Card Sharks

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Card Sharks
Card Sharks 2019 logo.png
Card Sharks logo (2019-present)
Created byChester Feldman
Directed by
Presented by
StarringAnn Pennington, Janice Baker, Lois Aurino, Kristin Bjorklund, Melinda Hunter, Markie Post (1978–81)
Lacey Pemberton, Suzanna Williams (1986–89)[1]
Tami Roman (2001–02)[2]
Jerry Wolf, Alexis Gaube (2019–)
Narrated by
Theme music composer
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes
  • 864 (NBC)
  • 826 (CBS)[3]
  • 195 (1986–87 Syn.)
  • 65 (2001–02 Syn.)
  • 1 (ABC)
Executive producer(s)
  • Chester Feldman (1978–89)
  • Jonathan Goodson (1986–89)
  • Scott St. John (2019–)
  • Jennifer Mullin (2019-)
  • Jack Martin (2019-)
  • Joel McHale (2019-)
Production location(s)
Running time22–26 minutes (1978-2002)
42-46 minutes (2019-)
Production company(s)
Original network
Picture format480i NTSC (1978-2002)
720p HDTV (2019-)
Audio formatMono (NBC)
Stereo (CBS/Syn.) 5.1 Surround (ABC)
Original release
  • April 24, 1978 (1978-04-24) – October 23, 1981 (1981-10-23) (NBC Daytime)
  • January 6, 1986 (1986-01-06) – March 31, 1989 (1989-03-31) (CBS Daytime)
  • September 8, 1986 (1986-09-08) – June 5, 1987 (1987-06-05) (Daily Syndication)
  • September 17, 2001 (2001-09-17) – January 11, 2002 (2002-01-11) (Daily Syndication)
  • June 12, 2019 (2019-06-12) – present (ABC)

Card Sharks is an American television game show created by Chester Feldman[citation needed] for Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions. Based on the card game Acey Deucey, the game has two contestants compete for control of a row of oversized playing cards by answering questions posed by the host and then guessing if the next card is higher or lower in value than the previous one. The title Card Sharks is a play on the term 'card sharp', a person skilled at card games.

The concept has been made into a series four separate times since its debut in 1978, and also appeared as part of CBS's Gameshow Marathon. The show originally ran on NBC from 1978 to 1981 with Jim Perry hosting. The show returned and ran from 1986 to 1989 on CBS with Bob Eubanks as host, accompanied by a syndication production with Bill Rafferty. Gene Wood was the announcer in both the 1970s and 1980s. Another syndicated production aired from 2001–2002 with Pat Bullard as host and Gary Kroeger as announcer. A weekly primetime version premiered on June 12, 2019, on ABC, with Joel McHale as host. Each production has featured various assistants to handle the playing cards.

Reruns of the show aired on Game Show Network from the channel's start in 1994 until 2018. Reruns currently air on Buzzr.


Two contestants are assigned an oversized deck of 52 playing cards, which the contestants themselves cut before each game (offscreen prior to 2019), and are dealt the first several cards for their row. The champion (or champion-designate if there were two new contestants) played the red cards on top while the challenger played the blue cards on the bottom. Each contestant's row of cards had a bracket atop it with their name on it, which was used to mark their "base cards".

Main Round[edit]

Contestants alternate responding to questions to gain control of the cards. In all versions from 1978-89, the returning champion usually was selected to go first; if there were two new contestants, the player in the red position still went first. The 2019 revival instead has both contestants cut their decks onstage and show the resulting bottom card; the contestant with the higher card goes first.

Similarly to another Goodson-Todman game show, Family Feud, survey questions are posed to groups of 100 people, all of whom are typically in a common demographic group of the same profession, marital status, etc. (e.g., "We asked 100 teachers, 'Has a student ever given you an apple?' How many said they have?"). Contestants are asked to predict how many of those 100 people responded in a specific manner. Their opponent is then asked whether he or she thinks the actual number is higher or lower than the previous contestant's response. The actual number is then revealed, and if the opponent is correct, they play their cards first; otherwise, the contestant to whom the question was posed plays first.

The contestant who wins the question is shown the first card in their row of ten (five prior to 2019) and can either keep it or replace it with the next card off the top of their individual deck, which he or she is then required to play. The contestant then guesses whether the next card in the row is higher or lower, and continues to do so as long as he or she guesses correctly. If two duplicate cards appear or the contestant makes an incorrect guess, that contestant loses control and whatever cards they have played are discarded and replaced. The opposing contestant then has a chance to play from his or her base card, without the opportunity to exchange first. Either contestant can also elect to "freeze" their position if they are unsure of the next card. This prevents the opponent from playing and resets the contestant's base card to the frozen card, and whatever cards that were turned in that instance are not discarded.

If neither contestant has guessed all the cards in his or her row correctly, or if one has frozen his or her position, play continues with another toss-up question, with the opposing contestant providing the initial numerical guess. In all versions from 1978-89, as well as the Gameshow Marathon episode, the first two games consisted of a maximum of four questions each, and the third tie-breaker game contained a maximum of three questions; since 2019, only one game is played per match, with a maximum of five survey questions. If the contestants still have not cleared their row of cards prior to the last question of the round, that question is played as "sudden death". The winner of the sudden death question can either play their cards—and change their base card if they desired—or pass to their opponent, who has to play without the option to change the base card. If either contestant guesses incorrectly, their opponent automatically wins the game.

In all versions from 1978-1989, as well as the Gameshow Marathon episode, matches were best two-out-of-three, with the third game being played with three cards per contestant and a maximum of three high-low questions. Each game win was worth $100. The 2019 revival removes the "best two-out-of-three" aspect, with only one game now being played per match; whoever wins the game now receives $10,000 to use as a starting stake in the Money Cards.

Rule changes[edit]

In the 1980–1981 season, a $500 bonus was awarded to any contestant who provided the exact number of people responding to a specific question. In the final few months of 1981, if a contestant was able to complete their row of five cards successfully without freezing, he or she won a $500 bonus.

From 1986 to 1989, two new varieties of questions in addition to the traditional survey questions. Beginning in July 1986, a question asked to a group of 10 studio audience members who shared a characteristic (e.g., ten single women, ten security guards, ten people over 80). If a contestant guessed the exact number of audience members who made a certain response to one of these questions, he or she won a $100 bonus and the poll group was given $100 to share. The same poll group was used for a week's worth of episodes. Introduced in October 1986, educated guess questions featured a numerical answer to general knowledge trivia questions. Exact guesses won a $500 bonus for the contestant.

The 1986–87 syndicated version introduced prize cards that were shuffled into the deck. If a card was revealed, that contestant was credited with the prize and claimed it if he or she won the game. The next card from the top of the contestant's deck replaced the prize card, and the contestant continued playing. At this time, the maximum questions per game were changed to a 4–3–2 format. Shortly thereafter, game #1 was also changed to a three question maximum, moving to a 3–3–2 format. However, all games reverted to the 4–4–3 format by December 1986. Also, contestants only won the prizes claimed for winning the match, or $100 if no prize cards were found during gameplay.

In 1988, the tie-breaker round changed to a single sudden death question. The controlling contestant was shown both base cards before being given the option to play the cards (and change their base card if desired) or pass to the opponent (who had to play without changing). As before, if either contestant guessed incorrectly, their opponent automatically won the match.

Money Cards[edit]

The winner of the main game plays the Money Cards bonus game. The original board consisted of a series of eight cards dealt out on three levels; the 2001 revival changed this to seven cards. The champion is staked with a dollar amount before the round begins and wagers money on each card prior to calling higher or lower. Prior to 2001, the player was staked with $200 prior to the round; the 2001 revival raised this to $700. The 2019 revival has the contestant wager with the $10,000 he or she received for winning the main game.

After calling the first three cards, the last card in the row was moved to the first position in the second row, and the contestant received an additional $200 to wager with the next three cards. The last card in the third row was moved to the first position in the top row, and the contestant made a wager for the final card. The minimum bet for each card was $50 ($100 in the 2001 revival), except for the final card, the "Big Bet" (renamed "Major Wager" for the 2001 revival), where the contestant was required to wager at least half of the money earned thus far.

If a contestant lost all of the money banked and busted on the first row, the last card called was moved to the first position on the second row and the contestant received another $200 to wager with the final four cards. If the contestant busted after moving to the second row, the round ended. If a contestant wagered their entire bank on each card and made a correct prediction each time, the maximum payout was stated to be $28,800 on the Perry version (which was done once), $32,000 on the Eubanks and Raferty versions (the biggest win there being $29,000), and $640,000 on the McHale version.

Contestants remained on the show until losing the main game or playing the Money Cards seven times. Beginning in 1986, contestants played until they either won five consecutive matches or reached the network's winnings limit of $75,000.

Starting in 2019, the player's winnings are represented in oversized $1,000 and $5,000 chips. The board is now a single row of seven cards, with no additional money given halfway through. Players are given the chance to change any one card during the round. Players are required to physically place chips equal to their bet on the table in front of them on sections labeled "HIGHER" or "LOWER". Prior to the last card, players must bet at least $1,000 on each card. Players who reach the last card without busting are given the option to "cash out" and quit with their current winnings rather than play the final card. If they elect to play, they must gamble at least half their bank on the last card. The maximum possible winnings is $640,000.

Rule changes[edit]

Duplicate cards are treated as incorrect guesses. From October 20, 1980, a duplicate was regarded as a 'push'; the contestant did not lose his or her wager, and moved to the next card. The 'push' rule remained intact until late in the 2001 revival's run, but has not been used since.

Initially, contestants could only change their base card on the bottom level of the board, at the start of the round. This was later altered to allow the contestant to change the base card on each new line of cards if they desired. Starting in 1986, a contestant was shown three potential "change cards" and could use those cards at any time to change an undesired card, even to change the same card multiple times. This was later amended to allow only one change per line. Also starting in 1986, the additional amount awarded for moving to the second line increased from $200 to $400. This changed the maximum potential payout to $32,000.

Players can change exactly one card, anywhere on the line, in the 2019 version.

Car games[edit]

Beginning in September 1986 in syndication (and the next month on CBS), champions were also given an opportunity to win a new car following the Money Cards round. Three jokers were shuffled into the Money Cards deck. If a joker was uncovered, the contestant was given an additional chance to win a car. To ensure the contestant had one opportunity at winning the car, he/she was given one free joker at the onset of the Money Cards.

Following the Money Cards, a row of seven new cards were shown to the contestant, behind one of which was the word "Car". Using the joker(s) from the Money Cards, the contestant designated the cards of their choice. If one of the cards selected revealed the word "Car", the contestant won a new vehicle in addition to any money and prizes won earlier. The same car was featured for an entire week of five shows. During the special weeks when children played, the top prize was a trip to Hawaii and the children were given two jokers to start.

In July 1988, the bonus changed to feature an audience poll question similar to those used in the main game. The contestant was read the question and registered their guess on a board with a range from zero to ten. If the contestant made a correct prediction, he/she won the car. If their guess was off by one, the contestant won another $500.

When the car game was introduced on the 1986—87 syndicated version, luxury cars were featured and a contestant immediately retired after winning a car. This was later changed to offer mid-priced cars, and a contestant retired after winning three cars, which was then further lowered to retiring after winning two cars.

Broadcast history[edit]


The original Card Sharks aired on NBC from April 24, 1978 to October 23, 1981, hosted by Jim Perry. From its debut until June 20, 1980, Card Sharks aired at 10:00 am (ET)/9:00 am (CT/MT/PT). The series was one of the few respectably-rated programs (daytime or otherwise) on NBC under Fred Silverman's tenure as network president, which at the time was struggling to gain ratings in both daytime and primetime. After a scheduling shuffle necessitated by the debut of The David Letterman Show on June 23, 1980, Card Sharks moved to noon/11:00 am, a timeslot where it faced the top-rated game show in daytime, Family Feud on ABC; the first half of The Young and the Restless in certain markets on CBS; and pre-emptions on local affiliates due to many stations electing to air local newscasts, talk shows, or other syndicated programming in the Noon hour. Card Sharks remained in the noon/11:00 slot until its cancellation.

The CBS version of Card Sharks debuted at 10:30/9:30 am January 6, 1986, as a replacement for Body Language, and stayed in that timeslot for its entire run; Press Your Luck relocated to the latter show's old 4:00/3:00 pm slot to make room for Card Sharks. Until January 1987, Card Sharks faced off against its original host Jim Perry's game show Sale of the Century on NBC in the time slot; Sale of the Century was moved to 10:00 am that year. Blockbusters (with the then-host of the syndicated Card Sharks, Bill Rafferty) and then Alex Trebek's Classic Concentration followed as competition for Card Sharks. This version ended its run on March 31, 1989, and was replaced by a short-lived version of Now You See It. The new host of the CBS version was Bob Eubanks; the host of the British adaptation, Bruce Forsyth, was at one point being considered for the job as well, after having a short-lived game show in the US on ABC, Bruce Forsyth's Hot Streak. Patrick Wayne was also considered for the job.

The 1986 Bill Rafferty-hosted syndicated series debuted on September 8, 1986. For the first half of the season this syndicated Card Sharks series had fairly decent clearances, but this changed due to the show's ratings struggles in an overcrowded syndicated game show market. At the midseason point, the syndicated Card Sharks disappeared from quite a few of its markets, while many stations that continued to air it moved it to very undesirable late-night and early morning timeslots. The series continued to air until June 5, 1987, in the markets that kept it, with re-runs airing until September 11 of that year.

The most recent regular Card Sharks series, the Pat Bullard-hosted 2001 series, debuted on September 17, 2001 (though as it launched the week after the September 11 attacks, was subject to pre-emption by several stations for news coverage) and aired new episodes until December 14, 2001. Four weeks of re-runs aired following that, and the series was cancelled altogether on January 11, 2002. In most of its markets the 2001 Card Sharks was either paired with or aired on the same station as one or both of the Pearson Television-produced shows that were airing at the time, To Tell the Truth or Family Feud.

In 2001, both contestants played the same row of seven cards. Each incorrect call gave the other contestant control of the remaining cards. A contestant won the game and $500 by guessing the last card correctly or by an opponent calling the last card incorrectly. The first contestant to win two games competed against the winner of the second match. Both contestants kept their winnings if they won a game. If both contestants were tied with one game each, a three-card tiebreaker round was played to determine the winner. At the beginning of each match, players were given two "Clip Chips", which when used offered the chance to change a card by correctly predicting the outcome of a pre-taped video segment.

The Money Cards featured seven cards: one base row of three cards, a middle row of two cards, and a top row of one card. The contestant was staked with $700 dealt the first card off the top of the deck, wagering whether the next card was higher or lower. When moved up to the second line, the contestant received an additional $700 and called the next two cards. For moving to the top line, the "Major Wager", the contestant received another $700 and wagered on the final card. Each minimum bet was $100, and contestants were required to wager at least half their money on the final card.

Gameshow Marathon (2006, CBS)[edit]

On June 15, 2006, Card Sharks was the fifth of seven classic game shows featured in CBS's month-long Gameshow Marathon hosted by Ricki Lake and announced by Rich Fields as it was one of the "semifinal rounds" in the tournament. The contestants were Brande Roderick and Paige Davis.

The set was modeled after the original 1978–81 production. In the Money Cards, the winner earned $1,000 for each row, for a possible $144,000. Roderick won $6,000 in the bonus round.

In the car game, unlike the 1986–89 version, the game was changed where 10 people were polled (cheerleaders in this episode) were called up for another poll question. This time, the rules were fixed and were made easier with the contestant simply having to say whether the number of people who did do what they were asked (e.g., "We asked these cheerleaders, 'Have you ever dated someone from a rival school?', How many of these 10 cheerleaders said they had dated someone from a rival school?") was a number higher or lower than 5. A card from the blue deck was shown lying face down and was brought out with the numerical value of the people who said "yes". The card was then revealed after the contestant's guess was made and if the value matched the contestant's guess, then the car was won. Roderick won $10,000 along with a BMW M Roadster (worth $40,445) for a grand total of $50,445 for the home viewer.


On February 25, 2019, a casting announcement was released by Fremantle for a new production of Card Sharks advertising opportunities for potential contestants to apply.[5]

On March 13, 2019, Vulture reported that ABC is partnering with Fremantle to reboot the series, with pre-production on new hour-long episodes of Card Sharks and Press Your Luck being underway and taping slated to begin sometime in the spring. Scott St. John (a producer on Match Game) has been named as the executive producer.[6] Airing on ABC makes Card Sharks one of only a handful of shows (joining To Tell the Truth, The Price is Right, and Family Feud) to have at one point or another aired on all three of the Big Three television networks.

On April 8, 2019, TVLine reported that actor Joel McHale would be the new host.[7] The series premiered on June 12, 2019.[8]



Gene Wood was the primary announcer on both the original and 1980s Card Sharks, with Charlie O'Donnell and Bob Hilton serving as occasional substitutes. Jack Narz, Jay Stewart, and Johnny Olson also served as substitutes for NBC, and Johnny Gilbert and Rod Roddy also served as substitutes for CBS.[1] Gary Kroeger was the announcer in 2001,[1] and Rich Fields was the announcer of the Gameshow Marathon episode.

The theme for the NBC version was previously used on the Goodson-Todman series Double Dare with host Alex Trebek that aired in 1976 on CBS. Edd Kalehoff wrote that theme through Score Productions, and the theme for the 1980s version of Card Sharks through his own production company.[1] Alan Ett and Scott Liggett composed the 2001 series theme.[2]

Ann Pennington, Janice Baker, Lois Areno, Kristin Bjorklund, Melinda Hunter, and Markie Post all served as models on NBC. Lacey Pemberton and Suzanna Williams were the models on the concurrent CBS and syndication runs in the 1980s,[1] and Tami Roman was the model in 2001.[2]

Recording locations[edit]

The NBC version was taped at NBC Studios in Burbank, California in the same studio which housed Perry's next game, Sale of the Century. Production of the show from 1986–89 moved to Studio 33 at CBS Television City in Los Angeles, California. Production in 2001 was moved to Tribune Studios, now known as the Sunset Bronson Studios, which are part of KTLA. The Card Sharks episode of Gameshow Marathon was also taped at CBS Television City in Studio 46.


  • The first Card Sharks home game was a computer-based video game released by Sharedata, Inc. and Softie, Inc. in 1988 for the Apple II and Commodore 64 units and all IBM compatible computers.[9] Although the host was based on Jim Perry, the game's logo and gameplay were based on the 1986–89 format, using the single sudden-death question tiebreaker in the main game. If a contestant got an exact guess on a question in the main game, he or she won a $100 bonus, instead of the $500 bonus on the show. Also, unlike the show, the game did not use the educated guess or audience poll questions.
  • Endless Games published a Card Sharks[10] home game in 2002 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the series. It used visual designs based on the 2001 production while its gameplay was based on the 1986 format of the series, prior to the car game being introduced.
  • Software for mobile phones was released on June 1, 2005 by Telescope Inc.,[11] which also used the logo from 2001 to 2002; its theme music was a remix of the 1978–81 version, the rules and gameplay were based from a variety of the 1970s and 1980s variants. More survey questions were also available for download.
  • A single-player online game was released by the now defunct website The logo and set were similar to its 2001–02 counterpart while its gameplay (minus the poll questions) was very similar to the 1970s and 1980s counterparts. However, as of September 30, 2006, the website no longer offered any game show-based games of any kind.
  • The now defunct website had an online version of Card Sharks in 2004.[12] Its logo and set were based on the original 1978–81 format, and the main theme song had a unique mixture of both the 1978 and 2001 productions, and like its counterpart it had no poll questions either, but its gameplay was very similar to that of The Price Is Right where players have to guess grocery items that were 'higher' or 'lower' than the ones that precedes them. The show was also similar to The Price is Right in that it used various sound effects and theme music from The Price is Right at various points, such as playing the infamous losing horn for a bust or for failing to win the car in the bonus round during the Eubanks and Rafferty eras.

International versions[edit]

The most significant difference in gameplay for foreign formats of Card Sharks was the use of married couples instead of individual contestants (except the U.S., Brazilian, Greek, and Portuguese versions, which only featured individual contestants). All global versions of Card Sharks (except the U.S., Brazil, and Greece) were mostly produced by Reg Grundy.

Country Local name Host Network Year aired
 Australia Play Your Cards Right Ugly Dave Gray Seven Network 1984–1985
 Argentina Tiburon de Cartas Nathy Peluso Telefe
Univision (USA)
 Belgium (Dutch) Hoger, Lager Walter Capiau TV1 1983–1989
 Brazil Corrida de Fórmula B Silvio Santos Tupi 1979–1982
Jogo do Mais ou Menos SBT 1996
 Germany Bube, Dame, Hörig Elmar Hörig Sat.1 1996–1999
 Greece Πάνω ή κάτω
Above or Below
Alki Tallow ANT1 1989–1990
 Hong Kong Dai Pai ATV 1982
 Indonesia Super Rejeki 1 Milyar Dave Hendrik antv 2006–2007
 New Zealand Play Your Cards Right Kenny Cantor TVNZ 1983
 Philippines Hi-Lo Todo Panalo (segment on Eat Bulaga!) Hosts of Eat Bulaga! GMA Network 2002
 Poland Rekiny Kart Rudi Schubeth Polsat 1998–1999
 Portugal Jogo de Cartas Nicolau Breyner
Serenella Andrade
RTP1 1989–1990
 Sweden Lagt kort ligger Magnus Härenstam SVT 1987–1990
 Turkey Aşaği Yukari Meltem Cumbul aTV 1994–1997
 United Kingdom Play Your Cards Right
Bruce Forsyth's Play Your Cards Right
Bruce Forsyth ITV 1980–1987
 United States Card Sharks Jim Perry NBC 1978–1981
Bob Eubanks CBS 1986–1989
Bill Rafferty Syndication 1986–1987
Pat Bullard 2001
Joel McHale ABC 2019–present

Reruns of the American Perry and Eubanks/Rafferty versions aired on Game Show Network from its inception in 1994 until 2018. The Perry and Eubanks/Rafferty versions can be seen on Buzzr. The Eubanks version also reran on Sky One in the UK during the 1990s. The 1994–1999 and 2002–2003 versions of Bruce Forsyth's Play Your Cards Right have re-run on Challenge in the UK.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Schwartz, David; Ryan, Steve; Wostbrock, Fred (1999). The Encyclopedia of TV Game Shows (3 ed.). Facts on File, Inc. p. 35. ISBN 0-8160-3846-5.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Card Sharks 2001 cast and crew". IMDb. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  3. ^ "Y2Play on Game Show Network". Archived from the original on 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2014-04-21.
  4. ^ "Michael Malone". IMDb. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  5. ^ Davis, Alex (25 February 2019). "Card Sharks Next in Line for Reboot; Now Casting". BuzzerBlog. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  6. ^ Adalian, Josef. "No Whammy! ABC Is Bringing Back Press Your Luck and Card Sharks". Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  7. ^ Iannucci, Rebecca (8 April 2019). "Joel McHale to Host Card Sharks Revival". TVLine. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  8. ^ "ABC Announces Summer Premiere Dates With Expanded 'Summer Fun & Games' Lineup, Captivating Dramas and 'The Bachelor' Franchise All Summer Long". Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  9. ^ "PC Games, Computer Games". GameSpot. 2014-04-17. Retrieved 2014-04-21.
  10. ^ "ACE IS HIGH, DUECE IS LOW, PLAY THE CARDS, WIN THE DOUGH" Endless Games Adds Card Sharks to its line of retro games" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2003-06-09.
  11. ^ "Card Sharks mobile game site at Telescope Inc. (via Internet Archive)". Archived from the original on 2005-04-22.
  12. ^ "demo-home". Archived from the original on May 17, 2014. Retrieved 16 October 2014.

External links[edit]