In his first book, Matthew Gryczan detailed how to win at carnival games, which games to avoid and how to build your own carnival games so that you can practice before you hit the midway. Published in 1988, the book sold more than 10,000 copies that can be found on bookshelves worldwide.
Matthew and his midway tips were featured in more than 50 daily newspapers in the United States and Canada, including the Chicago Tribune, Seattle Times, Sacramento Bee, Dallas Times Herald, and Cincinnati Enquirer. Carnival Secrets was noted in magazines such as Games, Discover, Amusement Business and Sporting News. His expertise in carnival games landed Matthew interviews on The Secret Caberet II that was broadcast nationally in the United Kingdom and the Today Show on NBC.
In addition to carnival buffs, Carnival Secrets has been purchased by libraries and law enforcement agencies nationwide as a reference work.
Matthew collected information and conducted interviews of carnival game manufacturers, law enforcement agents and carnies for two years to research Carnival Secrets. He also measured games as they operated on the midway and kept track of how many times the average carnivalgoer had to play before winning.
He then built replicas of some games and practiced them. The outcome of his research: He won 10 large prizes the first year he hit the carnival circuit, spending far less per game than the average player.
The 211-page book includes 64 photos, 24 illustrations, 3 mathematical tables, and a full glossary of carnival slang.
“The most informative of all on the subject. It's a must for investigators and carnival game buffs. This book reveals the secrets of winning midway games. The author describes dozens of games and explains how to play them. He also warns about those games which are almost impossible to win. The book includes plans for building your own games to be used for practice, home entertainment for making your own mini-carnival. This book provides a fascinating look at the world of carnival games." --Bob Snyder, nationally known gaming expert
"Matthew does a great job in showing patrons of carnival games how they can win and gives information on those games which cheat a player. I have recommended this book to the general public and law enforcement when I lecture on crooked and gambling carnival games. I have many of the games he describes in my collection of confiscated or homemade games. I am writing a book on carnival games at this time from a law enforcement perspective that exposes the secret methods of cheating. People should remember that many of the games do require practice. Just because you do not win does not mean a game is crooked. Any game can be altered to cheat a player, the trick is to watch the operator and others play. Know the written rules up front. If you feel you have been cheated, seek an officer on the grounds and make a complaint." -- Glenn Hester, Glynn County Police Department "Carnival Cop."
“This books talks about over 35 different carnival games, their strategies, and how they work. Some parts are so detailed, that it is easy enough to build your own attractions from the description. Just to pick two games that can be used in the classroom, Roll Down (Chapter 10) is good for a probability exercise, and Bottle Set Up (Chapter4) is good for a center of mass lab or demonstration. This is a fun book that will cause you to look at carnival games much differently, and for the creative teacher, has extensions for use in a classroom.” --Nathan Unterman, author of Amusement Park Physics: A Teacher's Guide