Deal or No Deal

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The logo for 'Deal or No Deal'.

Airdates: NBC December 2005, NBC February 2006 - Present
Host: Howie Mandel
Announcer: Joe Cipriano
Banker: Peter Abbay
Producer: Endemol Productions



Regular Gameplay

The gallery of 26 cases
The gallery of 26 cases
One contestant is brought onto the stage to play the game. At the start of the game, the player is shown an array of 26 numbered briefcases. Each briefcase conceals a money amount randomly placed by a third party. The contestant picks one of the cases to claim as their own for the duration of the game.

The dollar amounts range as follows:

$.01 $1000
$1 $5000
$5 $10,000
$10 $25,000
$25 $50,000
$50 $75,000
$75 $100,000
$100 $200,000
$200 $300,000
$300 $400,000
$400 $500,000
$500 $750,000
$750 $1,000,000

Once the player has selected a case, s/he then begins to open the cases remaining in the gallery. Since each case has a unique money amount, discovering a particular amount in the gallery eliminates it as a possibility for the player's case. The first round sees the player open six cases from the gallery; each of the next four rounds requires one fewer case opened than the round before it. From the sixth round onward, players only open one case at a time until either a deal is made or only two cases are left.

A contestant ponders a $38,000 offer
A contestant ponders a $38,000 offer
After each round, the host receives a phone call by the "Banker", a representative of the producers whose goal it is to retrieve the case for as little as possible. The banker makes an offer to "buy back" the player's case, based on which dollar amounts are still in play and at what point in the game they are in. The host then relays this offer to the player, who then is given the choice of "Deal", thus ending the game and leaving with the money offered; or "No Deal", which rejects the offer and progresses the game to the next round.

Play continues in this manner until either a Deal is taken or only two cases remain - the player's case and the last case in the gallery. At this point, the player is given the option of switching cases with the one in the gallery. Regardless of this choice, the player's case is then opened, and the player leaves with the money amount inside. If a Deal is taken before play has reached its end, the contestant is still reponsible for playing the game out and opening the remaining cases as if s/he were still playing, under the pretense of finding out whether the Deal made was done at the optimal time, or if the contestant would have been better off taking the case.


On more than one occasion, special versions of the game are played, often done to improve the chances of a large win by the contestant.

  • Escalating values: To help celebrate the show's return to air in early 2006, as well as its second season premiere in September of 2006, each successive game played during that week increased the value of the top case, either by $500,000 or $1,000,000, depending on the event. Lower values were also increased to make it more likely that a player would find a seven-figure case. In the first series, the cases increased to $3,000,000; in the second series to $6,000,000; and the second series finale had three cases worth $1m, $2.5m and $5m.
  • "Double Deal": Certain games are deemed to be "Double Deal" games, in which every dollar value on the board is doubled, making the values range from $.02 to $2,000,000.
  • Double or Nothing: Players offered Double or Nothing can risk all of their money by opening one of two giant cases brought out at the conclusion of the game. One case will double the money, one will lose it all.
  • Million Dollar Mission: Since the show had gone two full seasons without a million-dollar winner, the first few shows of the third season incorporated this element, which augmented the value of one additional case to $1,000,000, up to a maximum of seven cases. The other case values did not change, however, meaning that if a player eliminated every $1,000,000 case, the next highest available prize could be as low as $10,000. 2008 began with a similar mission with up to thirteen $1m cases, giving players a 50% chance of choosing a million-dollar case.
  • Deal Wheel: After certain games in December 2007, players must risk part of their winnings by dropping a large ball down a pegboard until it settles between the spokes of a wheel on the bottom, potentially doubling, tripling, or halving their original winnings.
  • Winner Takes All: Also in December 2007, three players compete to win the most money; whoever ends their game with the biggest amount of money wins the combined amounts of all three games. The other players are paid an honorarium for their appearance.


  • It is common for the banker to offer a prize to the contestant as part of their deal. In many cases, the prize is of earnest value (such as a new car), while other times they are intended primarily as a joke (such as offering a dozen donuts to a police officer).
  • On many other episodes, contestants have been given gifts outside of the game by others, usually celebrity guests of which the player is a devoted fan. Most notably was a trip to Las Vegas to see a Celine Dion concert during the first season finale; and a Jeep Patriot awarded to a New Yorker who heroically saved another's life, on an episode that aired just before the season finale of NBC's Heroes.
  • During each episode, home viewers are invited to play in the show's "Lucky Case Game". Viewers either vote online or use their cell phone to predict which of six cases holds the night's prize, which is normally $10,000 but can go as high as $100,000 on special episodes. Those who correctly predict the case that carries the money are entered in the drawing.

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