High Rollers

High Rollers is an American television game show that involved contestants trying to win prizes by rolling dice. The format was based on the dice game Shut the Box.

High Rollers debuted on July 1, 1974, as part of NBC's daytime lineup. In September 1975, an accompanying series was launched in syndication and aired once weekly on local stations. Both of these series ended in 1976, with the daytime series ending on June 11, 1976. Alex Trebek was the host for these series. On April 24, 1978, NBC brought High Rollers back with Trebek hosting and aired it until June 20, 1980, when it was one of three series cancelled to make room for The David Letterman Show. The series was produced by Heatter-Quigley Productions.[1]

In 1987, Merrill Heatter, working solo since his production partner Bob Quigley's retirement in 1981, teamed with Orion Television and its subsidiary Century Towers Productions to revive High Rollers with Wink Martindale as host. This series premiered in daily syndication on September 14, 1987, and aired new episodes until May 27, 1988. Reruns aired until September 9, 1988.[1]

High Rollers
High Rollers '87
High Rollers 1987 title card
GenreGame show
Based onShut the Box
Directed byJerome Shaw
Presented byAlex Trebek (1974–80)
Wink Martindale (1987–88)
Narrated byKenny Williams (1974–80)
Dean Goss (1987–88)
Theme music composerStan Worth (1974–80)
Score Productions (1987–88)
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes559 (1978–80 version)
185 (1987–88 version)
Executive producer(s)Merrill Heatter
Bob Quigley
Production location(s)NBC Studios
Burbank, California (1974–80)
CBS Television City
Hollywood, California (1987–88)
Running timeapprox. 26 minutes
Production company(s)Heatter-Quigley Productions (1974–80)
Merrill Heatter Productions (1987–88)
Century Towers Productions (1987–88)
DistributorRhodes Productions (1975–76)
Orion Television Syndication (1987–88)
Original networkNBC (1974–80)
Syndicated (weekly, 1975–76; daily, 1987–88)
Original releaseJuly 1, 1974 – June 11, 1976
April 24, 1978 – June 20, 1980
September 14, 1987 –
September 9, 1988



Two contestants competed. The object was to remove the digits 1 through 9 from a game board by rolling an oversized pair of dice. In order to determine who gained control of the dice, the host asked a toss-up question. The answers were usually multiple choice, true/false, or yes/no. The first contestant to buzz in received the chance to answer, and answering correctly won control. If that contestant did not answer correctly, control went to the opponent.

Once in control, a contestant could either roll the dice himself/herself or pass them to the opponent. After rolling, the contestant had to remove one or more digits from the board that added up to the total on the dice. For example, if a 10 was rolled, the contestant could remove any available combination that added up to that number: 1-9, 2–8, 3–7, 4–6, 1–2–7, 1–3–6, 1–4–5, 2–3–5, or 1–2–3–4, providing that none of the digits within the combination had already been removed. Contestants banked prizes by removing individual numbers or combinations of them, depending on the rules.

A "bad roll" occurred if the total showing on the dice did not correspond with any combination of the digits still in play. A contestant making a bad roll immediately lost the game unless he/she had an insurance marker (see below). A contestant clearing the last digit from the board won the game. The winner of each game received any prizes that were banked, or $100 if no prizes had been banked. The first contestant to win two games won the match and advanced to the Big Numbers bonus round.


The original series featured a prize or cash amount hidden under every digit on the gameboard, revealed and added to a contestant's bank only when that digit was removed.[2] Two digits each contained one half of a large prize, usually a new car, boat, or a luxury vacation. To bank this prize, both cards had to be uncovered by the same contestant.[2] If the contestants each revealed one of the two cards, the prize was taken out of play for that game.[2]

During the final seven weeks of the first daytime version (April 26 – June 11, 1976), the main game was known as "Face Lifters". Digits were arranged in a 3×3 grid and concealed a picture of a famous person. A contestant won the game by correctly identifying the person in the picture. A contestant could take a guess after making a good roll. If a contestant made a bad roll, the opponent was allowed one guess for each remaining digit in the picture. A successful guess won the game plus the prizes belonging to the digits still on the board. If neither contestant guessed the identity correctly, Trebek gave clues until one contestant buzzed-in with the answer.

A co-hostess (Ruta Lee, daytime and Elaine Stewart, nighttime) rolled the dice for the contestants. The contestants sat along the long side of the dice table opposite from Trebek. No insurance markers were given in the main game; a bad roll meant an automatic loss.

A syndicated version with almost identical rules ran weekly in 1975–76. Each episode featured the same two contestants competing for the entire show. After the first few episodes the rules were changed so that rather than requiring contestants to win a two-out-of-three match, the winner of each game played the Big Numbers, and the losing contestant returned for another game. The contestants played as many games as possible until time was called. If this happened during a game, the one who had removed more digits won the final game and any prizes accumulated. Under the two-out-of-three game format used in the first few episodes, the contestant also had another chance at the Big Numbers. Like other weekly nighttime game shows at that time, this version had no returning champions.


When the series was revived in 1978 (and originally titled The New High Rollers), the board consisted of three columns with three randomly assigned digits apiece. Each column contained one or more prizes, which were only banked by the contestant who removed the last digit from a column (regardless of who removed the others). The prizes ranged from typical game show gifts (furniture, appliances, trips, etc.) to more unusual items such as a collection of musical dolls or one year's worth of Sunday fried chicken dinners. Prizes that were banked but not won during a game were returned to their columns. One new prize was added per column at the beginning of each game, to a maximum of five. When the prizes in a column were won, a new one was placed in that column for the next game.

At least one column in each game was designated as a "hot column," meaning that all three of its digits could be cleared with a single roll of the dice. Insurance markers could be earned by rolling doubles in the main game. If a contestant made a bad roll while holding a marker, he/she turned it in and rolled again. Making a bad roll without a marker lost the game. Markers earned in the main game did not carry over to the Big Numbers or to the next match.

Contestants on this version rolled the dice themselves, instead of having a hostess roll for them.


This version followed the rules of the 1978–80 version, but with only one prize available in each column. If any prizes were not won during a particular game, they were replaced for the next one. Frequently, one column offered a chance to play a special game if the contestant claimed it and won the round. For the special games described below, only one die was used.

  • Around the World: Each number on a die corresponded to one of five available trips. Rolling a six won all five trips (i.e., a trip around the world). Regardless of the outcome of the game, the winner also received $5,000 in spending money. Later, the $5,000 cash bonus was dropped.
  • Cookie Jar: The contestant rolls a die and whatever number the contestant rolls is worth $100 times the value of the die. However, rolling a six earns the contestant $1,500. The game was also known as "Trick or Treat" on the Halloween episode.
  • Diamond Mine: Each number from one through six was worth some type of jewelry. Rolling the corresponding number won that piece of jewelry.
  • Dice Derby: This game mimicked a horse race. One horse was designated with even numbers (2, 4 and 6), and the other odd numbers (1, 3 and 5). The contestant rolled the die and the appropriate horse moved one space depending on the outcome. The first horse to move four spaces on the track won the race and a prize for the contestant. The even horse carried a larger prize, which was usually a trip or car, and the odd horse awarded a smaller prize, such as a short vacation or $1,000.
  • Driver's Test: The contestant controlled a game piece on a twelve space gameboard, arranged in a 4×4 ring of spaces. The contestant had six rolls of a die to make the piece land exactly on the "CAR" space, which was seven spaces away from the starting position. The piece always moved toward the "CAR" space. If a roll caused it to overshoot the target, the next roll had the piece reversing direction. Failure to win the car won the cash amount on the final resting space, up to $2,500.
  • For Lovers Only: Each number represented a romantic vacation and the contestant won the trip represented by the number.
  • Full House: Each number on a die corresponded to a different room of a house. The contestant won the room corresponding to the number rolled. However, if a contestant rolled a six, the contestant won all five rooms in the house.
  • Island Hoppers: Each number represented an island vacation, and the contestant won the trip represented by the number rolled.
  • It Takes Two: A different prize was assigned to each number on the die. The contestant continued to roll the die until repeating a number, winning the prize corresponding to that number.
  • Love Letters: The contestant rolled a die up to six times to reveal letters in a six-letter word. Solving the word at any time won a new car. Otherwise, the contestant won $100 for every letter that was revealed.
  • Lucky Numbers: The contestant chose a number between one and six, and then rolled the die. A correct hunch won the contestant a new car.
  • Map Game: An earlier version of "Around The World" played similarly, except in this game rolling a six won a more expensive single-destination trip rather than a trip around the world.
  • Millionaire Game: Each number one through six was worth a certain number of California Lottery tickets. Rolling the corresponding number won that number of tickets.
  • Rabbit Test: The models wore fur coats, one of which was fake and the other was real rabbit fur. If the contestant could identify the real fur, they won the coat.
  • Screen Play: Each number one through six was worth a TV set of some type. Rolling the corresponding number won that TV.
  • Smiling Wink's Car Lot: Each number on a die represented a new car, except number six, which represented a "clunker," a used but operational car. The contestant rolled the die and won the car corresponding to the number rolled.
  • Wild Wheels: The contestant rolled a die, and if the contestant rolled an odd number, the contestant won a new car. If a contestant rolled a two or a four, the contestant won 1,000 gallons of gas. However, if a contestant rolled a six, the contestant won two cars.
  • Wink's Garage Sale: Six prizes, including a worthless gag gift, were available. Rolling a six won the gag gift.

The Big Numbers

The champion rolled the dice and attempted to remove the digits 1 through 9 from the board, with a large prize awarded for clearing them all. A larger game board was used, except on the 1978–80 series, which used the same board as the main game. Insurance markers were awarded for rolling doubles, with each marker giving the contestant another roll of the dice after making a bad roll. These markers did not carry over to the main game.

Contestants were awarded $100 for each digit removed from the board. In the earliest episodes of the 1974–76 version, contestants could stop and take this money after a good roll. A bad roll with no insurance markers, or eliminating all digits except for the 1, ended the game and forfeited the money. The contestant won a car for removing eight digits, and $10,000 for all nine. The rules were soon changed to eliminate the car bonus and allow the contestant to keep any accumulated money even after making a bad roll.

The 1978–80 version offered three top prizes at different times: a car plus $5,000 cash, the car alone, and the $5,000 alone. The 1987–88 version offered a prize of $10,000 and was played using a pair of gold-colored dice.

The Big Numbers bonus round was also used on Las Vegas Gambit, which was hosted by future High Rollers host Wink Martindale and was also produced by Heatter-Quigley Productions, in 1981. The round used the same dice table as the 1978–80 version (complete with sound effects) and had the same rules, but the top award was an accumulating jackpot of prizes known as the Gambit Galaxy.

Champions stayed on the show until they were defeated or until they won five matches (seven on the 1978–80 version). On the 1987–88 version, winning five matches originally won a new car but was later dropped by the time a contestant finally retired undefeated, which led to more cars being awarded in some of the mini-games played during the main game.

Production information


Alex Trebek and Wink Martindale served as hosts for High Rollers. Heatter-Quigley staff announcer Kenny Williams served as announcer for the Trebek versions. The 1987 series used Dean Goss as its announcer.

The 1970s editions of High Rollers were recorded at NBC's Burbank studio complex while the 1987 series taped at Studio 43 at CBS Television City in Hollywood (though the 1986 pilot was filmed instead at ABC Television Center [now The Prospect Studios]).[3][4]

Actress Ruta Lee and Gambit card dealer Elaine Stewart were the prize models on the first High Rollers series, with Lee performing those duties on the daytime series and Stewart the weekly syndicated series. As noted above, both women were also the dice rollers for the contestants. Becky Price, Linda Hooks, and Lauren Firestone rotated as models during the 1978 revival while Martindale was assisted on his version by models Crystal Owens and KC Winkler.


Stan Worth composed the theme for the 1974–76 and 1978–80 versions. In 1985, Score Productions composed a theme titled "Bubble Gum," originally for a failed Heatter pilot called Lucky Numbers (intended as somewhat of a revamp of this show with altered gameplay mechanics), which was reused for the 1987–88 version.


Two editions of home games were released in 1975, as Big Numbers: The High Rollers Game. The first edition was released by E.S. Lowe, while the second edition was released by Milton Bradley. Both versions have Trebek on the cover.[5] A board game based on the 1987 version was released by Parker Brothers in 1988. The cover shows Martindale and two contestants during a game.[5]

A computer game also based on the 1987 version was released for the Commodore 64, Apple II, and DOS by Box Office in 1988. The cover has Martindale holding a pair of Golden Dice in his left hand while pointing to them with his right.

International versions

An Australian version aired on the Seven Network for a brief period in 1975, hosted by Garry Meadows with Delvene Delaney and Suzanne Fox as the dealers. The announcer was Max Rowley. A Japanese version called SuperdiceQ, hosted by Masaru Doi, aired on TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System) from 1980 to 1984.

See also


  1. ^ a b David Schwartz, Steve Ryan and Fred Wostbrock, The Encyclopedia of TV Game Shows, 3rd ed., Checkmark Books, 1999, p. 92
  2. ^ a b c "High Rollers". "High Rollers". 1975-06-11. NBC.
  3. ^ "Shows–CBS Television City". Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  4. ^ David Schwartz, Steve Ryan and Fred Wostbrock, The Encyclopedia of TV Game Shows, 3rd ed., Checkmark Books, 1999, p. 92.
  5. ^ a b "High Rollers Image Gallery". BoardGameGeek.com. Retrieved 27 February 2014.

External links

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Alex Trebek

George Alexander Trebek (; born July 22, 1940) is a Canadian-American television personality. He has been the host of the syndicated game show Jeopardy! since it was revived in 1984, and has also hosted a number of other game shows, including The Wizard of Odds, Double Dare, High Rollers, Battlestars, Classic Concentration, and To Tell the Truth. Trebek is contracted to host Jeopardy! until 2022.Trebek has made appearances in numerous television series, usually portraying himself. A native of Canada, he became a naturalized United States citizen in 1998.

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Heatter-Quigley Productions

Heatter-Quigley Productions was an American television production company that was launched in 1960 by two former television writers, Merrill Heatter and Bob Quigley. After Quigley's retirement, the company became Merrill Heatter Productions.

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High roller

A high roller, also referred to as a whale, is a gambler who consistently wagers large amounts of money. High rollers often receive lavish "comps" from casinos to lure them onto the gambling floors, such as free private jet transfers, limousine use and use of the casinos' best suites. Casinos may also extend credit to a player to continue betting, offer rebates on betting turnover or losses, and salaries of employees may also contain incentive arrangements to bring in high rollers.The definition of a high roller varies. At Crown Casino in Australia, for example, it involves bringing between A$50,000 and $75,000 to the table. High roller players often have very high table limits allowing the high roller exclusive use. Casinos compete on bet limits. In Australia limits of A$300,000 are common, in Las Vegas they are between US$150,000 and $300,000, and in Macau they are up to US$500,000. Only casinos with "substantial financial firepower" can accommodate high-stakes gambling due to the volatility of results.High rollers may also be subject to exceptions from various rules and regulations; for example the high roller rooms at Crown Casino in Melbourne, Australia are the only licensed venue in the state not subject to a ban on smoking.High rollers are said to provide only a small fraction of casino business. John Eidsmoe, in his book Legalized Gambling: America's Bad Bet, claims that it is actually gamblers from the lower and lower-middle classes in the United States that provide much of the gambling money. "The occasional wealthy 'high roller' does indeed exist, but he is the exception, not the standard. The fact that more than 50% of Nevada's gambling income comes from slot machines as opposed to the card tables should be an indication high rollers are not the main source of revenue."One example of a high roller is an Australian man who turned over more than A$1.5 billion in a 14-month period from 2005, becoming "one of Crown's largest Australian players but not in the same league as [its] top international players". There have been many cases around the world where high rollers have committed fraud to provide funds for gambling beyond their means, after becoming seduced by the lifestyle. This was the case with famed gambler Terrance Watanabe who reputedly lost over $220M in Las Vegas over a 5-year period, and was ultimately sued by Caesars Entertainment for failing to pay up on markers he took out during the binge totaling $14.75M.

While high rollers may not provide a significant portion of the revenues in the casino industry as a whole, they can have a major effect on the net income of casinos that cater to them. There are significant costs associated with attracting the highest-stakes gamblers, so if a casino takes this chance and the high roller wins, the casino's expenses can be extremely large. Likewise, if the casino's investment pays off and the high roller loses, the casino's gain can far exceed its expenses for the high roller's visit.

Related to high rollers are low rollers. These are people who do not wager large amounts of money, but are nonetheless knowledgeable about gambling and enthusiastically participate in casino programs such as comps and loyalty programs. "Low roller" may also refer to average casino patrons who are not high rollers.

Kim Hye-soo

Kim Hye-soo (Hangul: 김혜수; born September 5, 1970) is a South Korean actress. She is best known for her roles in the films Tazza: The High Rollers (2006), The Thieves (2012), Coin Locker Girl (2015), and Familyhood (2016), as well as the television series Signal (2016).

Kim Yoon-seok

Kim Yoon-seok (born January 21, 1968) is a South Korean actor. Kim's theater background first led him to be cast in minor roles on film and television. His breakout role came as the villain in gambling film Tazza: The High Rollers (2006), but it was his performance as an ex-cop turned pimp in surprise hit The Chaser (2008) that brought him acting awards and stardom in his forties. Kim has since become an acclaimed actor in South Korea, with notable performances in films such as Running Turtle (2009), The Yellow Sea (2010), Punch (2011),The Thieves (2012), Hwayi: A Monster Boy (2013), Sea Fog (2014), The Classified File (2015), The Priests (2015) and 1987: When the Day Comes (2017).

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Power (Ice-T album)

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Two singles were released from the album: "I'm Your Pusher" and "High Rollers". The album was certified platinum by 2006. Music critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic commented that on its release, Power received "strong reviews" and continued to receive positive retrospective reviews from music guides such as AllMusic, The Rolling Stone Album Guide and the Spin Alternative Record Guide.

Very important person

A very important person (VIP) is a person who is accorded special privileges due to their status or importance.Examples include celebrities, heads of state or heads of government, other politicians, major employers, high rollers, high-level corporate officers, wealthy individuals, or any other socially notable person who receives special treatment for any reason. The special treatment usually involves separation from common people, and a higher level of comfort or service.

In some cases, such as with tickets, VIP may be used as a title in a similar way to premium. Usually, VIP tickets can be purchased by anyone, but still meaning separation from other customers, own security checks etc.

The term VVIP or Very Very Important Person is also used, especially with reference to VIPs with very high spending power.The term VIP is often used in games.

Wink Martindale

Winston Conrad "Wink" Martindale (born December 4, 1933) is an American disc jockey, radio personality, game show host, and television producer. In his six-decade career, he is best known for hosting Tic-Tac-Dough from 1978 to 1985, Gambit from 1972 to 1976 (and again from 1980 to 1981), High Rollers from 1987 to 1988, and Debt from 1996 to 1998.

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