Is the shell game a game of chance?

Especially at tourist hotspots there are always cone players in the warm summer months. The temptation is great: many a passer-by still sees the shell game as an opportunity to win quick money on the roadside. But how does the shell game work and is it really a form of gambling?

shell game a game of chance

Not only in Berlin, but also in other German and European cities, shell players are now part of the street scene. Since many “locals” know that the shell game is a fraud, the dubious organizers usually attract tourists in a targeted manner. The stake is often 50 euros and the money is lost within seconds. The scam has worked so well for years that criminal groups have now specialized in shell games.

How does the shell game work?

At the start of the game, the shell player places a small ball under one of three boxes. The shell player then changes the positions of the three boxes at a comparatively slow speed. The player thinks that he can easily follow the box with the ball. The task of the unsuspecting player is now to guess which of three boxes the ball is under. If he guesses correctly, double the stake will be paid out as a profit. If he guesses incorrectly, his stake will be retained.

What sounds like a strategy or game of chance is in reality a brazen scam. Why? Quite simply: During the game, the shell player lets the ball disappear unnoticed in his hand so that the player never has a chance of winning. While the perpetrator reveals the boxes, he lets the ball fall back under a box unnoticed. In addition, the shell player has accomplices who previously make a pretense of a profit. Other passers-by think that it is easy to defeat the cone player and then take part themselves.

Anyone who takes part in the shell game has no chance of winning. The stake is always lost and you become the victim of fraud. In this case, a report should be made to the police.

Offenders are professional and organized

As a rule, these are not individual perpetrators, but criminal gangs. In addition to the shell player, the group of offenders usually consists of 6 – 7 other people who each take on different tasks. This includes looking out for the police, attracting potential victims and participating in the game.

Victims who claim their money back and see through the fraud are often physically attacked by the perpetrators. The police report that occasionally the money was torn from the victims’ hands and the perpetrators then flee in different directions.

Special attractions for shell players are busy shopping streets such as Kurfürstendamm or Potsdamer Platz in Berlin. But also in other metropolises such as London, the shell game is still a big problem. The majority of the victims are (foreign) tourists who either do not know the scam or actually believe that they can earn quick money in this way.

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