Lifespan: September 1972 - December 1976, September 1980 - October 1981 ("Las Vegas Gambit")
Host: Wink Martindale
Announcer: Kenny Williams
Hostesses: Elaine Stewart, Beverly Malden, Lee Menning
Produced by: Merrill Heatter - Bob Quigley Productions
Front Game Rules (Both versions)
Two married couples compete. Wink would ask a question (always of the mutliple choice or true-false variety) to both couples. The first couple to buzz in with a correct answer got to control the next card off the deck (the first card of the game was shown before the question, all other cards were secret) and could it take it themselves or force their opponents to take it. If a couple answered incorrectly, control went to the other team.
The object of the game was that of Blackjack; come as close to 21 points without going over. Face cards were worth 10 points; Aces were worth 1 or 11. After each card, a couple could freeze their board and not accept any future cards. A couple could win in one of four ways: Force their opponent over 21, Freeze their board and then have their opponents miss a question, Surpass their opponents' score after they freeze (ties didn't count), or reach 21 points (which also won a cash jackpot which began at $500 and went up $500 each match it wasn't won). Each game won $100; the first to win two games won the match and went on to the bonus round.
End Game Rules (Both versions)
The winning couple was now shown a board of 21 numbers (18 in the LVG end game). Players alternated picking numbers off the board, and win the prize behind each number. After picking the number, the couple receives a card. They can stop at any time, but if they go over 21 they lost the prizes. Hitting 21 exactly won the cash jackpot, plus a car in the original version. In the Las Vegas version, the couple couldn't stop until their score was 17 or more.
Later during the second run, the bonus round was tweaked, patterned off the Heatter-Quigley show "High Rollers." In this bonus round, the couple roll a pair of dice, then eliminated the numbers using the total they rolled. Each number they knocked off won money; using all nine won a larger cash prize.
Elaine Stewart was producer Merrill Heatter's wife.
Las Vegas Gambit was taped on location at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada (natch).
Loogaroo Looks it Over
A very interesting game by the folks at H-Q. The blackjack concept seems to work quite well, especially since the benefits of reaching 21 are quite high. The bonus round, however, seems to go against the Blackjack ideology; most people would want to nail it with two cards, but the bonus round puts emphasis on getting smaller cards to get more prizes. Wink Martindale's first major hosting job goes off without a hitch; he seems quite at ease behind the podium for the first show, and that's probably why they went with him again when Gambit returned.
Much of my problem with the game, however, lies within the intangible elements. Most of the questions were in the form of Hints from Heloise, celebrity gossip, or really, really inane trivia. Although I realize that this was a morning show and this wasn't exactly a game for intellectual giants, some more substantial material could've been used. The theme music for both shows was also kinda cheesy. The Las Vegas version also seemed a bit forced; this was a format best suited for the 70's, and once it left that decade people didn't seem as interested. Still, it was a pretty good concept - better, IMO, than the derivative show High Rollers.
Gambit (Both versions)
Gameplay: 2 pts.
Host: 3 pts.
Presentation: 1 pt.
Execution: 1 pt.
Total Score: 7 pts.
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