High Rollers 78
NBC Daytime, April 24, 1978-June 20, 1980
Run time
30 Minutes
Alex Trebek
Kenny Williams
NBC Studio 3, Burbank, California

This is chronicling the 1978 version of High Rollers. This version was also known as (The New) High Rollers.

Game FormatEdit


Two contestants competed. The object was to remove the numbers 1 through 9 from a game board by rolling an oversized pair of dice. High Rollers was modeled on a traditional board game called Shut the Box.

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" or "No". A contestant who buzzed in with the correct answer, or whose opponent answered incorrectly, earned the chance to either roll the dice, or pass and force the opponent to roll. The controlling contestant usually chose to roll only early in a game. All numbers were good on the first roll of the game. Passing to the opponent became more common as the game progressed, with fewer good rolls left on the board. A contestant who made a bad roll (one which could not be made with the remaining numbers) lost the game. However, if the odds of making a bad roll were low, such as if the only bad roll were 3 or 11, the contestant who won control of the dice often chose to take the gamble and roll.

Contestants removed numbers from the board based on the value of the roll of the dice, either the number by itself or in combinations that totaled the value rolled. 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 numbers within the combination had already been removed.

Play continued until a contestant either removed the last remaining digits from the board and won, or (more commonly) made a bad roll and lost. If the only remaining digit on the board was the number 1, a final toss-up question was asked and the contestant who answered the question correctly won the round (since it is impossible to make a roll totaling 1 with two dice). The winner of the game kept whatever prizes were in his or her bank, or won a house minimum of $100. A contestant who won two out of three games won the match.


When the series was revived in 1978 (and originally titled The New High Rollers), the digits were randomly arranged in three columns of three digits apiece, with each column containing a prize. Contestants only banked prizes when the last digit from each column was eliminated, regardless of who eliminated other digits in that column. If a contestant banked prizes but did not win the game, the banked prizes were returned to the board and a new prize was added to each of the three columns, up to a maximum of five prizes in any one column. The prizes on this version ranged from the usual game show gifts (e.g., furniture, appliances, trips, etc.) to offbeat, unusual prizes, such as a collection of musical dolls, African masks and fully catered banquets.

One (or sometimes two) of the columns were called "hot columns", meaning that all three digits could be taken off by a single roll of the dice at the beginning of the game, thus claiming the prize(s) in that column. Contestants who rolled doubles in the main game earned an "insurance marker" which could be turned in for a second chance if a contestant made a bad roll. However, if the doubles roll itself was a bad roll, the contestant received no marker but rolled again. Contestants on this version rolled the dice themselves rather than being rolled by the hostess.

The Big NumbersEdit

In the bonus game, called the "Big Numbers", the champion rolled the dice and attempted to remove the numbers 1–9 from the board, with a large prize awarded for clearing the board. A bigger gameboard was used, except on the 1978–80 series, which used the same board as the main game. Insurance markers were awarded for doubles, giving the contestant the opportunity to roll again after a bad roll; this was the only time insurance markers were used during the 1974–76 version.

Contestants were awarded $100 for each number removed from the board. In the earliest episodes, contestants could stop and take this money after a good roll. A bad roll with no insurance markers, or eliminating all numbers except for the 1, ended the game and the contestant lost the bonus money accumulated. The contestant won a car for removing eight numbers, and $10,000 for all nine. The rules soon changed so that the car bonus was removed, but a contestant who continued to roll did not risk the accumulated money.

The 1978–80 version offered a prize of $5,000 for eliminating all nine numbers. For a certain period the contestant also received a car in addition to $5,000 for winning. The Martindale version offered a prize of $10,000, and used a pair of "golden dice" for this segment of the game.

The Big Numbers bonus round was also used on Las Vegas Gambit in 1981. The gameplay was unchanged (though the "Big Numbers" name was not used), and even incorporated the same dice table and sound effects from the 1978–80 High Rollers. Las Vegas Gambit, which like High Rollers was produced by Heatter-Quigley, was also coincidentally hosted by Wink Martindale.

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 player finally retired undefeated, which led to more cars being awarded in some of the mini-games played during the main game.

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International VersionsEdit



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Episode StatusEdit


High Rollers - Daphne vs

High Rollers - Daphne vs. Gene (5 19 1978)

See AlsoEdit

High Rollers
Lucky Numbers
High Rollers (1987)