Welcome to our second installment of ChubDad Corner. If you're a dad, 1) quintuple-fist-bump, and 2) this tiny slice of our super-fun-times internet clubhouse is entirely written by dads for dads. If you're not a dad, feel free to carry on to other important stuff like the world's largest Aqua Park. Or, here's an idea: you could stick around, have a corndog, and read about how to be a ticket-winning MACHINE.
Here's the exchange I've had with my 4-year-old both times I've taken her to an arcade:
4-year-old: "I want to spend the entire time we're here playing this one weird game where you feed ping pong balls to a giant pig, OK?"
Me: "Uh, sure? This machine only gives you 1 ticket per play though, which means you won't be able to get any good prizes at the ticket counter, is that alright?"
[2 hours later at the ticket counter]
4-year-old: "Let's get the giant stuffed Mario!"
Me: "That's 15,000 tickets."
4-year-old: "How many do we have?"
4-year-old: *saddest face on the entire planet*
Which's why last weekend, I went to Dave & Busters with my brother in dad arms Andy to figure out how to win my kid the biggest prize with the least amount of time, effort, and money. Five hours, a couple-ish beers, and 18,000 tickets later, we went home with this:
But more importantly: we figured out how to beat the D&B system. Here's everything you need to know about how to be a ticket-winning dad hero.
1. Make sure you figure out how many credits a dollar is worth
Arcades do this thing now where instead of giving you 400 tokens for 400 quarters, they give you 750 credits and put them on a credit card that you have to swipe to play anything. All of the games have swipe values that go to the first decimal place (anywhere between 2.8 and 10.8 credits), which means you have to do a LOT of math to figure out how much each game actually costs.
Best thing to do is figure out how much a dollar is worth (at D&B it's worth 7.5 credits), and keep that in mind when you're doing your cost analysis for a game.
2. Have a strict plan for every game you play
You've got $100. You wanna win the 15,000 ticket Mario (which has a dollar value of $300+ whoooooooooa). You're gonna need to average winning 150 tickets per dollar. Which means you can't blow 10.2 credits 23 times in a row on a game you SWEAR you can win. We gave ourselves a max of three plays to hit the 150 average -- if we started playing a game and weren't close to that average, we moved on to another game.
3. Don't play anything based on an iPhone game
Or a Disney movie. Or a game show. They're all traps.
4. Don't play any games that require you to swipe more than once
If at any point the arcade says "bro, you're killing it, you did so good in that first round, you're gonna win a million tickets... but only if you swipe again," immediately stop playing that game. You'll totally win 200 tickets, and be like, "ha! I did it!," except you pumped three swipes into the machine to do it, which means you actually average less than 70 tickets per swipe, and that's only IF you win, which sometimes you won't. Total scam.
5. Don't play any broken games
6. Don't expect to win a lot of tickets on any of the games you actually like
The two best, most classic games at any arcade? Pop-a-shot and skeeball. The two games they intentionally make total money pits? Pop-a-shot and skeeball. Unless you're that one guy who shoots two-handed, you aren't good enough at Pop-a-shot to make it worthwhile for your average. I know, I know you played basketball freshman year of high school, and were the MVP of your Catholic School's 8th grade basketball team, but the jackpot is generally only around 300, and everytime you cash in on it the high score goes up.
7. The jackpots are super important, but so are the minimums
Don't play any games with lower than a 500 ticket jackpot -- the jackpots are muy importante, we hit three 500s, and two 1000s, which really helped get us to Ginormous Mario Land faster -- and don't play any games where a majority of the minimums are under 50. Basically if there are 100 spots on a wheel of fortune type game, and 80 of them are over 50, you should play that game. A few 50s and 60s here and there aren't gonna kill your quest -- what WILL though is a few 10s and 20s. Basically: High Jackpot + High Non-Jackpot Average = Yuuuuuuup.
8. These are the three most profitable games we played
This dope spinning wheel, which had 50 slots, which had 16 10-ticket slots, and 34 50-plus ticket slots (12 of which were either 90 or 100), including four that were 200, 200, 500, and 1,000. Great jackpots, great-great-great non-jackpot averages:
This dope Gold Fishin' game. Remember how we said you shouldn't play Pop-a-shot because you're probably not good enough? Well, this one we just so happened to be good enough at -- it was essentially beer pong, except instead of shooting into red cups you were firing at goldfish bowls, with a 500 ticket jackpot, and an easily gettable 90- and 70-ticket tier just below the J-pot. Also, you could totally lean over and toss it underhand (*cough*cough*Andy*cough*cough*Andy did that and won a bunch of tickets*cough*).
And finally, the mother of all ticket gold mines: COLORMATCH. Full disclosure: we won EIGHT THOUSAND TICKETS on this game. And spent $40ish on it. (AKA YOU COULD WIN MARIO FOR UNDER $100 IF YOU PLAYED ONLY THIS GAME.) Here's how it works, you select a color, the pie slice next to your color flashes through colors, and you press a button to stop it when it hits the same color. Each subsequent pie slice goes a little bit faster, and if you get five straight, you win 200 tickets. It'll then ask you if you want to cash out, OR try to complete three more EVEN FASTER pie slices, which pays out 1,000 tickets if you get through all three. Don't fall for the 1,000 ticket thing, just cash out -- the 200 ticket deal was mad easy to get 9 out of 10 times and the game cost less than a dollar. Was it fun? No. Not at all. But did it get us halfway to Mario with relative ease? You're damn right it did.
Few pro tips: 1) Pick the color red -- all of the other colors have similar variations which'll screw you up (like blue and light blue, or yellow and light orange, etc), and 2) it's a pretty predictable pattern -- if you just had red pop up immediately on the third and fourth slice, the fifth is gonna make you wait forever so don't get button-push-happy. Vice versa, if you waited forever on the fourth, they'll probably hit you with red on the first or second cycle throw on the fifth slice. Be ready.
Grind it out on those three and you're pretty much guaranteed to be doing this:
Alright, now go make your kid proud.