Deal/No Deal

I just watched the end of a new gameshow on NBCDeal or No Deal. (Not the best strategy for NBC’s homepage, btw – of course I want their homepage!)

Basically, the contestant is presented with a set of 26 boxes, each containing a sum of cash – anywhere from $0.01 to $1,000,000. Over the course of the show, they are invited to eliminate the boxes, one at a time, with the view of going home with the contents of the one remaining box. However every so often, the "banker" will call them, offering to buy them off with a cash value to walk away.

My dad mentioned that there was a similar show airing in the UK, hosted by the Bransonesque Noel Edmonds who, I’m proud to say, has his own cheesy website. (Now awaiting comment from a certain S. Collier in Mid Glamorgan.)

For what it’s worth, the banker is a stereotypical fat guy in a suit, silhouetted with a laptop in an office above the studio floor.

At any time during the show, basic statistics suggest that the contestant’s expected take-home pay is the sum of the contents of the remaining boxes divided by the number of boxes remaining. At the start of the show, this equates to $125,736.

Towards the start of the show, the banker’s offers come in lower than the expected take-home – having eliminated four boxes, a guy on tonight’s show had an expected take-home of $115,000 and was offered a measly buy-out of $7,000. As things progress, and the number of remaining boxes decreases, the banker becomes more of a talking Excel formula, always offering round(sum(boxes)/count(boxes),1000) dollars, or put another way, the expected take-home, rounded up or down to the nearest $1,000.

Over time the show will make money, as long as its advertising revenue (of which there must be a lot, given the number of cliff-hanging decisions that are delayed as a result) is over $125k per show. Tonight’s main contestant got greedy, refusing to take $137,000 (cleverly calculated by our fat banker using the formula above), and walking away with the subsequent offer of $25,000 (again calculated using the formula above, with a cool $500,000 swiped from the numerator and only one taken from the denominator). Unlucky!

In comparison to Millionaire, Deal/No Deal takes the uncertainty out of the equation for the producers, and takes the skill out of the equation for the contestant. Everyone’s a winner.


3 Responses to “Deal/No Deal”

  1. Rob on December 19th, 2005 10:54

    Funny that you equate this show to Millionaire?

    Here in Australia I find 5 minutes of DOND vaguely bearable. Millionaire on the other hand, is completely unbearable and I can’t stand more than 30 seconds of the mind numbing boredom that is watching some poor sap guess, or repeat their confident decision to the charisma void Eddy.

    FWIW, in the Aus version of DOND there is no banker – it’s just a screen which pops up offers – far more realistic. There are other contestants holding briefcases (not boxes) who open them on demand. When asked to open said box, if they guess it’s content they get a grand to take home. OOI the Aussie numbers are 50c-$200,000 (I think – I can’t be bothered to check), slightly less than the USA, but then again, unlike the USD, the AUD is going to be worth something in 10 years šŸ˜‰

  2. Steve on December 19th, 2005 23:19

    I’ve just had a brief look at Noel’s site and there are a few details missing which I’ve endeavoured to outline below to anyone unfamiliar with his work.

    Noel Edmonds is a tidy-bearded, perpetually-smiling, instantly dislikeable DJ/gameshow host whose entire wardrobe consists of an alarming array of brightly-coloured jumpers. So much so that he is forced to clad himself in these crimes-against-knitting for 365 days of the year, and not just the one or two around Christmas when it’s generally deemed acceptable. (See also camp MP and Dictionary-Dell-dweller Gyles Brandreth.)

    Noel’s appearence is so ageless (he’s always looked around 50), you can only imagine there’s a portrait of himself up in the attic, riddled with wrinkles and liver spots and smelling faintly of wee.

    Talking of ‘Castle Edmonds’, Noel’s TV work includes the misleadingly-named Noel’s House Party. Misleading in that it wasn’t actually held in his house, and it wasn’t much of a party. Other entertainment highlights include the Late Late Breakfast Show, where someone died live on air.

    Noel is also responsible for bringing the shambolic and toe-curlingly embarrassing Mr Blobby to British TV screens, thereby undoing fifty years of British comedy overnight. A man in a large, pink, flappy-handed suit, with long eyelashes and a penchant for talking gibberish (not unlike the late Dame Barbara Cartland) was held up as the pinacle of UK mirth by many a humourless pikey with an IQ less than their shoe size.

    “Blobby” once appeared on Larry King Live. I’ve never seen the footage, but shudder to think of what might have happened. If anyone’s seen it, I’d be intrigued to know. My only hope is that he was tackled by over-zealous air marshals on the return flight as a potential threat to airline security and torn limb from limb before being pumped full of lead and subsequently stashed in the cargo hold for the remainder of the journey.

  3. Atul on March 6th, 2006 13:44

    Nice blog. I stumbled upon it from google. I also blogged about this game show, but it was neat of you to figure out the expected value at the outset of the show. Not that it’s that hard, I just didn’t feel like doing it.


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