Deal or no deal

What’s the deal with this show?

Sorry, I had to…

Really though - this thing seems like watching paint dry. Watching a series of briefcases opened over the course of about half an hour each, with lots of overwrought drama. Apparently, this show has been a hit for 3 years now in Australia. I don’t understand it…

Accidentally saw it when I stopped by at a friend’s house tonight. I don’t get it, either. They open a briefcase with $500,000 in it, the second-highest amount, and everyone goes AAAAUHGAUGUAAUGHH and I’m like What? And then there’s Howie Mandell put through the Dweezil Zappanator, and a bank that keeps calling(?) and then the lady’s daughters call in for the Hell of it, and her dad looks like Francis Dolarhyde from Red Dragon. It was all very surreal.


We’ve had to cope with it for the last three years, now it’s your turn! :D
Though our highest amount is only $200 000. Clearly they needed the million in the US to make it more exciting.

But yeah, there’s no skill, save knowing when to play the odds, and when to walk away. How long do they try to pull it out over there? It’s only a half hour show here.

I have never understood the appeal of this show but my wife loves it.
On behalf of the citizens of Australia who appreciate good entertainment, I wish to apologize for this shit.

Aren’t you guys all ex-criminals or something?

Maybe that explains it.

The only reason why the British started using Australia as a penal colony is because the Americas were already full up.

I watched one episode and was waiting for the ‘gameshow’ to get started because surely picking numbers at random and then taking a fake call on a Barbie phone is just the preliminary stages. Then they unload the friends and family on us and we have to endure banter and rooting for numbers. I do not get it.

Lamest idea ever. No wonder it is so popular.

I watched it last night and kind of found it interesting, although it’s pure gambling and there’s no skill involved, merely playing the odds. Here’s the deal:

The contestant chooses one of the many briefcases and it gets set aside, but he can’t open it. That briefcase can have an amount of money in it ranging from $1 to $1,000,000. There are only X number of cases for him to choose from. This is money he can potentially win.

Now, he chooses a case from among the ones that are left. The amount in that case is now eliminated – on the big board they have all the possible amounts listed, and they now unhighlight that amount. So for instance, if the case he eliminated has, say, $200,000, he, the audience, and the banker now know that the case he initially chose does not contain $200,000. He then chooses another case. Let’s say it has $50. Now we know that the case he chose and set aside does not have $50 in it.

Every time he eliminates a few cases, we – him, the audience, and the banker – know the odds of there being some large amount in the first case he chose. So for instance, if he picks a case to eliminate and they open it and see that it had the $1,000,000 in it, he knows that he cannot win $1,000,000 because it’s not in the case he chose, since that amount has been eliminated from the remaining cases. So the hope for the contestant is that he initially chose a case – randomly – with a large amount of money in it.

Now, here’s where the banker comes in. Every few cases the banker will call down and offer the contestant money for walking away from the game. For instance, if the contestant has chosen 10 cases to eliminate and they’ve all been the low dollar amounts, then there’s a high chance that his set-aside case has a big-ticket dollar amount in it. So the banker might offer him, say, $100,000 to walk away from the game. So, he looks at the odds and decides if he wants to continue trying to eliminate cases or just take the deal. If he eliminates more cases and they all turn out to be the high dollar ones, the banker now knows that the case he chose will have a low dollar amount in it and he can offer the contestant significantly lower money to walk away from the game, and the contestant will also realize that he probably should have taken the deal. But if the next few cases that he eliminates contain the lower dollar amounts, he knows with more certainty that his case may have a high dollar amount, and the banker will up the amount of money in the next deal to walk away.

There’s no skill involved, and the banker generally just offers money that matches the odds – i.e., if there’s a 1 in 3 chance that the case the guy chose contains, say, $200,000, the banker will offer $67,000 to walk away from the game (since he’s got a 67% chance of winning $200,000 instead).

Actually it’s slightly more complex than that.

For each contestant, early on, the ‘banker offers’ are much smaller than the ‘expected value’ of the briefcases. To give a simplified example, if there are 10 cases, 9 of them worthless, and 1 with $1 million, then the expected value of the (unknown) case is $100,000. But at that point, with 10 cases left, the banker will offer only maybe $35,000. So most people, even if they don’t get the math precisely right, turn down the early offers.

As the game progresses, the Banker’s offer gets close to, and, at least last night, equaled the present value of the cases. Most people are risk averse and will take the guaranteed sum at that stage (or even somewhat earlier, when there is a modest penalty versus the expected value).

Still, other than seeing how risk averse (or not) some people are, and watching their goofy friends give odd advice, there’s not much to this show. I really liked Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, because you could always play along and see if you knew the answers better than the contestant. But Deal is such a simplistic game that I have no real interest in playing along.

I guess this show is the distallation of greed to its most basic. I haven’t watched the show, but it seems like its a million dollar version of Let’s Make a Deal without goofy costumes and the charm of Monty Hall.

Even the Freakonomics guy has commented on this show:

I just want to know what network executive thought it was a good idea to put Mandel back on the air looking like that. I swear to god I had a nightmare a few nights ago where he was chasing me with a pair of pliers while threatening me in that squeaky “Bobby” voice he built his pathetic self-parodying career on.

It puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again…

The premise sounds interesting, but Mandel’s presence really kills any enthusiasm I had to check it out.

Yeah. He still does that goddamned hand-twisty thing from his stand-up days.

My mom and grandmom seem to love it, I think it’s pretty boring. I really love it when the people talk to the models even though they have no control in the case, and they could be replaced by a computer monitor.

Also is it just me or does Howie look like he’s in a cult or something with that shaved head? That freaked me out when I saw it.

Why is this guy not pumping gas somewhere? He’s not funny, he’s annoying, and no one has fond memories of him. Hell, Gary Coleman would work better.