Game Show that aired in Canada from 1981-82, which was also syndicated in the United States. Two contestants, a man and a woman, competed in three rounds to build the best poker hands possible. In some markets, such as Sioux Falls, the show was aired between Midnight and 3:00 AM as scheduling allowed. It was a revival of the Pay Cards! series that aired in U.S. syndication from 1968 to 1969.
In each round, only 16 cards from a standard 52-card deck were in play. Contestants were awarded money based on the rank of their poker hands, from $20 for a pair to $200 for four-of-a-kind, along with a $50 bonus to the player who had the better hand after each round.
Round 1 was always "Five-Card Draw", and Round 3 was always "Wild Card Hand". Round 2 varied from day to day, using one of four variants:
- Two-Three-Four-Five: The board held two sets of pairs, a three-of-a-kind set, a four-of-a-kind set, and a set of cards with a fifth duplicate. The last set awarded $300 for five-of-a-kind, plus the $50 "high hand" bonus.
- Four-Of-A-Kind: The sixteen cards held four sets of four-of-a-kind, making it very possible for both players to earn a hefty $200.
- Strategy: Three cards were revealed at the start of the hand. The players would take two turns calling off cards (two each) and would pick two cards from the five showing for their hand. On their third turn, each player called for one last card, and picked one from the four displayed.
- Seven-Card Stud: Mary Lou gave each player a choice of two sets of two cards to place in front of their podium. The players then used these two cards with five more cards from the board, then revealed their hands to each other. (This variant does not appear to have been used very often, based on the episodes that circulate.)
The player with more money after Round 3 (maximum of $950) played a three-stage Bonus Round. There, the object was to study four, eight, or 12 cards for the same number of seconds, and then remember the location of one of those cards. The payouts were $50, then $500, then $5,000.
Game Show Tropes in use:
- Bonus Round: Study these cards on the board, then pick a card that Mary Lou is holding and give the number it's behind. Do this three times, win $5,000.
- Bonus Space: The Jokers (aka Wild Cards) during Round 3, which allowed for five-of-a-kind and a cool $350.
- Game Show Winnings Cap: One-and-done, which probably wasn't the best idea.
- Home Game: Given to contestants along with their final score, but may not have been released commercially (or at least not in America).
- Promotional Consideration: Depending on the episode, the consolation prize plugs were either rotated with Art and Mary Lou alternating one item at a time, or Mary Lou doing so solo.
- Undesirable Prize: The audience game offered such prizes as slow cookers, popcorn poppers, fire escape ladders and (most infamously) crockpots.
- The Announcer: Mary Lou Basaraba.
- Game Show Host: Art James.
- Lovely Assistant: Mary Lou, to an extent.
- Studio Audience: A member or two would play the eight-card portion of the bonus round with Mary Lou for the aforementioned "prizes", primarily to satisfy Canadian Content rules by getting The Announcer on-screen.
This show provides examples of:
- Curb-Stomp Battle: In one episode (Martin vs. Jeannette), the scores after Round 2 were $500 to $40. Despite Art himself acknowledging that there was no chance of the trailing contestant winning (the top payout was $350), Round 3 was played anyway, with the final scores ultimately $750 to $80.
- Excited Show Title!
- Filler: The audience game, seen only in Canadian broadcasts.
- Rearrange the Song: The show's Theme Tune was a remix of the one used on Nicholson-Muir's CBS game Spin-Off, which aired for a few months in 1975.