The YouTube Files – Gambit USA.

Gambit (CBS, 1972-1976)/Las Vegas Gambit (NBC, 1980-1981)

This is the original American version of the game show that ran for about a decade in this country. And well, whadda you know, Wink Martindale is out host again. Wink has had a very long career in TV and radio hosting, and he even had a hit single himself in the UK in 1959 with “Deck Of Cards” (although I’m not really sure that he’s a crooner), which makes him an appropriate choice to host this game show based around Pontoon, which featured oversized playing cards like Card Sharks/Play Your Cards Right.

The British version of Gambit was grandly described as “an Olympics of the mind”, this version was slightly more modest about the format. After the original run ended in the 70s, the show returned (following a channel switch) in the early-80s as Las Vegas Gambit, and now took place on a stage at a hotel in Las Vegas. The cards would be dealt by a female co-host, who unlike the UK version never took the chance to upstage our very suave host. vlcsnap-00054

Two married couples took part. They are asked a question and have to buzz in. Get it right, and they can play or pass the card on offer. The couple that gets the closest to scoring 21 wins the round and $100, and if they get exactly 21, they win a bonus cash prize that increases by $500 for every round that it’s not won. Hopefully the luck will be on their side. Make sure not to go bust, will you. Winning two games meant a chance to play the bonus round. vlcsnap-00052

Originally there was the Gambit Board. There were 18 squares, each contained a prize, such as money, a holiday, and so on. They are given a card and they can then choose the number. But once again, if they go bust, they’ll lose all the prizes, so they have to stop at the best moment. Behind some squares are some extra games such as Stop Or Go, where even more prizes can be won. vlcsnap-00053

This was later changed to the Gambit Galaxy. Instead of cards, this bonus game involved dice, and the idea was a little similar to High Rollers (a game show that I don’t think there’s been a British version of). Roll the dice, get the right combinations, and win the money and prizes on offer. For every time it wasn’t won, the prizes roll over to the next game, with even more added. One couple managed to win over $50,000 worth of prizes, and they were rather pleased about that. vlcsnap-00051

After this, the couple can play another game as defending champions, and things could get rather exciting. When the bell goes though, wherever they are, that means it’s the end of the show, so games could straddle. Wink then goes off to try and shake everyone in the studio audience’s hands. After Las Vegas Gambit ended in 1981, there have been no further revivals of the format in America.

Game Show Memories – Gambit.

Gambit (ITV, 1975-1985)

Gambit isn’t a game show that I remember watching first time round, but when I discovered that it was a show based around playing cards in a similar style to Play Your Cards Right which is a classic I was intrigued to find out more. Gambit was based on an American format and was originally hosted by Fred Dinenage (presumably taking a day off from working on How), and where some people would think that this was merely a game show, Fred took the whole thing very seriously and rather grandly described Gambit as “an Olympics of the mind”.

Gambit was a rare Anglia production for ITV, with Sale Of The Century being one of their other famous game shows that was made around the same time. Two married couples took part, and they had to answer questions to earn cards in a game that was based on pontoon. Assisting Fred was Michelle who would deal the cards, and it would be the best of three games. vlcsnap-00479

A general knowledge question would be asked. The team that buzzed in and got it right would then be offered a card which they would take or pass to the other team. The idea is to get a score of 21 or as close as possible, but if you go over 21 you’ll go bust and lose the round. If a team decides to stick, the other team is asked three questions to try and beat their score. Whoever wins the round wins £20. If a team does win a round with a score of exactly 21 they could win a bonus of as much as £500, and Fred would be delighted for them. vlcsnap-00480

The first team to win two games then goes on to play the Gambit Board for prizes. This was a board with 21 numbers on it, with a prize behind each one, things like holidays or cars. A number is picked and then the prize is revealed. They are then shown a card. If they stick they can keep their prizes, and if they score exactly 21 they can choose a bonus star prize. But if they go bust, they lose all their prizes. They then meet their next opponents for another regular game, and teams could have up to two goes on the Gambit Board, so if the cards went their way a lot of money and prizes could be won by them. vlcsnap-00483

Gambit was remembered for featuring some bizarre moments including when Fred would get frustrated by contestants not listening to him and he would say to them “you got a problem there?” (which it seems unintentionally became one of the show’s catchphrases), and he would also be less than impressed when Michelle tried to upstage him by making a daft joke. The look on his face was remarkable. vlcsnap-00485

Gambit ran for almost a decade on ITV, and in 1984 Tom O’Connor became the new host. There was a brief revival though when in the 90s a new series was made but it seems that this was shown only in the Anglia region. Now I have seen a couple of editions for myself I thought that it was rather enjoyable really, and Fred’s struggle with the contestants and his assistant was almost as entertaining as the gameplay.