Thursday, September 10, 2009

Donde Quedó La Bolita

Last Saturday I went downtown to buy fruits and veggies at the market. I witnessed a man who was taking bets on the "shell game". Here is the definition from wikipedia:

The game requires three shells (thimbles, walnut shells, bottle caps, and even match boxes have been used), and a small, soft round ball, about the size of a pea, and often referred to as such. It can be played on almost any flat surface, but on the streets it is often seen played on a mat lying on the ground, or on a cardboard box. The person perpetrating the swindle (called the thimblerigger, operator, or shell man) begins the game by placing the pea under one of the shells, then quickly shuffles the shells around.

Once done shuffling, the operator takes bets from his audience on the location of the pea. The audience is told that if a player bets and guesses correctly, the player will win back double his bet (that is, he will double his money); otherwise he loses his money. However, in the hands of a skilled operator, it is not possible for the game to be won, unless the operator wants the player to win.

When an individual not familiar with the shell game encounters a game on the streets, it appears that bets are being placed by numerous players, when in reality, these persons around the game are shills who are all part of the confidence trick.

I was fascinated to watch this game and it seemed like I could always pick out exactly where the small ball was located. There were a lot of bets with a lot of money. The next thing I know I was pushed to the center and "another player" was trying to encourage me to play and even gave me 500 pesos. I handed the money back to him and told him I only wanted to watch and that I did not bring any money with me so I could not play. I think I saved myself a lot of money.

1 comment:

  1. OMG..ive seen this guy en la that's what they are doing...betting on it! wow...i thought he was doing magic or something! lol