Deal Or No Deal is not a game of logic. It is not a game of skill, or of strong decision-making and sound judgement. It is a game of gut feelings, emotionally going with your instincts and designed to put those with a sense of adventure and an emotional backstory on television and toy with their extremely expressive personalities for fun and — sometimes a little — profit.
The problem is that your gut can’t do math. Your instincts don’t have student loan debts and your sense of adventure doesn’t have a 401k to contribute to. If Deal Or No Deal were about logic, contestants would have a general sense of how much money they wanted to siphon out of the game show industrial complex, and if they were lucky enough to blindly pick metal briefcases in the right order that the offer were high enough, they walk away satisfied with a decent payday.
That’s not what happens, though. The show specifically casts lunatics. Wait, no, that’s rude. They cast emotionally vulnerable contestants who delude themselves into thinking they are somehow smarter than the puppetmasters behind the scenes. They are not, and that’s why stuff like this keeps happening.
Deal Or No Deal is back on CNBC for a holiday edition, with Howie Mandel delivering more hapless rubes the chance at large sums of money their panicky, scatterbrained contestants will inevitably lose because they don’t understand basic odds and probability. The latest victim is Luis Green, a Jacksonville sales consultant who hit the jackpot by randomly picking briefcases in an order that doesn’t matter at all and winding up with a huge offer on the table. With just two cases left, he sat with a $5 case and a $750,000 case left on the board. More importantly, he had a $333,000 offer from the mysterious shadow that calls Howie Mandel to taunt the contestants and trigger their worst impulses.
Because this is America in 2018, you absolutely know what happens next.
Listen, Luis seems like a good dude. The people on stage supporting him seem nice. Howie Mandel also seems pretty nice. The shadowy figure? Eh, he’s probably trying his best. But the ball was dropped first and foremost by Luis here. Take the money dude. When you’ve lucked your way to $333,000 before taxes when the alternative is a decision that could leave you with five American dollars, you take the dang money.
Because all those probability questions you probably gave up on learning in math class have come back to haunt you, Jacksonville Man. The odds that you picked a super valuable case at the start of the show are extremely low. And those odds don’t change now that there is one extremely valuable case sitting on stage in front of you. It is not a 50/50 call. The only guarantee you had there was winning $333,000, and you decided to huck that into the Ocean Of Cool Guy Gut Feelings because you are a tremendous rube.
The worst part about it all is that Luis already had taken The Big Gamble that I’d always advise against taking in the game. He turned down $217,000 to take away another case, amazingly leaving the $750,000 and $5 behind. He had done it, and yet, he still pressed forward.
It’s almost like they know that and presented the numbers as such so he would walk away with a decent tip for the waitress at the Jacksonville Hooters after some wings with your bro Pillboi. Weird.
Thinking logically, that was a dumb thing to do, and the extra $116,000 of juice probably wasn’t worth the squeeze here. And he got away with it anyway! So when the gamble paid off, he should have hit that buzzer so fast his hand left a vapor trail.
And yet, he had to consult his gut and all the other parts of his body that got him on stage to make a mistake in the first place. His entire family is screaming “TAKE IT” at him over and over again.
“I hear you,” Luis, a rube, said. “And I know why everyone is saying take the deal. It’s smart. At the same time I feel like everybody is saying take the deal because they’re rooting for me and they want me to leave with something.”
Sure, bud. That’s what everyone is thinking when they are screaming at you to make a sound, logical decision. Whatever gets you off that stage and starts you filling out some tax paperwork my guy. He then launches into a nonsensical speech that defies medicine.
“My mom beat cancer on chance,” he said, ignoring the medical expertise and a team of doctors that undoubtedly saved her life.
“Your mom would take the deal,” Luis’ mother says, astutely. She sounds smart. Perhaps she should be a contestant on Deal Or No Deal.
He then decides to counter. His counter: no deal! He shuts the case covering the button dramatically. He throws it all away. He’s completely out of his mind. Because Luis still had to do the one thing that undoes every Deal Or No Deal contestant in the end: he had to convince himself that he picked $750,000 at the start of the show. Amid 30 different cases, amid seasons full of contestants, here was the one true genius. The mark that assumed he pulled suitcase excalibur from the soundstage, outsmarting everyone who makes Deal Or No Deal profitable despite literally giving away suitcases full of money.
Surely, he had done it. He had not.
Anyway enjoy that five bucks, Luis. Maybe buy some scratch offs with it or something.