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Backing the Banker - April 13

I admit it. I'm a lout. When I watch Deal or No Deal (and that's rare, at that) I will typically root for the Banker to win. Given the way the money works, I define a Banker Victory as someone going home with less than $10,000, and the Sunday reruns have not disappointed. While everyone else is drinking the Flavor-Aid and jumping up and down in their chairs as people are winning truckloads of money for picking numbers and pushing a button, I'm watching to see just how bad the banker will stick it to his victims. The problem is that he doesn't do much sticking at all.

In the early rounds, the "Banker" (I think we all know that the actual offers are calculated on a spreadsheet and determined by a producer) may as well be throwing a dart at the wall to come up with his first offer. The players aren't going to bail out with a few thousand dollars, even after opening the $750,000 or $1 million. It just doesn't work like that. So the first three rounds are more preamble than anything, setting the stage for the real struggle that comes when the game goes into case-offer-case-offer mode.

By that point, the offers are completely predictable. With a few cases to go, the posted offer will almost always be an eensy bit lower than the expected value of the remaining cases. The problem is that an offer that is close to the average of what is left doesn't make for an interesting decision. If the remaining amounts are $1, $100,000 and $500,000, an offer of $200,000, while being completely fair, isn't very interesting. I submit that a more "interesting" offer would be of $125,000 or so. At that point, an actual decision must be made, rather than figuring if $200,000 is "enough." Yawn.

The other point that disappoints me is when there are fewer "big" amounts than cases to open in the next round. At this point, the Banker has the player over a barrel, but he refuses to tighten the screws. Take a sample board of $1, $5, $10 and $400,000. A normal offer will be $100,000, to the surprise of no one. A more interesting offer would be $35,000. In order to get to the $400,000, the player must walk that tightrope every step, and avoid the $400,000. The player should have to decide whether the outside shot at big bucks is worth giving up a smaller sum, rather than a "fair one". There's nothing "fair" about being the Banker.

I've long given up the idea that Deal or No Deal is anything resembling good television, but it would be nice to see the Banker live up to his reputation, like he does in other countries.

You can make Travis Eberle an offer he won't refuse at


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