What’s the Dealio?

I’m watching the season premiere of “Deal or No Deal” on NBC right now, and contrary to my assumption before having seen it, it’s much more entertaining than you would expect.

Essentially, contestants are given a 1 in 25 chance of winning $1,000,000 (or in tonight’s supersized Howie Mandeltastic premiere, $3,000,000). The stage is populated by 25 women holding 25 briefcases, with each briefcase containing a dollar amount from $0.01 to $1,000,000. Each contestant chooses a briefcase to set aside at the start of their play, and then by eliminating briefcases in diminishing sets, the player whittles down the possible amounts that could be contained in his or her own briefcase. After each set of briefcases is revealed, the ‘bank’ (read ‘producer’) offers to buy the contestant’s briefcase for an amount based on the possible value of said briefcase.

So essentially, there is no skill involved. It’s basically a game of chance where the odds of winning the top prize start at 1 in 25 and get better as long as the top prize is still on the board. (I assume the amount offered by the bank after each round is determined by a function of the remaining dollar amounts, but I’m about 5 years removed from being nerdy enough and having enough time to determine if this is so’ Maybe I’ll look into it later’)

Normally, I have no interest in games of strict chance. Bingo doesn’t interest me; roulette seems like a waste of time. Blackjack fares slightly better, but only if I am actively trying to count cards, which I’m not good enough at to be a threat. But for some reason, ‘Deal or No Deal’ has kept me sitting in front of the TV for the last hour. It could be that Howie’s more likeable than I expected (didn’t he have a really lame talkshow a few years back? Ironically, the odds of that are pretty good), or it could be the character of the people who have played the game so far (a self-proclaimed ‘ghetto Reverend’ and a teamster that is as wide as he is tall), or it could just be that I can’t take my eyes off of Howie’s soul patch.

Howie Mandel's Soul Patch

Admit it; you can’t look away either.


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