That’s Yer (Pi)Lot: Play Your Cards Right

By | December 17, 2011

It’s very late so I’ll keep this to the point:

  • First thing to note, researchers were interviewing married couples in the audience for reasons which will transpire later.
  • Apparently they were an hour late with their rehersal, which is not a great sign given that PYCR is one of the simplist formats going.
  • We also get to see the cards getting cut by the contestants, and a named member of the audience cuts the Golden Deck for the end. They’re going high on transparency.
  • New titles, but music seems to be the same PYCR rave anthem it used in Brucie’s last series.
  • The set. Imagine, if you will, the old Brucie bakground but if it was in the middle of being sucked into a black hole. There is a large stage back of set with four giant suit symbols on, the middle ones pivot to act as doors. The card shelves are also on a turntable – front game one side, end game(s) the other. The contestant’s podiums are in their normal place, the desk consisting of three screens, and light-y up arrows either side of the two end screens. Of stage right is the car, which they managed to keep well hidden until the end (or my eyes were drawn to the main set so I didn’t notice it).
  • Host is Vernon Kay, he is assisted by his “pair of Aces” Saffy and Tilly – black dresses, super sparkly high heels. They get to talk. In fact their parents were in the audience.
  • The girls get to introduce the couples. Vernon’s chat with the contestants basically interminable.
  • I like Vernon, but I think he’s better used in slightly leftfield formats where he can channel his everyman spirit for the masses. He’s a host rather than an entertainer, and Play Your Cards Right is a show that requires the ability to work a crowd.
  • There are plenty of references to Brucie including a couple of homage catchphrases (“It’s nice to be back, to be back it’s… NICE!” I think was one of them, and certainly “you get nothing for a pair… NOT IN THIS GAME!” – I’m happy to let that go, although it probably shouldn’t be nicking Brucie’s phrases wholesale).
  • The game is exactly the same as the original, sans Brucie Bonuses, although it’s still the first couple to get to two games (third game a three-card one) to win the game.
  • The survey questions remain largely thought provoking and funny. But in a difference to the old show, the crowd are very much encouraged to shout their opinions. They also don’t seem to have supplied Vernon with Brucie style quips to cover the answer reveal and Vernon’s walk to the board (you know, “the other 45 said x” sort of thing) – this needs to be worked on, some of the transitions seemed awkward.
  • Again, another Kay issue, Brucie was brilliant at riding the crowd when turning the cards over and got into a speedy, excitement-building rhythm with it. This… was not really there this evening. Admittedly, there were some wacky cards. Also getting the rules regarding when you’re allowed to change cards or not (especially going into sudden death) is something that absolutely has to be down pat. On several instances he got it wrong and they had to retake.
  • Also, also, also, hide the mechanics, we don’t need a massive explanation as to why it’s sudden death, announce its the last question before it’s asked and leave it there. If you have to use the phrase “we’ve asked the maximum of four questions,” you’re doing television wrong.
  • Losers are given a “priceless” PYCR trophy.
  • The winners get to play the end game with the golden deck. “But before the deal, we need the reveal!” – the main board is on a Countdown style turntable, with the end game set up on the other side. Quite neat.
  • The end game is basically the same as it always was – Couple are spotted £500 to begin and asked a question (which of the two couples in the audience have been married the longest? Contestants’ absolutely logic: the couple who looked older.) A correct answer earns a further £500. £500 is also given at the beginning of the middle and top levels. £50 is the minimum bet, and they must bet at least half on the final top level. No suggestion of a push for a pair. They’re fond of the catchphrase, they’re going to use it at every avaliable opportunity.
  • To prove how exciting this is, everyone does a countdown from five to the final card reveal. Yes, really.
  • So with all that build up, that’s it isn’t it? Oh foolish reader, you can’t have a revival without a new bit.
  • The couple are asked if they want to gamble their winnings on the “Super 8” card. Basically, it’s double or nothing. Is the next card of the Golden Deck higher or lower than an 8? If it’s an 8 it’s an automatic lose. If they choose to gamble, a correct answer doubles their stake, a wrong one busts them.
  • However, as an enticement to gamble, if they go for it than win or lose they can have a shot at the car. Four special golden suit cards are dealt to each corner. If the couple can find the card with the suit that matches the suit of the last card turned over, they win the car. To increase their odds they’re asked a higher/lower GK question, if they’re right then two incorrect cards will be removed making it a 50:50 shot.
  • If that all feels a bit weird and dragged out to you, that’s because it is a bit weird and dragged out. I’m not even sure it’s particularly well thought out – if the couple do very well in the end game (top prize is £137,000) then what? They just buy a car and ignore the nonsense.
  • Two ad breaks, so they’re clearly angling for 45 minutes.
  • So there we have it. At it’s heart, it’s the same Play Your Cards Right we know and love. On the other hand, it’s a bit like All-Star Family Fortunes in that it feels like they’ve got someone who had never seen it before, let them watch one episode and then an hour later without taking notes asked them to recreate the appeal of the original as best they can. It’s 80% there, but the other 20% is a bit offputting.

9 thoughts on “That’s Yer (Pi)Lot: Play Your Cards Right

  1. David Howell

    6/13 chance of winning on Super 8, so the EV of taking it is somewhere between three-eighths and one-half of the value of the car (depending on cluelessness on the higher/lower question), minus 1/26 of the starting prize fund. It’s going to be EV+, but it’ll probably be negative-utility at high stakes. I suspect we’ll see mostly gambles with less than £10k, and mostly sticks at over £20k.

    Amusingly the Super 8 bit does serve to prevent the show from having a lower top prize than DoND – without it then yes it’s £137k, with it then it’s £274k and a car. I’m still going to stick my neck out and say there will never be a PYCR entry on the ATWL, though, which makes it pretty cheap for modern ITV primetime.

    1. David Howell

      Doing more calculations, assuming a £15k car and no idea whatsoever on the question (i.e. 50% chance of getting it right by sheer luck), it’s EV- for bonus winnings above £73k. Surprisingly, that goes up to £97k if you know the question with certainty.

      Of course utility calculations are a bit more relevant to what contestants will actually do; taking the Fair Deal assumption of utility being the square root of the cash value, £31k is the tipping point if you definitely know the question, £17.5k is the tipping point if you definitely don’t. Again that assumes a £15k car (and you have to assume you’d actually value it at £15k – if you don’t want a new car, then it’s worth whatever you could sell it for, which would probably be nearer £10k).

      It’s actually a pretty well balanced decision, and it’s probably there so that people who don’t have the best of luck in the traditional bonus round still get the chance of a nice prize. Sort of like the double or nothing in some of the Brucie series when you didn’t get enough to go for the car – I largely suspect that’s what they based it on.

  2. Bob

    Thanks for the detailed report. Did they say when next year they’ll show PYCR if it gets a full series? Also, does Vernon take the piss out of the contestants like what Brucie used to do so brilliantly, without turning nasty?

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      No indication, although gut feeling suggests it running during Family Fortunes off season.

      Vernon basically did his thing of sounding incredulous then smiling at the camera whenever the contestants said or did something silly. He’s no Bruce, but he’s not nasty or anything.

      Actually during the contestant chats one of them mentioned they did Zumba, so everybody went out front of stage and a member of the audience was called down and they did some Zumba. I’m expecting the meet the contestant chats to last a while, but for that to work you need someone properly funny.

  3. Mart with an Y not an I

    Theme Tune version used last night.
    Hated it when I first heard it, but then after a couple of listens it’s sort of grown on me. I can hear the original instumentation in it – but you do miss the piano riff and the key change drum beats from the Lawrie Holloway 2nd incarnation theme arrangement.

    Doesn’t surprise me about the ‘super 8’ game in the format – although I was expecting something introduced along the lines of a BlackJack 21 game gamble for some reason.

  4. Des Elmes

    Well, I still hope it flops. 👿

    Especially with the “weird and dragged out” end to the end game… 👿

    “Also, also, also, hide the mechanics, we don’t need a massive explanation as to why it’s sudden death, announce its the last question before it’s asked and leave it there. If you have to use the phrase “we’ve asked the maximum of four questions,” you’re doing television wrong.”

    Now why am I not the tiniest little bit surprised there? 🙄

    Especially when we’ve had six series of All-Star Family Fortunes, and still Vernon is explaining its rules like everyone watching is five years old… 👿 🙄

    Twat. 👿

  5. Lirodon

    I am just plain glad that they at least modelled it off of the old Brucie version instead of trying to re-invent the wheel like the American version did that one year.

    God that was awful.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.