Friday, October 21, 2005

What part of "closest to the price without going over" don't you understand?

They're called "Price is Right rules" for a reason. And they're especially applicable when you're playing ... The Price is Right!

Price is Right is essentially a game of luck, aside from a few of the on-stage games in which people who play close attention to the grocery-store prices have an edge. When you're on "contestant's row," you're just guessing, unless you happen to have authoritative knowledge of the comparative value of various saunas and grandfather clocks.

But strategy matters. A lot. And it's sooo freaking simple that it's infuriating when people don't know it.

If you're the last person to bid, you have a huge advantage. You've heard three bids. Then you get to pick a range of prices while simultaneously eliminating one person, unless that person got it exactly right.

Let's say you're the fourth person, and the other three bids are as follows:

1. $950
2. $600
3. $700

If the number in your head was "$850," stop. Do NOT bid $850. Bid $701.

It's incredibly simple. If you bid $850, you win ONLY if the price is between $850 and $949. If you bid $701, you win if it's $725, $745, $770, etc.

Yet more than half of the people on contestant's row just don't get it. A lot of people understand the strategy of bidding $1 when they think everyone else has bid too much, but not that you should always bid $1 over one of the bids.

This week, I saw the worst bid I've ever seen. And it wasn't some young kid -- this woman had a T-shirt claiming she'd waited 53 years to be on the show (longer than its actual run, though not by that much). She had the last bid. She paused and asked what the last person bid, which is perfectly valid. The answer: $850. Her bid ... $849.

Yes, $849. Either she was really, really sure of that price and wanted to get the bonus money out of Barker's pocket, or she really screwed up.

The person who bid $850 won, by the way. So yes, karma exists.

1 comment:

Neel Mehta said...

53 years, huh? What a dumb old bat.

I have a similar frustration with the contestants' final bids on Jeopardy! Clearly this is an idiot savant situation, as they're smart enough to amass money but clueless as to wagering it.

I'll spare you the numbers here and maybe put that rant in my own blog.