travel across Lire board and eventually come to rest in the numbered slots.
Yet another variation is called "color darts.' The player throws eight darts at a target composed of many small squares bearing munl>ors 1 through 6. the squares arc so small that skill at dart throwing doesn't enter mio the picture. The selection or the numbers is still a random process. Naturally, there are more three and fours en the target than cnes and sixes The operator goes further still with a rule that any dart landing on one of the lines between the numbers counts as a 3 or a 4.
In actual operation, all these setups yield the same results. The point chart makes it almost impossible to score. When the flattie wants the sucker to score in order to build him up, he miscounts as he removes the Ping-Pong balls from the muffin tins, picks up the rolling logs or dice, oi removes the marbles from the rolldown board or the darts from the target.
Similarly, minor variations can be found in the seorccards used Instead of needing twenty points, the mark may have to score only ten points to win. The points awarded on the scoiecard will be adjusted accordingly Some scorecawK have a football motif. They award "yards'" instead of points and require that the mark total 100 yanks to score a touchdown and win the prize. Other cards have a baseball theme. The red numbers award hits and runs, while die black numbers are strikeouts. The player must get his men on base and bring them home to win. Still other cards refer to an auto race and award miles until the player wins with 100 miles. All of this is just window dressing; it doesn't change the operation of the scam in the least. The sucker never gets his ten points, scores his touchdown, hits a homer, or wins the race, but he comes agonizingly close and leaves with the conviction that, if only he'd had a couple of dollars more, he would have been a winner.
Instead of keeping .score on a pad, sonic dallies have a wire running above the razzle board with twenty beads strung on it. This is used as a score-keeper, like a miniature version of the way score is kept in pool halls. The beads start bunched up at one end. Every Lime the player scores a point, a
bead is moved lo Ihe oilier er.d oi the wire until there is just one lonely head left to go. This is a beautiful psychological touch. The beads offer a constant visual reinforcemcnl of the mark's apparent success and a reminder of how little he has to go to win. As such, they consrantly feed his building excitement.
Some charts also have a couple of minus point totals. After the mark has nineteen points and needs only one more to win, die operator may decide to miscount him into a total marked "-1 point." Now he is back to eighteen points and has to spend some more money before the operator allows him to get back to nineteen. In charts that have them, the mines points offer one more tool the flattie can use at his discretion in the process of manipulating the .sucker like a puppet on a string. It helps him keep flic mark 011 an emotional roller coaster that makes him completely vulnerable to outside control.
/»si for i.auj>hs Sometimes', it things are slow, a good razzlc agent will play a mark for laughs to amuse the other agents or friends who may be watching. On one occasion. just before closing, a drunk approached a razzlc score-run by a friend of mine and asked how the game was played. The agent decided to have some fun lie offered the mark a free play and dien miscounted him to a - I point tula".. :'Oli-oh." saiil my friend, "you know what that means, don't you?:"
The diuuk slated back with Lightened eyes and shook his head. 'That means you owe me one point. You can't leave here until you pay me back diat point. It'll cost you a dollar a pi ay, ' announced the flattie.
Dutifully, the mark .landed over a dollar and tried again. His score can c up a blank. Again ,:nd again, he tried without success. 1 don't think he cared about the money at all. but he was getting more and more worried as to whether he would ever be allowed to sec his family and friends again.
Finally, alter he had lost about twelve bucks ar.d those of us watching could hardly contain o.ir laughter, my friend let his inebriated mark off the hook by miscounting him into a 1-point total. He announced to Ins victim that the slate hac been wiped clear and he could go unless he wanted to play again.
With a look of infinite relief, the drunk walked o t as last as he could, "dent on making his getaway before the razzle agent discovered lie had made a mistake and the drunk would have lo keep playing. This poor guy actually thought he had stumbled into some kind of indentured servitude ^'herein lie couldn't leave until he had paid off his 1-point debt. Whiter I'm Sl-ire my friend could never have pulled such an outrageous scam on a sober i74 : Gambling Scam player, it was really only a short slop beyond the almost total control 1 have often seen flatties evert ovt:r sober and intelligent murks at this game.
The Real Secret. The real secret of the razzlc cocsn't lie in I he mathematical properties of the razzlc board or the .score chart or even in the technique of the miscount. These arc merely the tools the operator uses in manipulating his mark. The key to the success of this seam lies in flu- skill oi Ihe grifter in knowing how to apply just lie lighl stimulus at jusL die right point to keep his victim dancing on a string.
It is the juciicious use of the earro: arid the stick iu the form of the miscount to score points for the mark and the miscount to make him add lo his bet which keep the sucke." parting with Ins money and eventually bring him to the point where lie is in the chair. This is the term carnics use to ¿escribe the emotional fever pitch the mark reaches when he has .scored nineteen points and has to move onlv that one final litUc red bead Co win his TV set. stereo, or fvc hundred dollars in cash. Like a man on a hot scab he can hardly keep still. He knows the nevt bet will do iJ, or the next, or the one aflci thai And if not those, then certainly if he runs home and gets another two hundred bucks, llvat has to do it.
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