The Best Ways To Beat Carnival Games

Have you ever wondered how to win carnival games? With these helpful tips, you can win at carnival games and trump ancient carny tricks. Every summer, colorful lights and the smell of fried dough lure you to a state fair or local carnival, where you just might be tempted to play a carnival game, especially if your heart's set on a giant stuffed SpongeBob.

Before you plunk down your hard-earned cash to test your strength or match wits with carnies in the ring toss, know that the odds are never in your favor. It's like The Hunger Games that way. You'll have a better chance at some games than others, and some (like the one with the bowling pin you have to knock over) are just physically impossible.

Did you know that the game where you use a ring on a fishing line to stand up a beer bottle is probably the easiest to win? Or how about the secret to knocking down the cats in the cat rack? We collected pro tips to help you knock down milk jugs, sink baskets, flip coins onto a plate, and many more.

Step right up and read all about it, then vote for your favorite tip that you can use to win big at your next carnival!

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  • 1
    4,142 VOTES

    Throw Hard When You Play Balloon Darts

    If you want to pop a balloon and win your boo a prize by playing balloon darts, you need to remember a few things. The balloons are under inflated and the dart tips are dull, so throw the dart as hard as you can.

    Additionally, the best prizes are almost always behind the balloons on the edges, since most people tend to aim at the middle.

    4,142 votes
  • 2
    1,869 VOTES

    Don't Use The Backboard In The Basketball Game

    You might be a superstar at dunking in your backyard, but know that the basketball hoops in carnival games are nowhere near regulation size. The hoop is smaller, usually oval-shaped, and the balls are overinflated. To make matters worse, the backboard is rigged to be extra bouncy, so don't even think about using it to sink a shot.

    The key is to use a high arc and make a perfect swish.

    1,869 votes
  • 3
    3,561 VOTES

    Aim At The Bottom In The Milk Bottle Toss

    For the milk bottle toss, know that the bottles are weighted down and extra heavy. In order to knock them down, aim between the two bottles at the bottom, not the intersection of all the bottles.

    3,561 votes
  • 4
    2,505 VOTES

    Ignore The Rungs To Beat The Rope Ladder

    The trick to climbing carnival rope ladders, according to, is to ignore the rungs and only use the outside ropes to climb on. While applying equal pressure with your right foot and left arm, move your left foot and right arm at the same time. Then do the same thing with the opposite limbs, shimmying yourself up the ladder.

    Do not move both hands or both feet at the same time because you'll lose your balance.

    2,505 votes
  • 5
    2,599 VOTES

    This Game Tests Your Accuracy, Not Your Strength

    You don't have to be built like Vin Diesel to win a big teddy bear during one of those test-your-strength games, the ones where you try to ring a bell by hitting a target with a mallet. It's all about accuracy, not strength.

    Hold the mallet as far down the handle as you can, judge how far away you can stand, and hit the target right in the center.

    2,599 votes
  • 6
    2,728 VOTES

    Shoot Around The Star, Not Right At It

    This is one of the most difficult carnival games. According to numerous sources, the way to beat it is to shoot around the star to make a circle so the paper will fall out with the star.

    Note that the gun barrels are often bent, and their marks are not accurate. It's important to gauge just how far off the mark the gun shoots and adjust your aim accordingly within the first few shots.

    2,728 votes