The sad thing about "Deal or No Deal"

Being a contestant on this show requires no talent whatsoever. You pick suitcases. You decide whether you prefer a riskless offer of money to a risky one. Then you go home with a bunch of money. Along the way, the crowd and your chosen friends scream and cheer like there is great skill in choosing among ex ante identical suitcases. Contestants beam with pride when they pick a good suitcase instead of a bad one. The whole thing has a veneer of skill, when really there is almost no skill at all.

Contrast that with Survivor, Apprentice, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, or Amazing Race. On those shows, winning requires some talent.

Deal or No Deal is essentially a lottery. I find that a little depressing.

You can play it online, as a commenter noted below. It is fun to watch the offers that are made and to try to infer what formula is driving the offers.

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  1. D says:

    Amen…which is why “Jeopardy!” remains the King of the Quiz Shows. Big difference between “game show” and “quiz show.”

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  2. D says:

    Amen…which is why “Jeopardy!” remains the King of the Quiz Shows. Big difference between “game show” and “quiz show.”

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  3. sophistry says:

    A fun paper to read is “A Natural Experiment in Jeopardy” (AER 1995)
    The author tests how optimal people bet during final jeopardy. People tend to bet rationally when the choices are obvious. But when all three contestants are in contention the bettings is a little suboptimal.

    Seems like tv shows are quite popular with economists (Jeopardy, Deal or No Deal, the Weakest Link).

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  4. sophistry says:

    A fun paper to read is “A Natural Experiment in Jeopardy” (AER 1995)
    The author tests how optimal people bet during final jeopardy. People tend to bet rationally when the choices are obvious. But when all three contestants are in contention the bettings is a little suboptimal.

    Seems like tv shows are quite popular with economists (Jeopardy, Deal or No Deal, the Weakest Link).

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  5. mike529 says:

    Basically every choice you make has no effect on your predicted winnings. It cn be interesting to see how risk-averse people are but not to the extent that I would bother watching. It is perfect for people who like to second guess because half the time they should thave changed their pick.

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  6. mike529 says:

    Basically every choice you make has no effect on your predicted winnings. It cn be interesting to see how risk-averse people are but not to the extent that I would bother watching. It is perfect for people who like to second guess because half the time they should thave changed their pick.

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  7. StCheryl says:

    One point about Jeopardy: it requires not only knowledge/factual trivia and a great memory, but a bubbly personality and great hand/eye/ear coordination to hit the buzzer at exactly the right time in order to be chosen first. I passed two written Jeopardy tests easily, but couldn’t figure out the buzzer system and got so flummoxed, that when I finally did, I was rattled and therefore not very enthusiastic. I was told that I failed the personality screening!

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  8. StCheryl says:

    One point about Jeopardy: it requires not only knowledge/factual trivia and a great memory, but a bubbly personality and great hand/eye/ear coordination to hit the buzzer at exactly the right time in order to be chosen first. I passed two written Jeopardy tests easily, but couldn’t figure out the buzzer system and got so flummoxed, that when I finally did, I was rattled and therefore not very enthusiastic. I was told that I failed the personality screening!

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