Syndicated, September 14, 1987-September 9, 1988
|Studio 41, CBS Television City, Los Angeles, California|
This is chronicling the 1987 version of High Rollers.
Two contestants competed. The object was to remove the numbers 1 through 9 from a game board by rolling an oversized pair of dice. High Rollers was modeled on a traditional board game called Shut the Box.
In order to determine who gained control of the dice, the host asked a toss-up question. The answers were usually multiple choice, true/false, or "Yes" or "No". A contestant who buzzed in with the correct answer, or whose opponent answered incorrectly, earned the chance to either roll the dice, or pass and force the opponent to roll. The controlling contestant usually chose to roll only early in a game. All numbers were good on the first roll of the game. Passing to the opponent became more common as the game progressed, with fewer good rolls left on the board. A contestant who made a bad roll (one which could not be made with the remaining numbers) lost the game. However, if the odds of making a bad roll were low, such as if the only bad roll were 3 or 11, the contestant who won control of the dice often chose to take the gamble and roll.
Contestants removed numbers from the board based on the value of the roll of the dice, either the number by itself or in combinations that totaled the value rolled. For example, if a 10 was rolled, the contestant could remove any available combination that added up to that number: 1-9, 2-8, 3-7, 4-6, 1-2-7, 1-3-6, 1-4-5, 2-3-5, or 1-2-3-4, providing that none of the numbers within the combination had already been removed.
Play continued until a contestant either removed the last remaining digits from the board and won, or (more commonly) made a bad roll and lost. If the only remaining digit on the board was the number 1, a final toss-up question was asked and the contestant who answered the question correctly won the round (since it is impossible to make a roll totaling 1 with two dice). The winner of the game kept whatever prizes were in his or her bank, or won a house minimum of $100. A contestant who won two out of three games won the match.
On this version, each game featured a single prize or prize package in each column, which did not carry over to subsequent rounds if the prizes went unclaimed. In some games, one of the columns contained the right to play one of several mini-games, including the following:
- Around The World: Each number on a die corresponded to one of five available trips; rolling a 6 won all five trips (i.e., a trip around the world). Regardless of the outcome of the game, the winner also received $5,000 in spending money.
- Dice Derby: This game mimicked a horse race; one horse was designated with even numbers (2, 4 and 6); the other odd numbers (1, 3 and 5). The contestant rolled the die and the appropriate horse moved one space depending on the outcome. The first horse to move four spaces on the track would win the race and a prize for the contestant. If the even horse won, the grand prize was a new car (or sometimes a trip or $10,000). If the odd horse won, the contestant received a moderately priced trip or pocketed $1,000.
- Driver's Test: The contestant controlled a game piece on a 12-position game board, arranged in a 4x4 ring of spaces. He/she had four rolls of a die to make the piece land exactly on the "CAR" space (which was seven spaces away from the starting position). The piece always moved toward the "CAR" space; if a roll caused it to overshoot the target, the next roll would have the piece reversing direction. Failure to win the car won the cash amount on that space, up to $2,500.
- It Takes Two: A different prize was assigned to each number on the die. The contestant continued to roll the die until he/she repeated a number, winning the prize corresponding to that number. Frequently, the prize associated with the 6 was the "kitchen sink", meaning that the contestant would win all five other prizes if they rolled a 6 twice.
- Love Letters: The contestant rolled a die up to six times to reveal letters in a six-letter word. Solving the word at any time won a new car; otherwise, the contestant won $100 for every letter that was revealed.
- Lucky Numbers: The contestant chose a number between 1 and 6, and then rolled the die. A correct hunch won the contestant a new car.
- Map Game: An earlier version of "Around The World", played on the pilot and the series premiere. It was played identically to "Around The World", except in this game a 6 did not win all five trips but rather a sixth, more expensive trip.
- Rabbit Test: The models wore fur coats, one fake, worth $600, while the other was real rabbit fur. If the contestant could "feel out" the real $6,000 fur, they won it.
- Smiling Wink's Car Lot: In this game each number on a die represented a new car, except number 6, which represented a "clunker," a used but operational car. The contestant rolled the die and won the car corresponding to the number rolled.
- Wink's Garage Sale: Six prizes, including a worthless gag gift, were available. Rolling a 6 won the junk prize; the others were worth thousands of dollars.
The Big NumbersEdit
In the bonus game, called the "Big Numbers", the champion rolled the dice and attempted to remove the numbers 1–9 from the board, with a large prize awarded for clearing the board. A bigger gameboard was used, except on the 1978–80 series, which used the same board as the main game. Insurance markers were awarded for doubles, giving the contestant the opportunity to roll again after a bad roll; this was the only time insurance markers were used during the 1974–76 version.
Contestants were awarded $100 for each number removed from the board. In the earliest episodes, contestants could stop and take this money after a good roll. A bad roll with no insurance markers, or eliminating all numbers except for the 1, ended the game and the contestant lost the bonus money accumulated. The contestant won a car for removing eight numbers, and $10,000 for all nine. The rules soon changed so that the car bonus was removed, but a contestant who continued to roll did not risk the accumulated money.
The 1978–80 version offered a prize of $5,000 for eliminating all nine numbers. For a certain period the contestant also received a car in addition to $5,000 for winning. The Martindale version offered a prize of $10,000, and used a pair of "golden dice" for this segment of the game.
The Big Numbers bonus round was also used on Las Vegas Gambit in 1981. The gameplay was unchanged (though the "Big Numbers" name was not used), and even incorporated the same dice table and sound effects from the 1978–80 High Rollers. Las Vegas Gambit, which like High Rollers was produced by Heatter-Quigley, was also coincidentally hosted by Wink Martindale.
Champions stayed on the show until they were defeated or until they won five matches (seven on the 1978-80 version). On the 1987-88 version, winning five matches originally won a new car but was later dropped by the time a player finally retired undefeated, which led to more cars being awarded in some of the mini-games played during the main game.
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