Gambit Titlecard
CBS Daytime, September 4, 1972-December 10, 1976
Run time
30 Minutes
Wink Martindale
Elaine Stewart
Kenny Williams
Studio 31, 33, 41, 43, CBS Television City, Los Angeles, California

Gambit was a game show based on blackjack.

Game FormatEdit

The object of the game was that of blackjack: come as close to 21 as possible without going over (or "busting"). As in blackjack, the cards 2 through 10 were worth their face value; face cards (Kings, Queens and Jacks) counted as 10 and an Ace could count as either 1 or 11.

Martindale asked a series of questions, usually multiple-choice or true-false, to two married couples. The first couple who buzzed in and correctly answered the question won control of the next card from the top of a deck of over-sized (but otherwise regulation) playing cards. The first card was shown before the first question, but cards thereafter were presented face down.

Once a couple gained control of a card, they had the option of adding it to their own hand or passing it to their opponents. After a couple received any card (whether by choice or by having a card passed to them from their opponents), they could elect to freeze, preventing them from receiving any more cards (neither team was permitted to freeze when the two were tied). This rule prevented their opponents from passing cards to them in order to strategically force them to bust.

A couple could win the game in one of four ways:

  • Reaching 21, which not only won the game but the Gambit Jackpot, which started at $500 and increased by that amount at the start of each day. After being won, the jackpot reset to $500.
  • Winning by default after the opponents exceed 21 ("busted"), even if the winners had no cards.
  • Freezing, after which the opponents miss a question before getting a higher score and without going over 21.
  • Having the opponents freeze, then getting a higher score without going over 21.

Each game was worth $100. The first team to win two games won the match and advanced to the bonus round.

Bonus Round (Gambit Board)Edit

The winning couple played the Gambit Bonus Board for more cash and prizes including a new car. They faced a large game board with 21 numbered cards, each concealing a prize. After selecting a number, the couple received a prize and a card added to their hand from the top of the deck.

The board also hid special features:

  • Half-Checks: Showed cash amounts from $500 to $10,000 that had been split down the middle. Each right half showed two zeroes, while each left half showed the first digit(s) of the amount (for example, "$2,5" left and "00" right = $2,500). Any left and right halves could be matched together, crediting the couple with that amount of money. If a couple ended a bonus game without busting and had an unmatched half-check, they held onto it and would try to find the matching half if they won their next match.
  • "Suit" Cards: Displayed one of the four playing card suits. The couple won $500 immediately, plus an additional $500 for each card in the matching suit that they either had in their hand at the time or were dealt during the rest of the round.
  • Hot Card: A card whose rank was kept hidden until the round was over. The couple won $1,000 if they had a card of this rank in their hand, or $100 otherwise.
  • Swap: Allowed the couple to trade in one of their prizes for another pick from the board after the round ended, if they chose to do so. This award did not add a card to the couple's hand.
  • Take Two: Allowed the couple to choose two numbers on their next turn.
  • 100/200/500 Times: After the round ended, one card was dealt from the deck and its value was multiplied by the indicated number in dollars. Aces always counted as 11 in this respect, for a maximum of $1,100, $2,200, or $5,500.
  • Top or Bottom: A blind choice between two prizes of a similar type, one of which was considerably more expensive than the other. "Cruise," for example, could award a cruise to either the Caribbean or Catalina Island.
  • Stop or Go: After the round ended, cards were dealt out one at a time, each worth $100 times its value (with aces counted as 11). The couple could stop at any time, but if a card came up that matched the suit of the first one dealt, the game ended and they lost the accumulated money.
  • Beat the Dealer: After the round ended without a bust, the couple played a hand of traditional blackjack against Martindale, who acted as the house and had to follow standard rules (hit on 16 or lower, stand on 17 or higher). If the couple won, they received an additional $2,500.

The bonus game ended in one of three ways:

  • The couple elected to stop before reaching 21 (especially if they feared the next card would push them over 21 or in some instances, if they won a desirable prize they wanted to keep), keeping all the prizes they chose to that point.
  • Going over 21, at which point they lost everything they found on the board.
  • Reaching 21 exactly, wherein they won a new car as well as the money in the Gambit Jackpot and the prizes selected.

Returning champions continued until winning a grand total of $25,000, relinquishing any winnings over that amount.

From 1972 to 1975, the show featured an annual promotion where the first couple to get a two-card 21 (an Ace and a face card/10) in the bonus round won either $200 a week for a year (totaling $10,400) or a flat $10,000, depending on the year.

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).


International VersionsEdit

Main Article: Gambit/International





Artworks Edit

Credit: Adam Nedeff for the card scans. Digitized via Photoshop.

Card back Edit

Face cards Edit

Episode StatusEdit


See AlsoEdit

Gambit (1979)
Las Vegas Gambit
Gambit (1985)
Gambit (1990)


Curt Alliaume's Game Shows '75: Gambit
Rules for Gambit @
Gambit @ Game Show Galaxy