Thursday, June 17, 2010



I was walking along Rue de la Croic d' Or ( the famous shopping street of Bel Air) the other day when I noticed that near every street corner there were people who were putting a bet for a shell game.

What is a shell game, one might ask?

From Wikipedia;

The game requires three shells (thimbles, walnut shells, bottle caps, plastic cups, 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 or if the player is allowed to touch the shells, in which case the player has a chance. The player must turn over any two shells saying that the pea is under neither of these. Since the pea is usually palmed, it is not under any of the shells and the operator has no choice but to pay up.

Read more here.

Its a con game, designed to dupe and win money.

These guys were everywhere in the city of Geneva. They can be found by the lakeside walkway, in the park, along the street, everywhere, during summer time. On the above mentioned street alone, I counted about no less than 15 shell game operators. The bet placed here in Geneva is CHF 100.00 per 1 guess. They usually will have 3 or 4 other guys around the operator who looks like they are also placing their bets but in reality, these people are part of the con, enticing and encouraging people to play.

The Wikipedia article warned that people never win in this game, and if they do, its because the operator allows the winning, to keep them continue playing.


A lot of people lost their wallets and handbags in Geneva.

Th stories that I gathered from those who had this unfortunate experiences, usually the will be a man will stop them on the street and pretend to ask for time. While doing this, the man will act friendly, putting his arms on the shoulders and before they know what happen, their wallets or handbags were already gone.

Other people had their handbags or purse snatched while having a coffee in the street cafe.


Some would thing that this is Geneva, so it must be safe. Unfortunately, like any other tourist attractions, there are people who prey on tourists.

I would advise people to be extra careful with their belongings and to be alert all the time while enjoying the sights of Geneva, otherwise the nice little Swiss trip would turned into a horrible one.

1 comment:

  1. the shell game in geneva vs judi bola in malaysia-> sama tapi tak serupa :)