pool players - how do i win this game?

There is a carnival visiting this weekend, with a game that seems easy enough to win, given the right strategy - I just don’t know what that is.

There is a mini-pool table, and about 6 feet away, a ball rests in the middle of a 5" circle (give or take a little). There is a half dollar placed on the top of the ball, slightly facing you. To win, you have to hit your cue ball into the object ball (without jumping), and knock the coin completely out of the circle.

I assume that this is a combination of English and speed, but I don’t know which.

To the best of my knowledge, the game looks fair - i.e. the balls are equal weight, the circle is a true one, the half dollar is a real one.

Any ideas?

You’re not gonna win, though I think that is probably not a big surprise.

The hitch is that there is no good way to transfer any momentum to the coin to carry it out of the circle. It is sitting on top of the object ball with no momentum. The only way to impart any motion to it is going to be from the friction between the object ball and the coin. After the collision between your ball and the object ball occurs the aforesaid balls are going to leaving the scene of the collision in a hurry and the coin will be left hanging with no real motion to speak of and land in the circle.

The only stratagem I can think of is to roll your ball in as slowly as possible, just slightly off-line, and hope that the two balls push the coin outside of the circle.

If you hit the cue ball into the object ball directly, the coin will just suddenly find itself without the object ball beneath it and drop straight down (possibly hitting the cue ball on the way down).

I thought you might have to hit the object ball so that it’s coming towards the lower side of the coin, therefore bank the cue ball of the foot rail, hard, with reverse spin. However, I just tried this with a nickel instead of a half-dollar, and I could never get the nickel do do anything but jump an inch or two straight up and then fall straight back down.

I also tried hitting it at an angle, in the hopes that the cue ball would have enough speed after the collision to knock the nickel away. Then I realized this couldn’t work, because the cue ball will always deflect at a 90-degree angle from the contact angle, therefore can’t touch a coin that’s smaller than the diameter of the balls.

But I think your only hope would be to hit the cue ball off the foot rail, hard, with reverse english, and hope that the coin gets the right fliip motion such that it comes down on its edge and bounces or rolls out of the circle. I think you would also need a fair amount of luck.

Just guessing here. If you hit the cue ball hard with backspin, I would expect the coin would just drop in place, rather like whisking the tablecloth off so as to leave the dishes in place on top. I figure you need a bit of top English to keep the cue rolling so that it hits the coin. How fast/hard? I don’t know, but I’d be tempted to practice in a pool hall to find out.

I assume the game has a shill who can demonstrate doing it to lure customers, so it’s gotta be possible.

When I tried this a minute ago, I didn’t fully understand the problem. I was thinking you needed to knock the coin off the table. Using the shot banking the cue off the foot rail, I was able to send the nickel as much as five or six inches away from where the object ball was centered, which should be more than enough with a 5" diameter circle. However, this was not consistent, and it was heavily dependent on the amount you leaned the coin towards you.

I’d hit the other ball very softly.

There wouldn’t be much friction between a pool ball and a coin, so if you hit it hard, the coin will drop straight down, like pulling a tablecloth out from under a set table. If you hit it softly enough, the coin might stay on the ball as it rolls, so that it will land outside the circle.

You should remember that it’s a carnie game, and so it is fixed even if it doesn’t look like it is. I’ve never seen a carnival game that wasn’t fixed in some way; that’s how they make money for their dwarf habits… :wink:

Don’t forget the coin will also slide off the ball as it tips, so hitting slowly won’t work.

My vote is for using follow and the exact right speed so that the coin gets knocked of the first ball and gets smacked out of the circle by the cueball which follows through.

If you do it too slow, yeah. There should be a range of speeds that would get it to stick long enough that it gets enough momentum to get outside the circle.

One of my math teachers in high school said he wanted to make a carnival game where the table is an oval with one hole at a focus, and all you have to do is hit a ball, bounce it off the rail once, and have it go in a hole. The trick would be that you’d have to hit the ball from where the carnie placed it; when the carnie is demonstrating he’d put it on the other focus and hitting it in any direction would put it in the hole, but when it was a players turn he’d put the ball just slightly off the focus.

The important point is that carnival games aren’t made to be won. The basketball hoops aren’t round, the milkjars are oddly weighted, the bb guns aren’t accurate, and the baseball won’t stay in the peachbasket if you throw it straght on.


I don’t get it…how can a half dollar on top of a round ball be “slightly facing you”? Doesn’t it have to be exactly on top, or else fall off? Clearly everyone else understands, but I don’t. Could someone help me out? (I’ve never seen this game. The only carnival game involving pool that I’ve seen just requires you to break and run four balls. There’s no trick, just that the table and sticks are warped beyond belief.)

Now, not all carnival games are fixed. I saw a guy make handfuls of one dollar bills by giving out big stuffed animals for anyone who could make two free throws in a row. It was a normal basketball and a normal hoop, and the hoop didn’t bounce a wierd amount. (Yes, I know about those hoops that are flattened, but I was working right next to this guy all day, and they weren’t mounted onto a wall or anything; it was a normal portable hoop that you could walk all around and get a good look at.)

The fact is that most people simply can’t do it, or will have to spend 5 dollars or more to get it done. Some won’t even then. Of course, he limited the prizes to one per person, so as to avoid getting cleaned out by the local high school team.

This solution would not work because there is a gutter about 1 foot behind the object ball.

There are some side “rails” - though it kind of looks like a short bowling alley in shape…

If the coin jumps, wouldn’t a little follow through on the cue ball allow it to be under the coin when it lands? That should pop it somewhere…

With enough chalk and low English, would it be possible to get the cueball airborne and hope to flip the coin off the top of the ball? If you could accomplish this, I think you would have more luck than knocking the ball out from under the coin.

Well, since the coin is not at Top Dead Center, but slightly facing the player, any contact with the center ball will make the coin fall straight down.

I was thinking maybe hitting it with a lot of top English, so that the cue ball will rebound a short distance after knocking the other ball out from under the coin, then zip forwards again, and hit the coin as it’s falling or bouncing.

Anything else aside from hitting it from the other side will cause the coin to just drop. Maybe you could use bottom english to make the cue ball pass the ball, come back hit it from behind, but that seems much harder.

Hah! I beat this game once but it was luck. Nothing I tried could be said to work reliably. I just set it up on my table and tried medium, soft and hard speeds with follow and also tried kicking off the rail first with draw and nothing worked. Of course, my pool balls are cleaner and this will only make the shot harder but I’d say this game can’t be won with any consistency.
Even with a follow shot, you have to understand the cueball does not maintain continous forward motion.
I tried everyone else’s suggestions (except for the jump shot) here multiple times. I’m fairly decent for an amateur and I’d say save your money. Nothing worked.