Tfif Ciothksp1n Joint

Perhaps ihe most popular kind ot peek sf ore is Ihe clothespin joint. It consists of a series of tiered wooden slats vvilh a large number of spring-s:ylc wooden clothespins clipped oil them. Each pin has a number written on it on the side facing away from the players. Each prize carries a tag with a number corresponding Lo one of Llic numbers on the clothespins. The pkyer tosses wooden hoops at the pins and the number on the pin he succeeds in ringing de-em ines what prize In: wins. The game may be operated as a "pitch 'til you win,"7 which means the player is allowed to keep tossing until he gets a clothespin or il may be worked on a tnree-hoops-ior-a-dolla: basis. When the «tore is mnning flnt, it is usually the latter approach.

When the game is crooked, all the big p-tze winners arc three-digit numbers while all the two-digit numbers win slum. The operator periodically shows the players that the winning numbers really arc up there among the other pins; then he mixes several pins around so no one knows where the winners arc.

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Occasionally, in replacing a winning clothespin, the operator wll forget to mix the pins around. The sucker, thinking lie knows the location of one of the trig winners, will invest severa dollars trying to ring it. When he finally gets the pin tie was aiming at. the operator shews him that tie caught a loser, and the player is forced to conclude lie was mistaken about die location of the winning pin.

In fact, no one ever seems to catch a winner. This is because the operator always peeks at the number on the ringed pin as he removed it f-om the slats to shew il to lie player—hence die name pevk slore. I" it is a three-digit winning number, he covers the last digit with his thumb when he shows it to the player. This turns the number into a two-digit losing number. The pin is immediately replaced and several pins moved around, so that, if Ihc player asks for a closer look, the flattie can say he doesn't ¿now where he put it. Players seldom challenge Ihe flattie, however. Although the gaf* is very nervy, the operator is an expert at gaining the trust of Ihe player I have seen grifters who didn't even bother to show the number to the player. They would ■vinply look at Ihe hidden side of the clothespin, call out a number, and replace the pin because of their ingratiating manner, the player never thought to question Ihe call.

After a playei has spent several dollars with nothing to show for it but a whistle, a comb, and <1 couple of plastic toys, the f.attie will point to one of the big prizes and say to the mark, '"'That's my best prize and it's worth thirty-five bucks. If you .get a winner tins time, I'll give, yon forty bucks in cash " This switch Item merchandise prizes. to cash is a key step in many carnival seams. From here on. the flattie can build up the chump by offering ever improving odds. After the player has lost a few times more. Uic operator will offer to pay off one hundred collars if the mark plays at two dollarsthrow instead of one I .¡iter lie will offer to pay two hundred dollars if the suckei bets lines dollais a Lluow.

Recently I saw a razzle joint that displayed only stuffed pandas as prizes. 1 he flatties lured the .suckers by calling out, "Let me give you a free chance to win one ot these for your girl." However, once the mark Degau playing, he was almost immediately switched to cash and the pandas were forgotten. T he flatties ¡mew that the piush was effective for catching the sucker's initial interest but would never be enough to make him bet dollar after dollar until he was completely broke. When a G join I does play for merchandise, it is always veiv expensive. 'Ihe stiong joints aie the best fleshed ¿tores on the midway since none of the prizes are ever given out.

Another common method of raising the sucker at the clothespin game is fhe use of a chart like that used in the razzle. The numbers 011 Qie ciolhes-

176 Gomé>Íjr?¿ Scorns pins are converted into points according to the chart. ()t course, every time "add" comes up, the player must double his bets. By covering01 not covering one of the digits, the flattie can control Ihe game Hie same way the razzle operator does by miscounting.

Shilh Sometimes to build the mark no, the fiattie allows him a free toss, if, in peeking at the number, the grifter sees it is a winner, he places the pin aside without showing the number. He then offers to sell the pin to the mark for five dollars, saying that if it is a winner, he will pay him a hundred dollars. A stick (slull) who lias been watching the game offers to buy the pin for five dolíais. This is usually enough to move the mark to buy the pin. Of course, it bears a losing number (because of the thumb cover move), if the mark declines to buy the pin, the operator sells it to the stick, shows that it is a winning number and pays the slick a hundred dollars This is usually enough to give the mark the encouragement to keep playing.

This is jus: one of the many ways in which slicks are used by Matties to control llieii marks. Chifléis know the value ot peer pressure in maripulat-ing a person's behavior; they provide that pressure through accomplices who pose as players. At the razzle, tor example, i! a player who has reached die nineteen-point mark is reluctant lo continue., a stick may come to rhe rescue. He will approach the mark and offer to buy his nineteen points for a hundred dollars. Ihe flattie will intervene and point lo tire bottom cf the score chart which says. "Points Not Transferable." lie will then tent to the mark and say, "Om you believe the nerve of thai guy? He waits 'lil you're in the home stretch, then thinks he can buy your points for a measly hundred bucks." All of this usually convinces die suekcr he has something too good to walk away from.

A tlattie who has capable supjx>rt can get even the most reluctant player to lose heavily. When a stick sees a proactive victim watching the game but holding back, he steps up and starts to play the game. He then turns to 'he mark with the comment thai he looks lucky and asks him to playa round for the stick. The mark wins—die operator makes sure of that—and the stick collects his prize To show his gratitude, the stick buys a tree play tor :hc mark. As soon as the mark accepts, he is lost. This is known as dvkingin or milling in die sucker. Also., when a mark is put on the send, some griftcrs will have a stick accompany him to keep an eye on him.

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Although the clothespin store is the most popular kind ot peek joint, it is not ihe only kind. Numerous other games require the player to select some item with a number on it to determine the prize. When the game is gaffed, the flattie always peeks first and just shows Lhe player as much of "he number as he wants to, covering the rest with his thumb. For example, one peck joint lound on many midways is the blower. Numbered Piug-I'ong balls are blown out of a machine like those used by casinos in their ketio games and also used lo select winning numbers for the various state lotteries. The game is worked just like the clothespins with all the attendant ploys described above.

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