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Topic: Fool the guesser
Message: Posted by: jeremysweiss (Nov 15, 2007 01:00AM)
Recently I read a book--and it is driving me CRAZY because I can't remember what it was. (I am typically quite good at keeping references in my head, so it is really eating me up.)

Anyways, it was referencing "Fool the Guesser", which often uses a special gimmick we all know and love. But this time, a different method was referenced regarding 3 months (I know which three, but I am trying to limit exposure here). These 3 can be written down in such a way that the month the guesser claims he has written could very well be the month he has written down (if he had poor handwriting). Combined with the fact that he has given himself a 2 month leeway on either side, he has every month covered except one. Hence, the guesser wins 11/12 times. The drawing is sort of an ambigram.

Anyways, I cannot, for the life of me, remember the book reference--which included an illustration! (Therefore, it is NOT "Carnival Undercover".) I cannot even remember how the illustration was written. If anyone knows the answer(s) and can provide me with an example scribble, can you please, please PM me?


Message: Posted by: jeremysweiss (Nov 15, 2007 01:14AM)
Of course, EXACTLY 28 seconds after having posted this message....I found the reference. I only posted after ripping my already packed library apart (I am moving). Ho hum.
Message: Posted by: Big Jeff (Nov 15, 2007 01:25AM)
What was it?
Message: Posted by: dave_matkin (Nov 15, 2007 03:30AM)
Ok, for us uninitiated who are not familiar with "Fool the Guesser", can you just explain briefly the routine as seen from the spectator's point of view?

It sounds like someone is guessing the month of the year that a person is thinking of? Am I close?

Message: Posted by: drwilson (Nov 15, 2007 05:42AM)
They are guessing the birth month of the mark.


Message: Posted by: adam christopher (Nov 15, 2007 08:05AM)
I'm guessing that we're referring to the old and faithful J-line technique?
Message: Posted by: jeremysweiss (Nov 15, 2007 11:15AM)
Yes, I was referring to the J-line technique. If you PM me, I'll send you a link. "Fool the Guesser" can be age (within a certain number of years), weight (within a few pounds), and birth month (within 2 months). The "within" gives enough leeway to help the odds, but they are still in favor of the mark (so it seems, which is why they take the bet). But, the use of certain techniques are used to reduce the risk to (next to) zero for the operator.

I was thinking of putting together a routine using other techniques than the two known. Now this should be in the magic section, but you could do this with a whole audience, guessing a whole row of people's weights, ages, etc., using a one-ahead technique. Or how about an "out to lunch" principle for an "impromptu" "Fool the Guesser"?

Anyways, with regards to the original, I have only seen two ways of doing it. I just think it is a routine that lends itself to mentalism, without having the same abstractness of "three wavy lines and a star". I could be guessing the color of your underwear (James Biss). It seems ripe for a show--maybe fitting Dr. Wilson's style--his magic elixir might help him have unique powers....
Message: Posted by: drwilson (Nov 15, 2007 01:33PM)

My magic elixir is entirely responsible for my unique powers. And these powers could be yours for only pennies a day! I say pennies a day!


Message: Posted by: petekoloz (Nov 15, 2007 02:45PM)
A friend who puts several scale joints out every season told me the following-
She was in front of the joint one day when a family walked up, and they
wanted to know how to play.
She told them, "I'll guess your weight within 5lbs, your age within 3 yrs, or your birthday month within 2 months. If I get it wrong, you win choice!"
The family conferred.
They came to a decision:
"I'm sorry, Ma'am. We can't wait that long." And they left.
Message: Posted by: jeremysweiss (Nov 15, 2007 02:52PM)
Pennies a day?!?!? Great!!! Start sending them to me.
Message: Posted by: mota (Nov 15, 2007 10:28PM)
They can't wait that long? Reminds me of Nightmare Alley, where Stanton's magic book pitch dives when they go south...he is told that down there, they think the magic is real. I ran into that with the worm at a spot when a woman said, "How can you sell magic?" She thought it was real magic.

By any chance, were those people in Greenville, Texas?
Message: Posted by: abigkahuna (Nov 16, 2007 12:09AM)
Across from me at the Arizona State Fair was a Fool the Guesser Joint. Birth month within 2 months, age within 2 years, and weight within 3 pounds. A very huge learning curve for the stupid folks of Phoenix, who could not grasp the concept. One mark wanted to know what a "birth month" was.
"What do you mean, birth mark?" "Way would I pay you, I already know how old I am." And on and on... Essentially, the joint is set up to sell slum. The guessing is just a method to that miracle of separating the mark from his money.
Message: Posted by: dave_matkin (Nov 16, 2007 02:36AM)
On 2007-11-15 14:33, drwilson wrote:
I say pennies a day!

On 2007-11-15 15:52, jeremysweiss wrote:
Pennies a day?!?!?

Are you guys taking the miss out of my spelling?

The other day on the All Tied Up forum, I posted a message that was suppose to read "I will start saving my pennies." I spelt pennies as "pennis". Needless to say, I got a few comments!

P.S. Paul, I would also be interested in your products. (Or is it, a case of it will cost you 1,000,000 pennies a day? Still pennies, though!)
Message: Posted by: ringmaster (Nov 16, 2007 08:04PM)
HUH? You don't want to ever guess right. People pay to fool you and win the beautiful prizes. You aren't going to win a dime if you beat the mark. That's why this game pays right sale privilege instead of the higher hanky-pank privilege that a real game that can be lost pays, not to mention the higher alibi and flat store rates for the games that nobody wins.
"Win beautiful prizes, useful prizes. I'll guess I'll guess your age, your weight, or the color of your car. I'll guess what time you went to bed last night, or what time you got up and went home."
Message: Posted by: mota (Nov 17, 2007 08:41AM)
I must very gently disagree with ringmaster...you do want to guess right most of the time, just not all the time.

Watch guessers on the midway. A very good place to do this is any state fair, where there are usually several. See if they follow the advice of never guessing right...you won't find a single one that works like that.

There are times you have to win and a few situations where it is very good to lose, almost mandatory. A successful guesser works the crowd and makes them laugh and scream.

You have to develop the ability to guess ages and weights and know how to guess birth months. There are other things you can guess, but most of them don't have the right emotional hooks.

You have to flash your joint right...and mostly...

You have to win most of the time, and you need to know when you have to lose and how to do it. If you don't do it like this, no one will want to play your game.

The money does come from selling slum essentially, but that is like saying all you have to do to make money in the restaurant business is selling food for more than you paid for it. The failure rate of restaurants will show that isn't true. Go by this as your guideline as a guesser and you will starve.

It's all about the human interaction and how you work the tip.
Message: Posted by: ringmaster (Nov 17, 2007 12:35PM)
Mota is right, I should have deleted the word "ever" from my post. It's about showmanship, and you should make it look like a challenge.
Message: Posted by: sir real (Nov 18, 2007 08:56AM)
A girl I knew that worked the guesser for years told me it worked two ways. A bunch of hits in a row gathered a crowd for the "mystic" aspect; a bunch of misses got them lining up for the good ole easy win greed factor. An agent that understands it's a show dressed as a game and is capable of working a crowd can win some nice money with this joint. It's an old one, but a good one for sure.
Message: Posted by: mota (Nov 18, 2007 09:50AM)
Those are good points.

I'll share a bit, too... Everyone is being so nice in this section, it is pleasant to be here.

With men, you want to just beat them... They want a fight and want to beat you at your own game.

Women are different... You do NOT want to miss a woman's weight, high, or her age high. This is one of those places you have to go low, or even miss by a mile low. If you guess a fifty year old woman as sixty, she will get visibly depressed and bring the whole emotion down.

On the other hand, if you have a large lady, especially one who is a potential screamer, guess her weight low, but not so low it is unbelievable. She will yell and dance with delight. You will make her day, and her friends will love you. The emotion rolls and you just keep playing.
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Nov 18, 2007 10:37AM)
Excellent thread. More please. Is there a source for solid info? (Maybe a How-To like my Grindshow Manual?) With all the ins and outs? Is it basically just pure psychology or cold reading? I do this for fun for my own amusement, and add location details like country of origin or state one originally came from. Blows 'em away. I don't know how I do it really, but it has to do with precise listening/hearing.

(Hey, mota, how's stuff? Let's do a private secret manual!)
Message: Posted by: ringmaster (Nov 18, 2007 03:19PM)
It's psychology and showmanship, with a splash of audience participation. The classic joint has a Toledo no-spring scale with a three foot dial so the tip can watch as the chubby girl steps up on the platform and gets weighed. I remember stores on RAS that had big cotton scales where the gal sat in a hanging seat. The whole point is to get as many marks as possible to play. This is a straight sale, and is recognised as such by show owners and committees who encourage it by charging a low privilege than that charged to games of skill and chance are charged.
Play can run from twenty-five cents [a dollar now for bottom shelf (slum)] to several dollars for top shelf prizes. An experienced guesser usually estimates age and weight fairly easily, so he has to play the tip like a fish on the line. There are usually several levels of prizes (shelves) with slum and various sizes of plush, plus items like mugs, goblets, and clocks (beautiful prizes, useful prizes). A mike is always used.

*PM to Doug
Message: Posted by: Harley Newman (Nov 18, 2007 04:15PM)
Doug, if you do a book on this, I might just buy it.

I'd promise, but now that you know I want it, I don't know what you'll do with the price.

Oh, yeah! $47 for the mark with the weird hair! Just $5.73 for everybody else!
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Nov 18, 2007 08:23PM)
Haha...I wasn't even thinking about sales...more just having an accurate record for the trade and insiders... Unless sold as a biz plan/manual, then it would be fair to those who wanted to do the store and not just for the casually curious.

Would seem like a fun project...as if I need another one.
Message: Posted by: ringmaster (Nov 18, 2007 09:24PM)
Message: Posted by: jeremysweiss (Nov 18, 2007 11:42PM)
As you can tell, I have a lot of research on the methods behind some of the gaffs employed. So I can happily contribute, but regarding the building of a tip and hooking them in, I have no practical experience. Only--what I remember as a kid. It was a show, indeed. There MAY be a recording on one of Ross's bally tapes, but I don't think so.....
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Nov 19, 2007 03:53AM)
Building the Tip... There is enough knowledge assembled here on the Café to build a Woodstock-sized tip! No need for a full on pitch, more an attention getter (like Don' dollar bills)... I would prefer a running gag commentary of the folks who pass by (nothing to get you a punch in the mouth, though). Would depend on the prize level, though... Personally, I would opt for a better shelf and anchor there. If I could gather a decent-sized tip, the sky's the limit on what could be done to make it entertaining, rather than just another boring booth on the midway...enough so to win a $3 hit.
Message: Posted by: mota (Nov 19, 2007 08:58AM)
Don's building a tip method will build a mob on a deserted beach. Another thing I've noticed on building a tip that no one seems to have caught on to is using the worm.

When you pitch the worm, you will build a large tip just playing with it and running it over your hands. I've used it to sell the worm, but there is no reason you couldn't just use it to build a tip and go right into your pitch.
Message: Posted by: petekoloz (Nov 19, 2007 09:32AM)
Just as a point of order-
Truth in advertising and so forth...

Because of the advanced age of some (you know who you are) who've been showing a keen interest in this, would it be more accurate to refer to it as "Fool the Geezer"?
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Nov 19, 2007 10:08AM)
Haha...Guesses FROM the Geezer are a real crowd pleaser... He's seen All and Known All...step up and see if he has any left... These days he just sees a few and knows one or two things, so it's YOUR chance to take home a prize... Can he guess your weight? Your Height? Where you live? Where you [i]have[/i] lived? He'll guess when you were born and the actual date and circumstances of your...ooops...we'll leave that one out!!! One dollar a guess, folks...look at these beautiful prizes you will Win... A New Car! A New Plasma TV! A Beautiful Black Plastic Pocket Comb!
Message: Posted by: Kondini (Nov 19, 2007 10:31AM)
Doing this on and off before Strange Show came along...just guessed the age (Swami method). Very seldom hit the button, but leeway of three years either way seemed feasible.
Set up >>> Over the top garb (Eastern dress like Alibaba). Stood on an upturned milk crate. No swag as such, just a board with the lettering and a couple of dozen cheap (25p) "Silver" charm necklaces. That way, I could lose every time and still make a profit on each.

Never shout out the age...bent forward for them to whisper in my ear. (Doing the dirty work was easy in this position.) Tear off the prediction sheet from the pad, fold it into four, and let them open it.
Average a couple of gross of that gave a good days wage.

Message: Posted by: mota (Nov 19, 2007 07:06PM)
Many different ways...that is quite good. Thank you for sharing, Kondini.
Message: Posted by: gmonty3 (Dec 25, 2007 11:12PM)
Back in the early 70's when I first began as a guesser, I was told of a guy who guessed names on the old Dell and Travelers Shows using a nail writer. I have also heard of the other gaff mentioned for birthday month using the Jan, Jun, and Jul 11-month trick. However, these methods are not used very much today, if at all. The whole idea is to build your tip and sell merchandise in disguise. For me this has always been a very upbeat joint. Flatter the ladies, keep people smiling and keep them coming back for more. I have played the same 4th of July spot for 28-conceutive years. One cannot rip anyone off and keep coming back year after year.
Message: Posted by: Kondini (Dec 28, 2007 08:44AM)
The backend gaffs,and mops have their share of guessers,,,all without fail use a swami. Only trinkets as giveaways, no slum to push.
At Nottingham Goose there are usualy three units but all are run by the same family.
They appear as the evening draws in aiming trade as the adults and drunks start to appear,,,much on the same lines of putting a striker by the beer tent!!!!

Beer in >>> wits out,,,,they egg each other on and have no idea as to the money they are spending.

Message: Posted by: abigkahuna/1 (Jan 1, 2008 02:02AM)
Lovely Ken... Just gotta love it.

btw, for any who cares. abigkahuna is now abigkahuna/1 seems I lost a password and the account was sent up on a very old email no longer in use. so if anyone has been pm ing me these past weeks. that's why I haven't answered.