|NBC Daytime, October 27, 1980-November 27, 1981|
|Fountain Theatre, Tropicana Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada|
This is chronicling 1980-1981 version of Gambit called Las Vegas Gambit.
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 match. 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.
For the first half of Las Vegas Gambit, the winning couple played the Gambit Bonus Board. They faced a large game board with 18 numbered video screens, 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 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. In early episodes a couple could elect to stop only when their hand totaled 17 or more.
- Going over 21, at which point they lost everything they found on the board.
- Reaching 21 exactly, wherein they won a new car ($5,000 on Las Vegas Gambit, though no bonus was given in early episodes) as well as the money in the Gambit Jackpot and the prizes selected.
The bonus round often featured a subgame called "Beat The Dealer", triggered by a selected card on the Gambit Board. The couple could win a $1,000 bonus by beating Martindale (acting as the dealer, although the cards were still dealt by the dealer) in a round of traditional blackjack, with the Dealer required to hit to 16 and stop on 17 or more.
In addition, other special awards were occasionally scattered among the numbers. This version featured markers saying "$100 Times" or "$200 Times", which would multiply the value of the next card by the figure uncovered, up to $1,100 or $2,200 for an ace.
For the second half of the NBC version, the Gambit Board was replaced by a renamed Big Numbers bonus round from the Heatter-Quigley show High Rollers. In this round, called the Gambit Galaxy, the couple was presented with a pair of dice and was required to eliminate the numbers 1 through 9 from a board in front of them. To do this, the couple eliminated numbers that added up to the total they rolled (for instance, if the couple rolled a 10 they could eliminate 4 and 6; 3 and 7; 1, 2, 3, and 4; or any other combination that added to 10). The couple won $100 for each number eliminated, and if all nine were eliminated, the couple won $5,000 and an accumulating "Gambit Galaxy" prize package, which generally totaled at least $10,000. In the event a double was rolled (the same number on both dice), an insurance marker was awarded; it could then be used in the event the couple made a bad roll.
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