Dealer's Choice


  • Bob Hastings (first few weeks only)
  • Jack Clark

    Hostess: Jane Nelson
    Announcer: Jim Thompson
    Broadcast History: Syndicated Jan. 21, 1974 - Dec. 12, 1975
    Packagers: Fishman-Freer Productions

  • Les Wallwork and Associates (part of first half-season)
  • Columbia Pictures Television

  • Tropicana Hotel, Las Vegas (first half-season)
  • The Burbank Studios (second season)
  • KTTV, Los Angeles (third half-season)

    Premise: Three players competed in a variety of gambling-type games.


    At the start of the show, an audience member is called onstage to assist in the selection of the day's three contestants (each of whom also come from the audience), whose names are concealed on a 3x3 board containing slot machine symbols (cherries, a bell, a bar, etc.). The audience member is given four choices out of the nine spaces, and for each contestant's name uncovered, s/he recieves $25; if all 3 contestants' names are revealed, the audience member also receieves a prize.
    Each of the three players starts by drawing a postcard containing the name of a home viewer; whichever contestant wins the game also earns a prize for his/her home partner. They are then given an initial stake of 100 betting chips, which they may use to place bets in a series of gambling games, five of which are described below:

    For those of you unfamiliar with this popular gambling game, here's how it works: It's a card game in which the player tries to get as close to 21 as possible without going over. Card values are as follows:
  • 2 - 10: Face value
  • Jack/Queen/King: 10 pts. each
  • Ace: Either 1 or 11 pts.
    Another audience member is called up onstage for this game; s/he is the "dealer" (and like the players, is also assigned a "home partner" by drawing a postcard. As in traditional blackjack, the dealer must hit if his/her total is 16 or below, and stand if it's 17 or over.
    Each of the 3 players may bet up to 50 chips in this game. After two initial cards have been shown, each player can choose to either stop, or take another "hit"; if any player goes "bust" (over 21) or fails to beat the dealer, s/he loses, and the dealer recieves whatever number of chips that player bet. However, any player who beats the dealer gets whatever amount of chips s/he bet added to his/her score. The dealer recieves $1 for each chip won from any losing players, and his/her home partner recieves a gift certificate for that same amount.
    Should a player get "blackjack" (21 on the first two cards, i.e. an ace and a 10/jack/king/queen), the payback is 2 - 1 (ex: if a player bets 30 chips and gets blackjack, 30 x 2 = 60, so that player would recieve an additional 60 chips).

    "Dealer's Derby"
    Essentially the same game as "Speculation" (see descrip. below), but the "stock market" motif is replaced by a "horse racing" one (the goal being for a player's horse to "cross the finish line" by being the first to move five spaces); payoff for horse #1 is an even 1-1, payoff for #2 is 3-1, and payoff for #3 is 5-1.

    Each player places a starting bet of up to 10 chips; a card is drawn, and if it is lower than a 7 or higher than a 9, whatever amount each player bet is doubled. Should a 7, 8, or 9 come up at any time, the game is over, and the contestant loses all the chips s/he has won in that game; for this reason, all players have the option to quit after each successful bet. However, if a 7, 8, or 9 does not come up, the game ends after 5 cards have been drawn, and whatever amount of chips each player won is added to his/her total.

    The players are shown 3 "stocks" on the "stock exchange board", and may bet up to 25 chips on whichever stock they think will reach 1 point for the session first. Stock #1 pays off evenly (1 - 1), stock #2 pays off 2 - 1, and stock #3 pays off 5 - 1 . Each stock rises 1/5 of a point every time its number pops out of the "ticker-tape machine" (actually a hopper w/numbered ping-pong balls); the aforementioned odds are determined by the number of ping-pong balls representing each stock . Once a stock reaches 1 point, the game is over (or rather, the "market" is closed).

    "Wheel of Chance"
    A "Big Six"-type wheel is spun; the players may bet up to 50 chips on whatever space they think the wheel will stop on: spade, heart, club, or diamond. The layout is as follows:
  • 12 spades; payoff is even (1 - 1)
  • 6 hearts; payoff is 3 - 1
  • 4 clubs; payoff is 5 - 1
  • 2 diamonds; payoff is 11 - 1

    4 games are played per show; the 4th game is designated the "Last Chance Game", and the players may bet ANY amount of the chips that they have. At the end of that game, each player redeems their chips for a prize, the value of which depends on the "level" at which they finished:
  • 1 - 100 chips is worth one of three "Level 1" prizes (a Palm Springs weekend, kitchen accesories, etc.)
  • 101 - 300 chips is worth one of three "Level 2" prizes (an electric range, a recliner, etc.)
  • More than 300 chips is worth one of three "Level 3" prizes (a Hawaiian vacation, a furniture package, etc.)
    (NOTE: If more than 1 player is eligible for a prize on the same level, the player w/the higher score gets to pick first)
    Also, if a player finishes w/500 or more chips, s/he recieves an additional bonus prize.
    In any event, the player w/the most chips is the winner and goes on to play the bonus round.

    BONUS ROUND: The player is given a pair of dice containg money amounts from $50 to $200; one of the dice also contains a spade. For each roll, the player accumulates the total amount that comes up, but should the spade appear at any time, the game is over, and the player loses whatever money s/he had earned; for this reason, the player always has the option to quit after each roll. If the player avoids the spade and accumulates $1,000 or more, s/he wins the money, plus a bonus prize (a car, a trip to an exotic locale, etc.).


    While the credits rolled at the end of the show, the host would give audience members the chance to win money by playing a high-low card game similar to the one described above.

    The original host of "Dealer's Choice", Bob Hastings, is a well-known actor ("McHale's Navy", "General Hospital" and most notably, "All in the Family") and commerical/animation voice-over talent, but proved ill-suited as emcee and was replaced by the more experienced Jack Clark after only a few weeks.

    Gamut of Game released a home version of "Dealer's Choice" in 1975 (its official title was "Place Your Bets: The Home Version of TV's Exciting 'Dealer's Choice'").