Where among these Target Numbers...

Would you put the number of vertically symmetrical letters in the alphabet?

If you said between, then you could be a winner on...

OBJECTIVE: Two players compete. Using strategy, place cards on a board so that they go in order from lowest to highest, or force your opponent into playing a card that didn't fit.


Every round begins by asking both players a toss-up question involving numbers. For every questions, a marquee will display two "Target Numbers", like these:

The correct answer to each question will either be Above, Below, or Between the teo Target Numbers. The contestants can buzz in as soon as the two Target Numbers are given - even if the question hasn't been read yet. The question that corresponds to the Target Numbers above might be How many items are in a gross? The answer is Below the Target Numbers - 144 to be exact.

If a player buzzes in with the right answer, he/she gets to control the next card off the top of the deck (the deck is shuffled and cut before each match). If a players is wrong, his/her opponent controls the next card. With control, the contestant has the choice of placing the next card from the deck on the board, or forcing his/her opponent to do so.

For the first two rounds, the board consists of six spaces on which to place cards. An empty board would look like this:

As stated above, the object of the game is to place a series of cards on the board, so that they end up going in order from lowest to highest. Let's say that the first card to be drawn from the deck is the Jack of Spades. Strategy suggests that the contestant place this card in slot #5, like so:

In this situation, all cards that are lower than a Jack must be placed to the left of it, while any card higher than a Jack must go to the right of it. If another Jack comes up, that's considered a foul.

To continue this example, say the Four of Diamonds comes up next. Again, the best strategy would be to put this card in slot #2, like this:

Once again, cards lower than a Four must go to its left, and cards higher than a Four go to the right. Now, say a Six of Clubs came up. This card has to go in either Slot #3 or Slot #4, and it would make sense to put it in #3.

This is where things get sticky. If a card comes up that cannot fit on the board, it's a foul and the player responsible for that card loses the round. On the board above, a Five is a bad card, since there is no space between the 4 and the 6 for the card to go. A player can pass the next card to his/her opponent if so desired, but there's a risk. If a player passes a card to his/her opponent and it turns out to be a safe card, that player then has the opportunity to turn the tables and "rush" the first player, forcing him/her to complete the board. Since the first card of the round is placed on an empty board, the winner of the first question automatically places that card.

A round is won in one of two ways: By either placing the sixth and final legal card on the board, or forcing your opponent to foul. Each round a player wins earns him/her $250, and it takes two rounds to win the match. If both players are tied after two rounds, a special tiebreaker round is played. with the following rule changes:


The bonus round is played on a board with 10 spaces. Once again, the contestant tries to place up to ten cards on the board so that they go in order from lowest to highest.

There are a few rule changes fo rthe bonus round. First of all, duplicate cards of the same rank are legal, as long as there is still a valid space for the card drawn, as shown above. Also, the contestant can continue playing even after getting up to two bad cards. The third bad card, however, ends the round.

The first four cards placed on the board are worth $50 each. The three cards that follow add $100 each to the player's score. The two cards that are placed legally on the board earn $250 each.

If the player successfully fills the board, he/she wins the bonus round. If two bad cards were drawn during the round, the contestant wins $5000. If one bad card came up, the player receives $10,000. If no bad cards are drawn and the player manages to make a perfect board, he/she wins $25,000. Champions stay on the show for up to five matches or until their winnings reach $25,000.


I have to give some partial credit for my discovery of this concept to one of the folks on my ICQ buddy list, Matt Kaiser. Matt wanted to try out one of his own home-grown ideas on me, and I obliged. Again, I don't remember the details, but it did involve playing cards. That kinda set me off, and I quickly drew up the infantile version of LotD. In its original form, the board increased from 4 slots in the first round, to 5 in the second, and finally 7 in the tiebreaker. The bonus round also had a double-or-nothing feel to it, with the first card being worth $50 and each card thereafter doubling that score, but three bad cards lost it all. (After two fouls, the player could stop with the money.)

Perhaps the most interesting story about this game is, once again, its title. The game was relatively popular among my friends on ICQ; I can remember playing this game at least a half-dozen times. One person who had played it in its younger stages (with the double-or-nothing bonus round format) asked me what the name of my new game was. Oddly enough, I hadn't come up with one yet. This person (most likely either Chris Jaunsen or David Livingston, two people I chatted with often back then) suggested some odd title like "Shark Slot Dealers" or other gibberish. A few seconds later, "Luck of the Draw" popped into my head. We both agreed that mine was better.

Luck of the Draw also appeared as a 'Netgame from 1999 to 2000. The format was understandably different than it is here: Players answered 6 Target Number questions, the right answers to which added money to the value of the cards placed on the board. Sadly, it didn't make it past the first season (I've come to the conclusion that I'm much better at seasonal things that take place over a definite timespan, like the GST. That way, by the time my interest is starting to wane, it's just about over anyway.) but it did attract a total of 24 players - not bad for multi-player Netgame standards.

WHO WOULD I HIRE? (If I couldn't pick myself)

Host: As this is a game that can straddle (meaning that a game carries over two episodes), I'd be a little more willing to choose somebody who can joke it up a little bit. Steve Beverly has an infatuation with Hollywood Showdown host Todd Newton, and I have to say that isn't such a bad idea for this show. He's certainly becoming a talented host, and this might work well with his hosting style.

Announcer: To solidify my position as a Beverly Hillbilly, I have to put Randy West in the booth on this one.

Set: The game would take place against a blue cyclorama, with the player's podiums camera left, host's podium upstage center, and the board for the cards to camera right. The contestant podiums would look like two playing cards, one for the Ace of Hearts and the other for the Ace of Spades, with the Ace of Clubs and Ace of Diamonds behind the players, respectively. When someone buzzes in for a question, their cards flash momentarily.


I love this game. For one thing, it's relatively simple to play. It's enough of a departure from Card Sharks to make it fully autonomous, yet there's still the elementary aspect of putting things in order. The buzzer battle element gives the game some quickness, and the three-tiered bonus payout offers more and more money for more substantial feats. And most of all, the term "Luck of the Draw" really comes into play. Someone can employ perfect strategy, placing cards where they do the least damage, passing when the odds favor a bad card, but it ultimately comes down to the luck of the draw to determine who wins and who loses.


There is a timing issue here. In fall of 2001, Pearson will be coming out with its revival of Card Sharks. While LotD is not the same thing, they both employ the same gimmick - playing cards. Granted, I sincerely doubt that this thing will make it to air any time in the near future, and if the new CS is anything like the pilot it probably won't last very long - but there could be a danger in letting this thing go out too soon. I also worry about how easily it will be to come up with numerical questions after a while. I want to avoid surveys - that's CS' turf - but outside of that realm the questions might get too elementary or too complex.



Questions, comments, cares or concerns? Use the link on the left to E-mail me and tell me what you think!

The Luck of the Draw theme song. (C) 2000 Tim Connolly
If you have a really snazzy sound card, click here for a high-quality version.

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