Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Sunday, March 19, 2006

"Deal, or No Deal!"

Well, I think the game show pendulum is swinging back the other way. The last few hit shows have been shows that stressed knowledge "Who Wants to be a Millionaire", "Jeopardy!", and now the next show that is at least being promoted as the next big thing harkens back to the pure luck shows like Card Sharks and Let's Make a Deal. In fact, it is essentially Let's Make a Deal for the new century.

It's a totally mindless game, that yet seems very compeling to watch at home despite how little actually happens. I wonder how much staying power this game will have.

The game essentially works like this:
The game starts with 26 briefcases each containing a differing amount of money from 1 million dollars, all the way down to 1 penny. As a contestant you start by choosing 1 briefcase, which is then brought over and put on your podium, clearly in your posession the whole time so as to avoid accusations of trickery going on. The idea is that you own whatever dollar amount is in your case, however nobody knows what that dollar amount is. The show even claims the host nor the banker know the amount in the contestants case.

We then try to determine what amount is in the contestant's case, not by opening that case, but having the contestant, of his own free will, choose 6 of the remaining 25 cases to be opened. The cases are opened and the ammounts are removed from a scoreboard of sorts. Here is where the game actually starts, based on the dollar amounts remaining on the board the mysterious "Banker" sitting in his skybox calls the host via telephone and offers the contestant a fixed dollar amount to purchase the contestants case. If, at any time, the contestant sells the case to the banker the game ends right there, the player is paid the negotiated ammount, and then the case is opened to see if the player made the best deal. If the player does not accept the offer the host will specify a number of cases that must be opened before the bank will call again.

To ensure there is no ambiguity in the players decision, the player must press a button to agree to the bank deal, said button is kept under a shieldbox, so two actions are required for the player to call off the deal, opening the cover, then pressing the button.

The cases to be opend goes down one each time, so if the deal is not taken, they must open 5 of the 19 cases remaining, then a deal will be made, if they don't deal out 4 of the 14 cases remaing must be opened, a deal is made, not taking the deal requires 3 of the 10 cases remainig must be opened, thena deal is made, thenpassing the deal, 2 of the 7 must be opend, then from that point they open one case at a time with a deal made between each case.

The whole idea of the game is knowing when to accept the banker offer. In theory the banker offer will always be lower than what the oddsmakers would say is the thoretcial value of the player case, but the player only gets to play the game once, so just like a casino, the show is in this for the long haul, butthe player needs to maximize short term profit, and with greed and dubious advice from the audience playing along most players can be counted on not to deal out at the best time.

Its an interesting show, and has a web version of the game on their Deal or No Deal site which will give you a better idea of how its played, and how it works,. But I'll tell you its a lot easier to keep hitting No Deal when there is no prize at stake.


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