The Biggest Scam At The PNE

100th Annual PNE

Like most fairs, the PNE is filled with midway games where you can try your luck at winning some big stuffed animal that will just end up collecting dust in the garage. Most of these games are nothing more than games of chance with the odds stacked heavily in favor of the house. However, a few are just are just out right scams.

Take for example, the simple basketball free throw game. It looks simple enough, sink a free throw and win a stuffed monkey in a banana. Look at it more closely and you’ll see the chances of winning are next to zero.

The basket is placed much higher than a regulation NBA basket. This throws off the free throw expert because they’ll need to toss the ball at a much higher arch than they’re used too. Assuming they adjust to the arch, they will encounter the next obstacle: the hoop.

From the shooting position, the hoop looks like a normal NBA hoop. Look at it from the side and you’ll see that it’s not round, but oval. While you may have normal left to right leeway, you have about 1/4 inch leeway front to back.

Then we have the basketball itself. It is a regulation ball but it’s inflated at a much higher than regulation pressure. This ensure that should the ball hit any inside part of the hoop, it’s going to bounce out and not in.

The bottom line. Not even Michael Jordan can win this game. The only winning move is not to play.

52 thoughts on “The Biggest Scam At The PNE”

  1. Ed Lau says:

    LOL…lots of carnival games are total scams. I thought everyone knew this already. Everything is rigged.

    1. John Chow says:

      Ya but some are more rigged than others. πŸ™‚

      1. This one is unbelievably rigged. I bet that most people don’t get the view of the oval shape. The balls are bouncing like crazy.

        I wonder if anyone ever got the ball in.

        1. What a ripoff!

          John, I have to say, the title of this post was pretty catchy ‘The Biggest Scam At The PNE’

          John, I bet you had a higher click through rate for this post than other recent posts?

        2. I can’t say I think it is really rigged, but the game where you throw the ball at the bottle stack is one that I cannot do at all, period. Maybe its just my aim though and not the game itself πŸ™‚

        3. d3so says:

          I wonder if someone saw this post and started a commotion there lol

          1. People come to these carnivals to enjoy … and they hardly give any serious thought to this …

          2. d3so says:

            That’s true but I bet some people lose their mind trying to win.

  2. Dino Vedo says:

    hahahahahah…. the biggest scam is where you throw a ring on those glass bottles… that my friends, is IMPOSSIBLE.

    1. Logan says:

      I did it once, I threw the whole bucket of rings at the bottles and one made it!! i was so happy. then the person made up the rule that you couldn’t throw that many at once =(

      1. PPC Ian says:

        I agree with you, Dino! That ring toss is crazy difficult!

    2. d3so says:

      the ring toss is extremely difficult but it’s not impossible. but that can also depend where you are.

    1. d3so says:

      Shame indeed. They’ve probably been doing this for centuries.

  3. Watch your back John, those carnies might hunt you down and put you in the house of horrors for exposing them. Hhmm, my son will need a job soon. Hammer, over inflated basketball, high backboard, cheap toys from China, go make me a million son!!

    1. Yes import toys from China and sell them on high value ……

  4. So better as you’ve also said. Just pass-by them and not play those scam games. lol

  5. Love it! Expose them all . All these fairground stalls are the same, they all have a little trick which means you’ll never win.

    I love the fact that you showed the hoop was oval. Terrible really. I thought things like that only happened here in Spain!

    1. We can’t resist trying though, can we? ;-(

    2. d3so says:

      lol sorry to disappoint but this happens around the world.

      1. Come on …

        You can expect this kind of things every place where human being lives …

        1. Dan Lew says:

          Everyone has their own trick up their sleeve to make money. It’s the nature of the game!

  6. aroopam says:

    these games look scammy

    1. d3so says:

      If that wasn’t obvious enough πŸ˜‰

      1. Dan Lew says:

        I think there is rubber around the ring, so it bounces off each time

  7. Lucas says:


    I love the War Games reference.

    If that’s not what you were going for ignore this comment πŸ˜‰

    1. John Chow says:

      Ya, the last line was in reference to War Games. πŸ™‚

      1. John I think you should ask that boy to give a try himself …

        In that way you can easily expose them …

        1. d3so says:

          lol it’s pretty obvious that the odds of winning aren’t that high, so it wouldn’t make much of a difference if he missed.

  8. PPC Ian says:

    What’s really difficult about this too is everyone loves basketball. They probably get a lot of people to try this game but very few winners. Seems like a great little business to me.

    1. That is the reason they do it πŸ˜‰ SY

  9. I wonder what the probability for getting the ball in is. I’m sure someone has to have made it before. Maybe after the ball has had some time to deflate a little?

    1. They should have a demonstration at the top of every hour of someone who can actually put the ball in. And at least two times out of 3 throws.

      If they did that without using a different ball then it would be a legitimate game.

  10. Chad Kettner says:

    Great post John!

    Even Lebron James can’t win this

    Such a scam!

    1. d3so says:

      nice reference lol. I’ve actually seen people win at this at six flags though that hoop mightve been rigged differently

      1. But SCAM is not the proper word .. I think this is TRICK

  11. Michael Kwan says:

    You’ll also notice that the bracket portion connecting the hoop to the backboard is a little longer than normal. This makes it much more difficult to make a bank shot (if that’s your strategy).

    1. Good observation Michael.

      I actually prefer making that kind of shot. With this dis-proportion and the way the balls bounce I think that it’d be better to try to get the ball in directly.

      It may take the whole day though.

    2. Dan Lew says:

      Oh yeah, more bouncy too!

  12. Aleksandra says:

    Wow I didn’t know this.. Good to read about this kind of things.. Good to know.. Thanks

  13. Dino Vedo says:

    i dont think this one is that hard though…. its just a hoop and a basket on top… just because its higher up and all doesnt make it that much harder… i could do it guaranteed…

    1. Dan Lew says:

      It’s all the anxiety that goes with it that makes it more difficult πŸ™‚

  14. I was just at the PNE on Sunday and my boyfriend played this game. He’s good at basketball too but couldn’t sink one in. Thanks for the analysis- I’ll make sure he knows about the oval hoop and the overinflated basketball.

    1. So he could not impress you … lollzzz

  15. BTW, how much do they charge people for trying? SY

    1. John Chow says:

      $5 for three tries.

      1. Even if they will provide 10 than they will be at win win position

  16. I got one of these stands perfectly once. It was a game where you threw 3 balls at a stack of cans. Knock them all down and you win whatever prize you want. So, being an amateur physicist, I went for the bottom right corner and let gravity do the hard work. Not even gravity can beat cans nailed to the stand! I got 3 direct hits, with the second throw denting the can and knocking cans off other piles. Seeing that the rack wasn’t nailed down, I rummaged, found a heavy ball, and gave it to my rugby player friend who threw it so hard it knocked the rack off. I pointed out I knocked down every damned can and to give me my prize. My friend argued for me too, as did a few annoyed passers by. I got the biggest things I could see, and really POed looks from the owners.

  17. So, you didn’t play, eh? πŸ™‚ All those fair/midway games are scams!

  18. earnword says:

    i hate scam thing. I will try to avoid or near it.

  19. Dan Lew says:

    Haha, John now I know why you have kids, to do reviews on these fairs! Smart going mate!

  20. People are doing billions scam and you are disclosing this one.

    Come on …

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