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When playing the shell game in the Arcade rooms, the shells move pretty fast and I can almost never tell where the prize ends up. I'm not sure if this is attributed to me just having poor focusing skills and the game is truly just that fast in swapping the shells around, or if the game is doing it that fast to essentially mask the fact that it's a random shell to get your prize every time.

Is it luck based/rigged, or am I just exceedingly bad at this particular shell game?

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Offhand, I'd say the shell game is always rigged. –  CyberSkull Oct 3 '11 at 13:37
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up vote 14 down vote accepted

Here's a few videos I recorded while testing it out, and slowing the video down by 85%.

Even slowed down by 85%, it still moves pretty fast. However, if I managed to follow the right shell correctly then:

  • In the first video, the correct shell should have been the left shell.
  • In the second video, the correct shell should have been the right shell.

As you also can see from the videos, I only chose the middle shell, which would have been the wrong choice. So I do believe that the shell game is completely rigged/luck based.

However, in the case that I might be wrong. The speed of the shells are still incredibly fast, and would most likely be too fast for the average human eye. So it would essentially still be luck based.

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I came to the same conclusion as you: left in the first one, right in the second one. I think this just shows that the shell game is completely random, essentially the same as the slot machine except with the false sense of deciding your own outcome. –  TheQ Oct 3 '11 at 22:14
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According to the wiki, the animation is unrelated to the actual answer and it is completely random, and the chance of winning is always 33%. In my experience the lucky foot appears to increase that chance to 50%.

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If you are carrying the lucky foot, the odds in the shell game go up from 33% to 50% –  GSto Aug 24 '12 at 19:54
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I have observed patterns in the shell game indicating a preset list that is cycled through. Left shell twice middle shell twice and right shell twice. The odds of this happening with a 33% chance to win is 1.29% and I have performed this pattern several times. I typically choose the left shell until i win twice then do the middle shell and see the pattern many times after the left shell wins twice. I have done this pattern both with and without the lucky foot.

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