Catch 21

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Catch 21
Catch 21 logo.jpeg
Created by Merrill Heatter
Presented by Alfonso Ribeiro
Starring Mikki Padilla
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 300
Location(s) Hollywood Center Studios
Hollywood, California
Running time 22–26 minutes
Production company(s) Merrill Heatter Productions
Original channel Game Show Network
Original release July 21, 2008 (2008-07-21) – July 1, 2011 (2011-07-01)
External links

Catch 21 is an American game show centered on blackjack, created by Merrill Heatter (who also produced the show's predecessor Gambit) and taped at the Hollywood Center Studios. The series is hosted by Alfonso Ribeiro, with actress Mikki Padilla as the card dealer.


Main game[edit]

Three contestants are each given a card to start a blackjack hand from a standard 52-card deck that was shuffled prior to taping. Ribeiro reads a multiple-choice question and the first contestant to answer correctly earns 100 points. The contestant who answered correctly can freeze their hand, preventing them from receiving additional cards, or reveal the next card from the top of the deck. After revealing the card, the contestant can accept it for themselves or pass it to one of their opponents who has not yet frozen. If keeping a card, the contestant in control is given another chance to freeze. However, once a contestant has frozen, the remaining players must freeze at a score higher than that contestant; ties are not permitted. A contestant is eliminated from the round if their hand exceeds 21.[1]

The process is repeated with additional questions and cards until two contestants have frozen or bust. A contestant whose score reaches 21 exactly instantly wins the round and, beginning in Season 2, a bonus prize which is given to the contestant regardless of the outcome of the game.[2] If two contestants bust, the remaining contestant automatically wins the round. If only one contestant has not yet frozen or busted, no additional questions are asked; the remaining contestant simply continues drawing cards until either beating the highest frozen hand or busting. The winner of this round receives 500 points and a power chip to use in the bonus round, should that contestant get that far. After two rounds, the contestant with the lowest score is eliminated.[1] In the event of a tie for second place at the end of this round, the tied contestants compete in a tiebreaker. Each contestant chooses either the first or second card from a pair of cards; the one with the higher card (aces are always high) advances to the final round. If both contestants have the same point value, another tiebreaker is played.

The two remaining contestants play one more round involving the same toss-up question format, but point scores are not kept. The contestant who wins the round receives $1,000 and two additional power chips (originally one),[3] then moves on to the bonus round.[1]

Bonus round[edit]

The winner now controls three separate hands, each staked with one card. A new deck of 52 cards that has been shuffled and cut is used. Cards are drawn for the contestant, one at a time, and the contestant then chooses a hand in which to place each card. The contestant can use a power chip to dispose of an unwanted card. The contestant can end the round at any time if they fear the next card will cause them to bust on any of the three hands. However, using a power chip forces the contestant to place the next card in a hand, or use another chip if one is available; the contestant can only end the round after scoring a 21 in a hand.[1]

Getting 21 in one hand wins $1,000; in two hands wins $5,000; and if 21 is scored on all three hands, the contestant wins the grand prize of $25,000.[1][4] If the contestant busts on any hand, they will lose all money earned in the bonus round, but retain the $1,000 (and bonus prize, if applicable) from the main game won earlier. On some episodes in Season 2, the top prize was increased to $50,000 with the other payouts remaining the same.[5]


The series, produced by Scott Sternberg and Merrill Heatter, premiered on July 22, 2008.[1] On February 18, 2009, GSN renewed the series for a 65-episode second season, which featured the addition of an extra power chip in the bonus round in order to increase contestant's chances of winning the top prize.[3] A third season, which was announced on September 16, 2009, debuted on October 12, with some episodes featuring celebrities with a common bond playing for charity.[6] The show's fourth and final season debuted on August 16, 2010.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Grosvenor, Carrie. "Catch 21 Explained". About Entertainment. Retrieved February 8, 2015. 
  2. ^ Catch 21. Season 2. Episode 1. April 6, 2009. Game Show Network. 
  3. ^ a b "GSN's Hit Series Catch 21 Hosted by Alfonso Ribeiro to Return for Second Season Premiering April 6, Airing Weekdays at 6:30PM/5:30PM C" (Press release). GSN Corporate. February 18, 2009. Retrieved November 1, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Alfonso Ribeiro Makes a Great "Catch": Actor to Host New Game Show on GSN.". Retrieved 2009-08-19. 
  5. ^ "Catch-21!: Some Riveting Games For Season Two!". Retrieved 2009-08-19. 
  6. ^ "GSN Announces the Return of Hit Series The Newlywed Game and Catch 21, Premiering October 12" (Press release). GSN Corporate. September 16, 2009. Retrieved November 1, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Baggage and Catch 21 Both Return on August 16" (Press release). GSN Corporate. July 26, 2010. Retrieved November 1, 2014. 

External links[edit]