As a young child (age 5 or younger, I believe) I was addicted to game shows. I was the biggest fan of the original Card Sharks (with host Jim Perry) and The Joker’s Wild (with host Jack Barry). The Game Show Network shows episodes of Card Sharks each morning at 8:30, and since I began getting the station in April, I haven’t missed an episode.
You may remember how Card Sharks worked, but in case you need a refresher, here you go:
Two contestants would answer questions along the lines of “We surveyed a 100 working mothers…” The first contestant would guess how many working mothers answered the question a certain way, the second contestant would then guess if the answer was higher or lower. The contestants were encouraged to expound on why they answered the way they did, which was often amusing, especially when they had no clue what they were talking about. Their answer would inevitably begin with, “Well, these days…” Whoever won the question then got “control of the cards.” Each contestant had five giant cards and the goal was to work their way down the row of cards declaring whether each card was higher or lower than the previous. If the player won the question, they could change the base card (generally done when the card was between a 7 and a 10) if they wanted. Each game had up to four questions, with the final question being “sudden death” (the winner of the question either had to call the rest of their cards correctly or pass to their opponent and hope that they didn’t). It was a best of three games, with the third being a tie-breaker with only three cards and up to three questions.
The winner of the best of three games would then go onto the really fun part — the money cards. This involved betting money and going through eight cards in the standard higher-lower fashion. The player began on the first row with $200 and the option to change the first card. They’d call higher/lower three times, betting a minimum of $50 each time. At the end of the first row (or if the person “busted”), the card would then be brought up to the second level. The player would get another $200 and an option to change the card. At that point, they went through three more cards and the final card was brought up to the top row, the “Big Bet,” which required a minimum 50% bet. The contestant could also change the card here. The maximum amount one could win on the money cards was $28,800 and in the three-year run of the original Card Sharks, it only happened once.
I was so addicted to this game as a kid, that I would make houseguests play the game with me anytime they visited. I’m surprised people didn’t slap me with how annoying I must have become. I honestly think, though, that I would totally clean up if I were to go on that show today.
A couple years ago, my mom was in some random store in West Chester, PA and found a copy of the old Card Sharks game for the PC (on 3.5″ floppy) for 25 cents. Thankfully she bought it for me — at least I can pretend.
Interesting facts/links… Markie Post got her start as a card-turner on Card Sharks before she went on to Night Court… Apparently someone’s considering making a new version of Card Sharks titled Play Your Cards Right (ugh!)… there is a shareware version of Card Sharks available for DOS… there’s also one for Macintosh… a couple pages to check out: The Card Sharks page, The Card Sharks Photo Page (all from the Bob Eubanks era, though).
Next time around, I tackle The Joker’s Wild. -ram
Posted in Television, Movies, and Music