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Turn carnival game odds in your favor

Mid- to late-summer is peak carnival and fair season. During this time of year, empty fields and parking lots are transformed into entertainment wonders featuring rides, foods and plenty of games of chance.

Carnival games are a fun diversion. Thousands and thousands of fairgoers test their luck at these games when carnivals roll into town. Games often seem as though they are stacked in the house's favor, but games are not impossible to win. A few pointers can increase any player's chances of winning.

• Ring toss: The object of this game is to throw a ring and have it settle around the neck of a bottle. For the best chances, toss the ring so that it remains as flat horizontally as possible. Think of throwing it as you would a Frisbee®.

• Milk bottle pyramid: In this game, participants have to throw a softball to knock over milk bottles stacked in a pyramid. It seems easy, but sometimes the weight of the softball is not in proportion to the weight of the bottles. The ball may be filled with cork, and the bottles may be weighted on the bottom. Aim for the center of the two lowest bottles and throw the ball as hard as you can.

• Basketball shot: In this game, the rim of the basketball net is likely smaller than regulation and the backboard may be stiffer than players are accustomed to. In addition, the ball may be overinflated so that it is more bouncy. Try a high arc that will help you swish the ball. Otherwise, aim for the top of the square on the backboard so that the ball will bank right into the net.

• Whack-a-mole: This game is fun because a player can go after whichever critter pops out of the hole. A key advantage to this game is never to raise the mallet higher than the height of the mole. This ensures a faster swing and a quicker resetting to hit the next mole that pops up.

• Balloons and darts: To counteract potentially dull darts, look for the shiniest, thinnest balloons. Those are the ones that are inflated the most. This will increase your chances of popping a balloon.

• Frog toss: Young children are drawn to this game because they get to launch a rubber frog into the air and throw it toward a lily pad. The chance of getting wet combined with pounding a mallet can make this game quite attractive. To improve your odds of winning, make the frog as small as possible by folding its legs underneath the body. Aim high so that the frog is launched in a high arc and has a better chance of landing in that lily pad cup.

Carnival games can be entertaining. Players have a greater chance of taking home a prize if they learn some secrets of each game they play.

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