The Shell Game

Maniac World


Play Free 'The Shell' Game

Click the 'Start' button to begin the game.  The Shell Game is a Flash online game based on the old game known as Three Shells.   The game is simple - just make your wager and keep your eye on the shell that contains the ball.  After the shuffle, click on the shell you think still has the ball.

History of the Shell Game

The shell game has been played at least since the Middle Ages, as evidenced by several paintings of that time. A book published in England in 1670 (Hull Elections - Richard Perry and his fiddler wife) mentions the thimblerig game. In the 1790s, it was called "thimblerig" as it was originally played using sewing thimbles. Later, walnut shells were used, and today the use of bottle caps is very common.

It was believed to be introduced to the U.S. by a Dr. Bennett, who became famous for his skill at the game. The scam became very popular throughout the nineteenth century, and games were often set up in or around traveling fairs. Fear of jail kept these shell men traveling from one town to the next, never staying in one place very long. One of the most infamous hustlers of the nineteenth century, Jefferson Randolph Smith, known as Soapy Smith, led organized gangs of shell men throughout the mid-western States, and later in Alaska.

Today, the game is still being played for money in many major cities around the world, usually at locations with a high tourist concentration (for example: New York and Los Angeles, in the United States, Rambla in Barcelona, Spain Gran Via in Madrid, Kurfürstendamm in Berlin, Germany, Bahnhofsviertel in Frankfurt am Main). The swindle is classified as a Confidence trick game (or scam), and illegal to play for money, in most countries.


The Shell Game


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