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.