Super Pay Cards!

(w/help from Dave Mackey, Harry Mahardi, Mark Jeffries, Jason Bereza, and Mary Lou Basaraba [yes, THAT one!])

Host: Art James
Hostess: Mary Lou Basaraba
Airdate: Syndicated Sep. 14, 1981-Sep. 1982
Packager: Nicholson/Muir Productions in association with Champlain Productions
U.S. Distribution: Metromedia
Canadian Distribution: CTV
Origination: CFCF-TV, Montreal
Opening Spiel: "It's the television card game that everyone can play...Super Pay Cards!"

Premise: Two contestants competed to built poker hands in this card game which closely resembled "Concentration".


Two contestants (always a man and a woman) sat facing a gameboard of 16 playing cards; the object of the game was for each player to build a better poker hand than his/her opponent. Payoffs were as follows:

Three of a kind=$50
Full house=$100
Four of a kind=$200
High hand=$50 bonus

Here is how each round was played:

In round 1, called "Five Card Draw", four of the sixteen cards were shown briefly to the players at the start of the round. Each player, on his/her turn, called out three cards, and if a pair (or better) was found, the player kept it and tried to complete that hand.

In round 2, one of three different hands was played, each of which is described below:

"Four Of a Kind": Hidden on the gameboard were four sets of four of a kind.
"2, 3, 4, 5": Hidden among the sixteen cards was one hand of five cards; payoff for five of a kind was $300.
"Strategy": Three cards were uncovered at the start of the round; the players called two other cards each on their first two turns and selected two cards from the five that were showing. On their third turns (and any subsequent ones), they each called out one card.

Round 3 was called "Wild Card Hand". In this round, there were several wild cards (or "jokers"), which made five of a kind possible; as in "2, 3, 4, 5", payoff for five of a kind was $300.

Each time a card was uncovered, the player in control had a decision to make: s/he could either add that card to his/her hand and continue playing, or pass it up and forefit control to his/her opponent. Play continued in this manner until one player successfully completed his/her hand; at that point, the other player had to complete his/her hand immediately with whatever cards s/he called off.

At the end of each round, the players recieved payoffs for their hands (and, of course, the player with the better hand recieved a $50 "high hand bonus"); the player with the most money at the end of round 3 won the game and went on to play the bonus round. The losing contestant got to keep whatever money s/he had earned, and also recieved a copy of the "Super Pay Cards!" home game.

Bonus Round:
The bonus round was played in three steps.

Step 1: The contestant was shown four cards for four seconds; Mary Lou held the same four cards in her hand, and the contestant picked one of those cards and tried to remember where it was located on the board. If successful, s/he recieved $50.

Step 2: Same as above, only the contestant was shown eight cards for eight seconds, and successfully matching the one chosen from Mary Lou's hand was worth $500.

Step 3: Twelve cards for twelve seconds; matching the card here won $5,000.


This show was a revival of Nicholson-Muir's 1968-69 game show "Pay Cards!", which was also hosted by Art James.

The theme song for this show was also used as the theme for N-M's short-lived 1975 game show "Spin-Off." The SPC theme, however, used a different arrangement: while Spin-Off's theme was all-synthesizers, the SPC arrangement used trumpets and trombones.

Midway through each episode (before the start of the third round) was the "audience participation game." An audience member studied eight cards on the SPC gameboard for eight seconds and then picked a card from Mary Lou's hand (much like in the bonus round). If s/he successfuly found the chosen card on the gameboard, s/he won a small prize. These included:
  • Popcorn poppers
  • A fire escape ladder(!)
  • Crockpots
    (the latter made infamous from an episode where MLB offered one to a less-than-enthused audience member)
    It should be noted that the "audience participation game" segment was seen only on the Canadian airings; since Canadian televison has less commercial time than the U.S. does, it was used as a "filler" to close the time gap.

    For almost 10 years after SPC was cancelled, Hamilton, Ontario independent station CHCH (Ch. 11) aired reruns of the show.

    After SPC ended in 1982, Mary Lou Basaraba starred in two short films for the National Film Board of Canada: "The Last Right" (1984) and "The Concert Stages of Europe" (1985). Don't worry, though; neither movie featured crockpots!

    And after that, MLB enjoyed a stint as the Canadian spokeswoman for Pond's cold cream in the late 80s.

    But what else did MLB do after SPC? You can find out here when you read colleague
    Tom Hornikel's "Letter from Mary Lou"!