My 10 Favorite ‘Price is Right’ Pricing Games
Featuring a rotating collection of pricing games, ‘The Price is Right’ has been a high-rated fixture on daytime television for 45 years.
On September 4, 1972, the current run of The Price is Right made its television debut with Bob Barker at the helm.
It was a reboot of the original version, which had been off the air for seven years. That version had four contestants taking turns bidding on items, one bid at a time, over and over again.
That gameplay became the qualifying round, the “one-bid” round, in the new version, which would then have the winner of that round come on stage to play one of dozens of pricing games for big prizes or cash.
In honor of the show’s big anniversary, I decided to make a list of my favorite pricing games.
1. Punch a Bunch
A contestant must correctly guess prices of four small items to earn punches on a giant board. The board consists of tubes with a slip of paper inside closed off with tissue paper. Whichever tubes the contestant punches through, they have the chance to keep the amount of money inside, up to $25,000.
Here’s a playing in which things didn’t quite go as planned:
This game is largely regarded as the favorite on the show. Contestants must correctly price four items to win a Plinko chip and they’re given an extra chip for free. They then drop the chips, one by one, into a giant Japanese Pachinko machine. The chips fall through a network of pegs and land in a slot at the bottom of the game board. The contestants win the amount of money listed on each slot, up to $50,000.
Here’s the very first playing from 1982:
3. 3 Strikes
A contestant is shown a high-priced automobile and must draw from a bag of chips that have either digits from the price of the car or a strike. If the contestant draws a digit, she must correctly guess which place in the price of the car that digit belongs. If she’s wrong, the chip goes back into the bag. The contestant wins if she can correctly fill out the digits of the price of the car before she draws the strike three times.
Here’s an exciting playing for a Corvette:
4. The Golden Road
This game isn’t played very often because it features three prizes increasing in price until the third often nears the $100,000 mark. They begin with a two digit grocery item, then walk down the “golden road” to the first of three prizes whose price has a concealed digit. The hidden number is one of the two numbers that make up the price of the grocery item. If correct, they go to the second prize with a four-digit price. One of those digits is hidden and the contestant must guess which of the three digits that make up the price of the first prize is also the hidden digit for the second prize. The third prize’s price normally contains five digits but occasionally is a six-digit price.
Here’s an example of a big win:
This is a simple game in which a contestant has to price three small items. For each dollar they miss their guess, a “mountain climber” takes a step up an Alp. If the contestant misses the prices by a total of more than $25, poor Hans goes tumbling off the top of the mountain.
The biggest shock for this game might be that the famous music that plays during the mountain climber’s hiking actually is a real tune, not something designed just for the show:
6. Any Number
Trivia buffs likely know this was the first game played on the first episode from Sept. 4, 1972. It was also the final game played on Bob Barker’s final episode as host from June 15, 2007. Game play is very simple: the digits 0-9 each appear once somewhere on the board in the price of one of two prizes or a “piggy bank,” whose price is in dollars and cents. Contestants must call out digits until they fill out the price of one of the three slots, and whichever one they fill first is the price of the prize they win.
Here’s an early playing from January of 1973:
7. Lucky 7
Contestants are given seven $1 bills and have to guess the digits of the price of a car. (The first digit is given free.) They have to give back a dollar for each dollar they’re away from each digit, and if they have at least $1 left at the end of the game, they can buy the car.
Here’s a playing with a little mishap before the game begins:
8. Clock Game
This was one of the first five pricing games ever introduced on the show. Contestants are given 30 seconds to try to guess the prices of two prizes. With each guest, the hose says higher or lower and they keep guessing until they win or until time runs out. Often, this game is an easy win. Occasionally, people really get tripped up.
Once in the rarest of blue moons, something like this happens:
This game has been retired from the rotation of pricing games for years, but it’s still a favorite of mine. It involved contestants trying to guess prices of small prizes to win throws on a giant Skee-Ball board. The game was reportedly retired because it took too long to play.
But it might have been retired to protect Barker from injury:
10. 10 Chances
Contestants have the chance to win three prices: one with two digits in its price, one with three and one with five — generally a car. For each price (except the last one), contestants are shown a group of numbers with one more digit than is needed, and must determine which digits make up the actual price of the item. They have a total of 10 chances to win all three prize.
In this particular playing, though, something went awry during the setup of the game, and the card that was supposed to display the numbers that make up the prices had fallen and the actual prices were displayed instead. So there was only one way to handle it:
That’s my list.