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Card Sharks is an American television game show created by Chester Feldman for Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions. Based on the card game Acey Deucey, the game has two contestants compete for control of a row of oversized playing cards by answering questions posed by the host and then guessing if the next card is higher or lower in value than the previous one. The title Card Sharks is a play on the term "card sharp", a person skilled at card games.
|Created by||Chester Feldman|
|Based on||Acey Deucey|
|Theme music composer|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes|
|Running time||22–26 minutes (1978–2002)|
42–46 minutes (2019–)
|Picture format||NTSC (1978–2001)|
HDTV 720p (2019–)
|Audio format||Mono (NBC)|
5.1 surround sound (ABC)
|Original release||April 24, 1978 –|
The concept has been made into a series four separate times since its debut in 1978, and also appeared as part of CBS's Gameshow Marathon. The show originally ran on NBC from 1978 to 1981 with Jim Perry hosting. The show returned and ran from 1986 to 1989 on CBS with Bob Eubanks as host, accompanied by a syndication production with Bill Rafferty. Gene Wood was the announcer in both the 1970s and 1980s. Another syndicated production aired in 2001 with Pat Bullard as host and Gary Kroeger as announcer. A weekly primetime version premiered on June 12, 2019, on ABC, with Joel McHale as host. Each production has featured various assistants to handle the playing cards.
On November 20, 2019, the series was renewed for a second season. From March 13, 2020 to July 3, 2020, the show suspended production as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. This resulted in the season two premiere being delayed to October 18, 2020.
This section needs to be updated. The reason given is: Rules for the 2019 version of the show need to be explained in detail.(June 2019)
Two contestants are assigned separate oversized decks of 52 playing cards, which the contestants themselves cut before each game (offscreen prior to 2019), and are dealt the first several cards for their row. The champion (or champion-designate if there were two new contestants) played the red cards on top while the challenger played the blue cards on the bottom. Each contestant's row of cards had a bracket atop it with their name on it, which was used to mark their "base cards".
Contestants alternate responding to questions to gain control of the cards. In all versions from 1978 to 1989, the returning champion usually was selected to go first; if there were two new contestants, a backstage coin toss determines the player who sits in the champion's position. The 2019 revival instead has both contestants cut their decks onstage and show the resulting bottom card; the contestant with the higher card goes first.
Similarly to another Goodson-Todman game show, Family Feud, survey questions are posed to groups of 100 people, all of whom are typically in a common demographic group of the same profession, marital status, etc. (e.g., "We asked 100 teachers, 'Has a student ever given you an apple?' How many said they have?"). Contestants are asked to predict how many of those 100 people responded in a specific manner. Their opponent is then asked whether he or she thinks the actual number is higher or lower than the previous contestant's response. The actual number is then revealed, and if the opponent is correct, they play their cards first; otherwise, the contestant to whom the question was posed plays first.
The contestant who wins the question is shown the first card in their row of seven (five from 1978 to 1989 and ten in the first season of the 2019 revival) and can either keep it or replace it with the next card off the top of their individual deck, which he or she is then required to play. The contestant then guesses whether the next card in the row is higher or lower, and continues to do so as long as he or she guesses correctly. If the next card is the same rank as the previous, or if the contestant makes an incorrect guess, that contestant loses control and whatever cards they have played are discarded and replaced. The opposing contestant then has a chance to play from his or her base card, without the opportunity to exchange first. Either contestant can also elect to "freeze" their position if they are unsure of the next card. This prevents the opponent from playing and resets the contestant's base card to the frozen card, and whatever cards that were turned in that instance are not discarded.
If neither contestant has guessed all the cards in his or her row correctly, or if one has frozen his or her position, play continues with another toss-up question, with the opposing contestant providing the initial numerical guess. In all versions from 1978 to 1989, as well as the Gameshow Marathon episode, the first two games consisted of a maximum of four questions each, and the third tie-breaker game contained a maximum of three questions; since 2019, only one game is played per match, with a maximum of five survey questions. If the contestants still have not cleared their row of cards prior to the last question of the round, that question is played as "sudden death". The winner of the sudden death question can either play their cards—and change their base card if they desired—or pass to their opponent, who has to play without the option to change the base card. If either contestant guesses incorrectly, their opponent automatically wins the game.
In all versions from 1978 to 1989, as well as the Gameshow Marathon episode, matches were best two-out-of-three, with the third game being played with three cards per contestant and a maximum of three high-low questions. Each game win was worth $100. The 2019 revival removes the "best two-out-of-three" aspect, with only one game now being played per match; whoever wins the game now receives $10,000 to use as a starting stake in the Money Cards.
In the 1980–1981 season, a $500 bonus was awarded to any contestant who provided the exact number of people responding to a specific question, a rule that was modified in the 1986–89 version. In the final few months of 1981, if a contestant was able to complete their row of five cards successfully without freezing or guessing wrong once, he or she won a $500 bonus. These bonuses were guaranteed regardless of the outcome of the overall match, meaning a contestant keeps the cash bonus regardless of winning or losing.
The 1986–89 version added two new varieties of questions in addition to the traditional survey questions. The traditional surveys could also be conducted with a group of ten in the studio audience who shared a characteristic (e.g., ten single women, ten security guards, ten people over 80). Because the odds of being exact were much higher (1:10 compared to 1:100), the exact guess bonus for this type of question was reduced to $100, and the group of ten shared a $100 bonus. The same poll group was used for a week's worth of episodes. The other change was to add general knowledge trivia questions into the game beginning in October 1986. Known as "educated guess questions," the contestant in control gives a numerical answer to the question, similar to a survey, but often much higher numerals that had to be posted as a Chyron on the screen instead of being on the contestant's podium. The opponent, as usual, must guess higher or lower than the answer. Exact guesses won a $500 bonus for the contestant.
The 1986–87 syndicated version introduced prize cards that were shuffled into the deck. If a card was revealed, that contestant was credited with the prize and claimed it if he or she won the game. The next card from the top of the contestant's deck replaced the prize card, and the contestant continued playing. At this time, the maximum questions per game were changed to a 4–3–2 format. Shortly thereafter, game #1 was also changed to a three question maximum, moving to a 3–3–2 format. However, all games reverted to the 4–4–3 format by December 1986. Also, contestants only won the prizes claimed for winning the match, or $100 if no prize cards were found during gameplay.
In 1988, the tie-breaker round changed to a single sudden death question. The controlling contestant was shown both base cards before being given the option to play the cards (and change their base card if desired) or pass to the opponent (who had to play without changing). As before, if either contestant guessed incorrectly, their opponent automatically won the match.
The 2019 version added percentage questions in addition to the traditional survey questions; otherwise, gameplay remains the same. There are no cash bonuses offered for an exact guess.
The winner of the main game plays the Money Cards bonus game. The original board consisted of a series of eight cards dealt out on three levels; the 2001 revival changed this to seven cards. The champion is staked with a dollar amount before the round begins and wagers money on each card prior to calling higher or lower. Prior to 2001, the player was staked with $200 prior to the round; the 2001 revival raised this to $700. The 2019 revival has the contestant wager with the $10,000 he or she received for winning the main game.
After calling the first three cards, the last card in the row was moved to the first position in the second row, and the contestant received an additional $200 to wager with the next three cards. The last card in the third row was moved to the first position in the top row, and the contestant made a wager for the final card. The minimum bet for each card was $50 ($100 in the 2001 revival), except for the final card, the "Big Bet" (renamed "Major Wager" for the 2001 revival), where the contestant was required to wager at least half of the money earned thus far.
If a contestant lost all of the money banked and busted on the first row, the last card called was moved to the first position on the second row and the contestant received another $200 to wager with the final four cards. If the contestant busted after moving to the second row, the round ended.
If a contestant wagered their entire bank on each card and made a correct prediction each time, the maximum payout was stated to be $28,800 on the original 1970s series, $32,000 on both 1980s series, $51,800 on the 2001 series, and $640,000 on the 2019 series. As of 2021, the only contestant that has successfully achieved this feat is Norma Brown, who won $28,800 in 1978.
On the NBC version, a champion was allowed a maximum of seven wins. On the CBS series, champions were retired either by reaching five wins or surpassing the network’s winnings limit.
Starting in 2019, the player's winnings are represented in oversized $500, $1,000, $5,000, $10,000, and $25,000 chips. The board is now a single row of seven cards, with no additional money given halfway through. Players are given the chance to change any one card during the round. Players are required to physically place chips equal to their bet on a table in front of them on sections labeled "HIGHER" or "LOWER". Prior to the last card, players must bet at least $1,000 on each card. Players who reach the last card without busting are given the option to "cash out" and quit with their current winnings rather than play the final card. If they elect to play, they must gamble at least half their bank on the last card. The maximum possible winnings is $640,000.
Duplicate cards were originally counted as incorrect guesses. Starting on October 20, 1980, a duplicate was regarded as a 'push'; the contestant did not lose his or her wager, and moved to the next card. The 'push' rule remained intact until late in the 2001 revival's run. For the first season of the 2019 revival, the "push" rule was reverted but it was later reinstated in the second season.
Initially, contestants could only change their base card on the bottom level of the board, at the start of the round. This was later altered to allow the contestant to change the base card on each new line of cards if they so desired.
During the 1986–89 version, three extra cards ( known as "spare cards" ) were positioned to the left of the Money Cards board. These cards could be used initially any time to change an undesired card, even to change the same card multiple times, but during the run was later amended to allow only one change per line at any point in the line. The additional amount awarded for moving to the second line increased from $200 to $400. This changed the maximum potential payout to $32,000.
Players can change exactly one card, anywhere on the line, in the 2019 version.
Beginning in the fall of 1986, champions were also given an opportunity to win a new car following the Money Cards round. The car round made its debut on the syndicated series shortly after its debut, with the daytime series adopting the round in October 1986.
Three jokers were shuffled into the Money Cards deck. If a joker was uncovered, it was replaced with the next card from the top of the deck, and the contestant was given an additional chance to win a car. To ensure the contestant had one opportunity at winning the car, they were given one free joker at the onset of the Money Cards.
Following the Money Cards, a row of seven new cards were shown to the contestant, behind one of which was the word "Car". Using the joker(s) from the Money Cards, the contestant designated the cards of their choice. If one of the cards selected revealed the word "Car", the contestant won a new vehicle in addition to any money and prizes won earlier. The same car was featured for an entire week of five shows. During the special weeks when children played, the top prize was a trip to Hawaii and the children were given two jokers to start.
In July 1988, the bonus changed to feature an audience poll question similar to those used in the main game. The contestant was read the question and registered their guess on a board with a range from zero to ten. If the contestant made a correct prediction, they won the car. If their guess was off by one, the contestant won another $500.
The daytime series had no limit on how many cars a champion could win. The syndicated series, however, did and it was adjusted multiple times over the course of its lone season. When the car game was first introduced, General Motors provided the show with high end luxury cars such as various Cadillac marques and the Chevrolet Corvette. Winning one of these retired the champion immediately. Later on, GM began offering more mid-priced sports cars as prizes, such as the Chevrolet Camaro or the Pontiac Firebird. Once these were introduced, a contestant was able to win multiple cars; the limit was set at three but no champion won more than two. Finally, at the midway point of the season, the show began featuring cars from American Motors; this led to cars like the Renault Alliance, Jeep Wrangler, and Jeep Cherokee being offered. A strict limit of two was set when this change was made.
The original Card Sharks aired on NBC from April 24, 1978 to October 23, 1981, hosted by Jim Perry; it was the first new Goodson-Todman game show to debut on NBC since the end of the original Match Game in September 1969. From its debut until June 20, 1980, Card Sharks aired at 10:00 am (ET)/9:00 am (CT/MT/PT). The series was one of the few respectably-rated programs (daytime or otherwise) on NBC under Fred Silverman's tenure as network president, which at the time was struggling to gain ratings in both daytime and primetime. After a scheduling shuffle necessitated by the debut of The David Letterman Show on June 23, 1980, Card Sharks moved to noon/11:00 am, a timeslot where it first faced The $20,000 Pyramid, which was in its last week of its run, and then from June 30 on, the top-rated game show in daytime, Family Feud on ABC; the first half of The Young and the Restless in certain markets on CBS; and pre-emptions on local affiliates due to many stations electing to air local newscasts, talk shows, or other syndicated programming in the noon hour. Card Sharks remained in the noon/11:00 slot until its final episode aired on October 23, 1981.
The CBS version of Card Sharks debuted at 10:30/9:30 am January 6, 1986, as a replacement for Body Language, and stayed in that timeslot for its entire run; Press Your Luck relocated to the latter show's old 4:00/3:00 pm slot to make room for Card Sharks. Until January 1987, Card Sharks faced off against its original host Jim Perry's game show Sale of the Century on NBC in the time slot; Sale of the Century was moved to 10:00 am that year. Blockbusters (with the then-host of the syndicated Card Sharks, Bill Rafferty) and then Alex Trebek's Classic Concentration followed as competition for Card Sharks. This version ended its run on March 31, 1989, and was replaced by a short-lived version of Now You See It. The new host of the CBS version was Bob Eubanks; the host of the British adaptation, Bruce Forsyth, was at one point being considered for the job as well, after having a short-lived game show in the US on ABC, Bruce Forsyth's Hot Streak (Forsyth would eventually host Play Your Cards Right, the British adaptation of the series). Patrick Wayne was also considered for the job.
The syndicated series debuted on September 8, 1986, replacing The Nighttime Price Is Right. Bill Rafferty was host of this version. For the first half of the season, this syndicated Card Sharks series had fairly decent clearances, but this changed due to the show's ratings struggles in an overcrowded syndicated game show market. At the midseason point, the syndicated Card Sharks disappeared from quite a few of its markets, while many stations that continued to air it moved it to very undesirable late-night and early morning timeslots. The series continued to air until June 5, 1987, in the markets that kept it, with re-runs airing until September 11 of that year. Plans were to replace Card Sharks with the return of the Match Game with original host Gene Rayburn, but these plans never came to fruition.
The Pat Bullard-hosted 2001 series debuted on September 17, 2001 (though as it launched the week after the September 11 attacks, was subject to pre-emption by several stations for news coverage) and aired new episodes until December 14, 2001. Four weeks of re-runs aired following that, and the series was cancelled altogether on January 11, 2002. In most of its markets the 2001 Card Sharks was either paired with or aired on the same station as one or both of the Pearson Television-produced shows that were airing at the time, To Tell the Truth or Family Feud.
For this version, two best-of-three matches were played per episode, each with two new contestants. No questions were asked; instead, a random draw was held backstage to determine who had initial control, with the option to pass or play after seeing the first card. A single row of seven cards was used, and a mistake by one contestant gave control to the other. Both contestants were given two "Clip Chips" at the start of the match, which could be used to allow the one in control to change the last exposed card by correctly predicting the outcome of a pre-recorded video segment. Each game was worth $500 and could be won either by a correct guess on the last card, or by default if the opponent missed it. If the contestants tied at one game each, the deciding game was played using three cards.
The winners of the two matches competed against one another in one seven-card game referred to as the "Big Deal," and could use any Clip Chips they still had. The winner received an additional $1,100, bringing their total up to $2,100, and advanced to the Money Cards. Losing contestants in either the matches or the Big Deal kept any money they had won.
For the Money Cards round, six cards were dealt out in three rows: three on the bottom row, two in the middle, one on the top. The contestant's $2,100 was divided into three equal stakes of $700, one of which was added to their total upon starting each row. Only the initial card on each row could be changed. The minimum bet was $100 for every card except the one on the top row (the "Major Wager") which required the contestant to risk at least half their total. A contestant could win up to $51,800 in this round.
Gameshow Marathon (2006, CBS)Edit
On June 15, 2006, Card Sharks was the fifth of seven classic game shows featured in CBS's month-long Gameshow Marathon hosted by Ricki Lake and announced by Rich Fields as it was one of the "semifinal rounds" in the tournament. The contestants were Brande Roderick and Paige Davis.
The set was modeled after the original 1978–81 production. In the Money Cards, the winner earned $1,000 for each row, for a possible $144,000. Roderick won $6,000 in the bonus round.
In the car game, unlike the 1986–89 version, the game was changed where 10 people were polled (cheerleaders in this episode) were called up for another poll question. This time, the rules were fixed and were made easier with the contestant simply having to say whether the number of people who did do what they were asked (e.g., "We asked these cheerleaders, 'Have you ever dated someone from a rival school?' How many of these 10 cheerleaders said they had dated someone from a rival school?") was a number higher or lower than 5. A card from the blue deck was shown lying face down and was brought out with the numerical value of the people who said "yes". The card was then revealed after the contestant's guess was made and if the value matched the contestant's guess, then the car was won. Roderick won $10,000 along with a BMW M Roadster (worth $40,445) for a grand total of $50,445 for the home viewer.
On March 13, 2019, Vulture reported that ABC is partnering with Fremantle to reboot the series, with pre-production on new hour-long episodes of Card Sharks and Press Your Luck being underway and taping slated to begin sometime in the spring. Scott St. John (a producer on Match Game) has been named as the executive producer. Airing on ABC makes Card Sharks one of only a handful of shows (joining To Tell the Truth, The Price Is Right, and Match Game) to have at one point or another aired on all three of the Big Three television networks.
The 2019 version features similar rules as the 1978–81 and 1986–89 iterations, with two new players competing in the main game and no returning champions. A separate row of seven cards is dealt for each player, and a maximum of five questions are asked, with the fifth (if necessary) played under sudden-death rules. The winner is decided by a single victory instead of a best-of-three match. During the first season, the number of cards per row was ten.
The Money Cards round is played using a single line of seven cards. The player is staked with $10,000, presented as five chips worth $1,000 each and one worth $5,000, and the first card is turned over to start the game. One card may be changed before any turn in this round. The player's wager is added to his/her total for a correct guess, and subtracted for an incorrect one. In Season 1, the player lost the wager if a card of the same rank was turned up; as of Season 2, this situation is counted as a "push," with no money won or lost. The player must bet a multiple of $1,000 on every card except the last; at this point, he/she may either end the game and keep all winnings or bet at least half the total as a multiple of $500. For this final turn, the player may trade in a $1,000 chip for two $500 chips so that he/she can bet exactly half the total if desired. The round ends immediately if the player goes broke. The maximum potential payout is $640,000.
Gene Wood was the primary announcer on both the original and 1980s Card Sharks, with Charlie O'Donnell and Bob Hilton serving as occasional substitutes. Jack Narz, Jay Stewart, and Johnny Olson also served as substitutes for NBC, and Johnny Gilbert and Rod Roddy also served as substitutes for CBS. Gary Kroeger was the announcer in 2001, and Rich Fields was the announcer of the Gameshow Marathon episode.
The theme for the NBC version was previously used on the Goodson-Todman series Double Dare with host Alex Trebek that aired in 1976 on CBS. Edd Kalehoff wrote that theme through Score Productions, and the theme for the 1980s version of Card Sharks through his own production company. Alan Ett and Scott Liggett composed the 2001 series theme. A revived version of the original theme is used for the current revival.
Ann Pennington, Janice Baker, Lois Areno, Kristin Bjorklund, Melinda Hunter, and Markie Post all served as models on NBC. Lacey Pemberton and Suzanna Williams were the models on the concurrent CBS and syndication runs in the 1980s, and Tami Roman was the model in 2001.
- The first Card Sharks home game was a computer-based video game released by Sharedata, Inc. and Softie, Inc. in 1988 for the Apple II and Commodore 64 units and all IBM compatible computers. Although the host was based on Jim Perry, the game's logo and gameplay were based on the 1986–89 format, using the single sudden-death question tiebreaker in the main game. If a contestant got an exact guess on a question in the main game, he or she won a $100 bonus, instead of the $500 bonus on the show. Also, unlike the show, the game did not use the educated guess or audience poll questions.
- Endless Games published a Card Sharks home game in 2002 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the series at the time. It used visual designs based on the 2001 production while its gameplay was based on the 1986 format of the series, prior to the car game being introduced. 18 years later, in 2020; they published another Card Sharks home game, but only this time it was based on the current ABC version hosted by Joel McHale as of which, he's also on the cover of the box. This version celebrates the 40 year old history of the show.
- Software for mobile phones was released on June 1, 2005 by Telescope Inc., which also used the logo from 2001 to 2002; its theme music was a remix of the 1978–81 version, the rules and gameplay were based from a variety of the 1970s and 1980s variants. More survey questions were also available for download.
- A single-player online game was released by the now defunct website uproar.com. The logo and set were similar to its 2001–02 counterpart while its gameplay (minus the poll questions) was very similar to the 1970s and 1980s counterparts. However, as of September 30, 2006, the website no longer offered any game show-based games of any kind.
- The now defunct website Gameshow24.com had an online version of Card Sharks in 2004. Its logo and set were based on the original 1978–81 format, and the main theme song had a unique mixture of both the 1978 and 2001 productions, and like its Uproar.com counterpart it had no poll questions either, but its gameplay was very similar to that of The Price Is Right where players have to guess grocery items that were 'higher' or 'lower' than the ones that precede them. The show was also similar to The Price Is Right in that it used various sound effects and theme music from The Price Is Right at various points, such as playing the infamous losing horn for a bust or for failing to win the car in the bonus round during the Eubanks and Rafferty eras.
- In 2021, a brand new online version of Card Sharks was released by the casual gaming website called Arkadium where it mostly plays like the Perry, Eubanks/Rafferty versions from the 70s & 80s (along with their theme songs from '86 & '78) respectively, but just like the current McHale version on ABC from season 2, it had seven rows of playing cards for the champion (red) & challenger (blue) to play with instead of five.
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- Card Sharks | Instantly Play Online For Free - Arkadium
- Card Sharks (1978) at IMDb (US)
- Card Sharks (2001) at IMDb (US)
- Play Your Cards Right (1980) at IMDb (UK)
- Play Your Cards Right (1984) at IMDb (Australia)
- Hoger, Lager (1983) at IMDb (Belgium)
- Bube, Dame, Hörig (1996) at IMDb (Germany)
- Jogo de Cartas (1989–1991) at IMDb (Portugal)
- Card Sharks/Play Your Cards Right @ pearsontv
- Card Sharks production website @ FremantleMedia
- description of Bube, Dame, Hörig the 1996–1999 (German) version of "Card Sharks" courtesy of Grundy Light Entertainment (Germany)
- from the original "German" website[permanent dead link]
- on YouTube
- on YouTube
- de cartas (1989) description of "Jogo de Cartas" 1989–1990 (Portuguese) version of "Card Sharks" courtesy of Brinca Brincando
- de cartas (1991) description of "Jogo de Cartas" 1991–1992 (Portuguese) version of "Card Sharks" courtesy of Brinca Brincando[permanent dead link]
- on YouTube