After several sleepless nights pondering the pitfalls of how to do it without incurring the wrath or the disbelief of players and bystanders, (“It’s a fix!”; “Ugh! It’s all squashy! I’m not picking that up!”; “Oh, anyone will know what they are picking up from the size / the shape / the texture!”) I hit on the following solution:
Each player would stake £1 on a single play.
The “Machine” consisted of three people (Daniel, Jonny and Adam) sitting in a line, each with a bucket containing five different fruits on his lap. The MC or ringmaster (Emma) would have a glamorous assistant (Amanda) who would stand behind the Machine with an identical set of fruit in a bag.
At the sound of a whistle, the glamorous assistant would produce at random a “Mystery fruit” from her bag and display it to the audience from behind the machine. Each of the three “reels” (Daniel, Jonny and Adam) would then plunge a hand into his bucket and flourish the first fruit he laid a hand on.
If the three reels each produced a different fruit, the turn was over. If they produced two of the same, the player would get a free turn. If they produced three of a kind (but not matching the mystery fruit) they would win £2. If they produced three identical fruit which also matched the Mystery Fruit, the player would win the top prize of £10.
The results were very much as Ben predicted. In all, we took £42 from 42 players. We had two winners: the first won £2 and the second £10. So a gross profit of £30 from an income of £42.
There were 90 turns tabulated, and of these, 48 were free: i.e. the player had secured two matching fruit in their preceding turn.
The £2 winner won on her first (£1) bet.
The £10 winner won on her third (two were free) bet, having had two of the same twice previously.
As to how much was spent on the fruit: I think Emma will be too tired to remember where the receipt is!
The fruits were apples, oranges, pears, bananas and red onions. OK, OK, I know the onions aren’t fruit, but no-one minded. The apples were free and the others were all in season or on special offer, so the cost will have been slight. And it was a lot more fun than coloured balls. After all, for a fruit machine, you should have fruit, right? OK, so there is the question of the onions . . .
I think there were a few more players and another £2 winner after that, but by then the scribe had lost track, or lost the plot . . . or maybe we had lost the scribe . . . it was a long day and very hot!
But the Human Fruit Machine was a real highlight of our Fun Day.