Card Sharks

NBC (ended 2002)
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  • show Description
  • "Ace is high, deuce is low. Call them right and win the dough ... onnnn ... Card Sharks!" That's how the opening spiel for one of the most popular new game shows of the late 1970s went. Based on the card game Acey Deucy, Card Sharks enjoyed two successful runs: from 1978 to 1981 on NBC daytime; and from 1986-1989 on CBS (a five-a-week syndicated entry aired from 1986-1987). There was also an ill-advised debacle of a run, a five-a-week syndicated show that appeared in the fall of 2001. The basic premise for all three runs was similar: complete the row of cards before your opponent does, by correctly guessing whether the next card was higher or lower. 1978-1981 and 1986-1989 versions The rules for the 1978 and 1986 versions, which saw two players (one a returning champion) compete, were virtually identical. Each player had his/her own row of five cards. To gain control of his row, he/she had to be more accurate in answering a high-low opinion question posed of a group of 100 people. For example: "We asked 100 Catholics, 'Are you offended by football commentators using the term Hail Mary to describe a last-second desparation pass?' How many said yes?" The first player gave his/her numerical answer (and usually, some reasoning), after which the opponent guessed whether the correct answer was higher or lower. Depending on who was more accurate in their answer (an exact guess was worth $500 in addition to control of the cards), that player saw his/her base card and could either play it or change it with (what they hoped) was a better card. The object was to correctly guess whether the next card in sequence was higher or lower. A correct guess allowed the player to continue or freeze (at which time a marker moved to that point in the row, where that contestant could continue if they won another high-low question); however, an incorrect guess (or whenever the card was identical) caused the player to lose all his/her cards after the starting point and allowed his/her opponent to play their row (however, they could not change the base card, no matter how much it was disliked). Up to four high-low questions were played, the fourth one always being "sudden death," where someone had to win on that play of the cards. The player who was correct on that question could either play out their row (with the option to change) or force his/her opponent to play without the change option. If the player completed the row, they won the round and $100; however, a wrong guess gave his/her opponent the victory. The front game was played best-of-three rounds, with the third round a tiebreaker. In the tiebreaker, each player was given three cards in their row, and a maximum of three high-low questions were played. The winner was champion and played the Money Cards. End Game: Money Cards In Money Cards, seven cards were situated in three rows. The player was spotted $200 and could bet anywhere from $50 up to everything they had on whether they thought the next card was higher or lower. A correct guess won the bet, a wrong guess (or if the card was identical) deducted it. The player could change the first card on each row. After the first row of three cards, the player moved to the second row and was given an additional $200; however, if the player lost everything on the first row before reaching the end, the card that caused him/her to "BUST" was moved to the second row, and the player was given $200; however, going bankrupt at any point thereafter ended the bonus game. After completing the second row successfully, the end card was moved to the top row for the Big Bet, where the player had to bet at least half their bankroll on the final card. A maximum of $28,800 was possible in the NBC version (accomplished once). Champions stayed on up to seven times. During the 1980-1981 season, the player could win $500 for turning over all five cards in a single play, without an incorrect guess. Also, an identical card in the Money Cards meant a "push" (no win or loss on that play). Changes for 1986 version Several changes were made for the CBS and 1986 syndicated run, as thus: * Two other types of questions were played. They included: -- Questions about a special polling group of 10 people (e.g., teachers who have been in the classroom for 25 years or more, people who own pigs as pets). The group was on the show the entire week and an exact guess paid $100 to the contestant while the panel got $10 each. -- "Educated guess" questions, or general knowledge questions with numerical answers. Exact guess also paid $500. * Later in the run, if a third game was needed, one question was played. The winner of that question was then shown both base cards (one for him/herself, the other the opponent's), and the contestant could either play or pass (like sudden death). * In the Money Cards, the contestant was spotted $400 upon reaching the second row, and could change up to one card per row from among three spare cards; a maximum of $32,000 was possible (this amount never being achieved). * A few months into the run, a second part to the end game was played after the Money Cards, played thusly: -- 1986-1988: The longest-lived format. The player was spotted one free Joker, and could find up to two additional Jokers hidden either on the board, among one of the three spare cards or in the deck. After the Money Cards, the player was shown a row of seven face-down cards, and the player simply placed the Joker(s) in front of the card they thought said "CAR." A correct guess won the car. During Kids Week, the youthful contestants played either for a prize package (including a computer, telescope, encyclopedias and other gifts) or a family trip to Hawaii. Also, two free Jokers were given at the outset with two more hidden in the deck. -- Fall 1988-1989: A question posed of the special 10-member polling group. The player had to point an arrow by their answer, and a correct guess won the car (or the Hawaii trip if if was Kids Week). The player pocketed $500 if they were just one off. * During the 1986 syndicated run's front game, the player could uncover cards with cash amounts or the names of prizes on them (e.g., a bedroom group). He/she had to win the round to claim the prizes. 2001 version The 2001 syndicated version was a disaster in many critics' eyes, with much of their criticism aimed at the completely-overhauled front game. Here, four players compete, two at a time. The opponents, playing in a best-of-three match – each play a common row of seven high-low cards; the third match, if necessary, was a three-card showdown. A correct guess kept that player in control, but an incorrect guess gave the opponent the right to make the next call. At any time, a player could ask to change the card (by use of one of two special "clip chip" tokens in their possession). The player was shown a video depicting one of the following: * A situation (not unlike Candid Camera or Street Smarts, which was stopped before its resolution. The player had to correctly guess the outcome in order to change the card. * Someone introduces himself/herself and then asks which of two others he/she is associated with. * Someone trying to list answers related to a topic within 10 seconds, or sing the correct lyrics to an obscure song. "Clip chips" could not be used in the tie-breaking match. The first player to win two games won $1,000 and moved on to a final one-game showdown with the winner of the second game. The winner of that match earned an additional $1,100 (for a total of $2,100), which would be used as betting money for the Money Cards. The Money Cards was essentially similar as the earlier runs, except just six cards – three on the first row, two on the middle row and the one card Big Bet row – were used and the player was spotted $700 for each row (including the Big Bet row). The maximum amount possible of $51,800 was never achieved. The 2001 syndicated version had two things which saved it from being a total disaster: 1. the Money Cards 2. a special week of shows (which were taped after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks) where firefighters and police officers played for charities aimed at helping victims and their families recover from the attacks. It was not the only time Card Sharks met disaster (or the other way around). When Bob Eubanks said goodbye to the CBS version in the spring of 1989, he gave a tearful farewell for the first card-dealer of the CBS version, who died early in the run.moreless

  • Episode Guide
  • S 1 : Ep 73

    Episode 73

    Aired 4/16/86

  • S 1 : Ep 72

    Episode 72

    Aired 4/15/86

  • S 1 : Ep 71

    Episode 71

    Aired 4/14/86

  • S 1 : Ep 70

    Episode 70

    Aired 4/11/86

  • S 1 : Ep 69

    Episode 69

    Aired 4/10/86

  • Cast & Crew
  • Markie Post

    Model (1978-1981)

  • Gene Wood

    Announcer (NBC/CBS)

  • Charlie O'Donnell

    Himself/Substitute Announcer (1980, 1986-1989)

  • Johnny Olson

    Announcer (1978 pilots); Substitute Announcer (NBC)

  • Pat Bullard

    Host 2001

  • Trivia & Quotes
  • Trivia (1)

    • This was Jay Stewart's only announcing work with Goodson-Todman. He would fill in for a brief period of time while regular announcer was recovering from an accident.

  • Fan Reviews (9)
  • Boohbah...

    By schaitelh, Dec 31, 2015

  • LOVE IT!!!

    By DasansMom, Apr 26, 2014

  • Card Sharks is a card game. It involves giant cards. Guess right to win cash, a car, and various other prizes. This isn't an awesome show, but it's pretty good. Well, at least it WAS. Card Sharks is now over.

    By palpoman, Jan 20, 2008

  • My only regret is that I had to watch reruns.

    By Kyle3931, Aug 28, 2006

  • This show is awesome.

    By packymaster, Jul 06, 2006