Author Topic: The Ultimate Price is Right Strategy Guide  (Read 4123 times)

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Offline AvsFan

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Re: The Ultimate Price is Right Strategy Guide
« Reply #60 on: July 09, 2019, 07:34:54 PM »
In re Cliffhangers:

I wondered what the optimal strategy for Cliffhangers would be if, like the playing during Big Money Week for cash, the goal was to miss as few steps as possible. So, I crunched some numbers. This data comes from Cliff Hangers playings in seasons 40-46 in which all 3 SP prices were revealed.

Average price for SP #1: $21.09
Median price for SP #1: $20

Average price for SP #2: $32.05
Median price for SP #2: $32

Average price for SP #3: $43.24
Median price for SP #3: $43

Using these averages and guessing $21-$32-$43 for seasons 40-46 would result in the mountain climber taking fewer steps per game (10.96 steps taken vs. 11.23 steps), but that combination of guesses would have resulted in 5 losses wherein $20-$30-$40 would not have lost. Therefore, $21-$32-$43 isn’t really more effective for normal gameplay.

Going further, I calculated the average difference in price between SP #2 and SP #1, and SP #3 and SP #2.

Average difference, SP #2 and SP #1: $10.89
Average difference, SP #3 and SP #2: $11.19

So, how would contestants fare if they guessed $21 (the average) for SP1 and then added $11 to the price of the previous prize for their next guess? This method would not only result in wins in all of the setups from seasons 40-46, the average number of steps taken is only 9.34. So, the best way that I can find for a Big Money Week-esque playing of Cliffhangers is to bid $21 on the first small prize, then add $11 to the price of the previous SP and make that your next guess for the next two SPs.

(Loving the work that you've done in this thread, LiteBulb - just chipping in some of what I've found. :))

Online tpir04

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Re: The Ultimate Price is Right Strategy Guide
« Reply #61 on: July 09, 2019, 08:27:55 PM »
What comprehensive results! Thank you very much, Avs!

Just noticed this was your first post. Welcome to G-R! With posts like this, I hope you stick around a while!  :biggrin:
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Offline AvsFan

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Re: The Ultimate Price is Right Strategy Guide
« Reply #62 on: July 09, 2019, 09:40:02 PM »
Thanks, tpir04. I look forward to reading about more info here. :)

Online LiteBulb88

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Re: The Ultimate Price is Right Strategy Guide
« Reply #63 on: July 10, 2019, 03:17:52 AM »
(I've got some great comments to respond to. I'll get to those later today. Keep them coming!)

Clock Game

(Blog post: https://stoseontpir.blogspot.com/2019/07/the-ultimate-price-is-right-strategy_10.html)

Random fact
One of the people who made golden-road.net what it is, John Sly, got his start by playing this game. He played it so well that Bob told everyone watching, "If you want to prepare yourself to play the Clock Game on The Price is Right, play it exactly as this young man played it. It cannot be played better than that." The show he was on is here (jump to the 2:30 mark to see his Clock Game playing):
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNFVa8yhl2Q" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNFVa8yhl2Q</a>

Win-loss record (seasons 29-46): 167-94 (63.98%)

Strategy
All prizes in this game are between $500 and $999 (inclusive)--they tried 4 digit prizes a couple of different times in this game's history but the results were fairly disastrous. So follow exactly what John did in the video above:
  • Start at a price evenly divisble by $100. I like starting at $800, but if you want to start at $500, $600, $700, or $900, there's no problem with that.
  • Zero in on the hundreds digit, keeping the tens and ones digits as 0. Go up or down $100 at a time and no more.
  • Zero in on the tens digit, keeping the ones digit as 0. Start at X50 (where X is the hundreds digit from above), and then move up or down $10 at a time, and no more.
  • Zero in on the ones digit.
Let me illustrate with an example. Let's say the price is $674.

You: 800
Drew: Lower
You: 700
Drew: Lower
You: 600
Drew: Higher
* You now know the price is 600 something. Go for the 10s digit, starting at the $50 mark:
You: 650
Drew: Higher
You: 660
Drew: Higher
You: 670
Drew: Higher
You: 680
Drew: Lower
* You now know the price is $670 something. On to the ones digit...
You: 671, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 (The show has always accepted just the last digit once you've zeroed in to a $10 range. Don't wait for Drew to say "higher" or "lower" after each digit--spit out "1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9" as fast as you can!)

This can easily be done in 15 seconds or less as long as you keep things moving.

As a suggestion, practice this while you're waiting to get into the studio! You have three hours between the time you arrive and the time you actually enter the Bob Barker studio, and most of that is down time. So find someone else in line, ask them to come up with a three digit number between 500 and 999, and you have to find it within 15 seconds using the strategy above. Switch roles afterward.

Special note: do NOT use binary search! If you don't know what binary search even is, then don't worry about this. But I bring this up because I've seen multiple places on-line suggest binary search as a strategy in Clock Game. For the uninitiated, binary search simply means that when you're looking for an element in a range, cut the range in half every time. Let's demonstrate with that same $674 example:

Bid 1: You know the prize is between $500 and $1000, so you bid the average, $750.
Drew: Lower.
Bid 2: You know the prize is between $500 and $750, so you bid the average, $625.
Drew: Higher.
Bid 3: You know the prize is between $625 and $750, so you bid the average, $688.
Drew: Lower.
Bid 4: You know the prize is between $625 and $688, so you bid the average, $657.
Drew: Higher.
Bid 5: You know the prize is between $657 and $688, so you bid the average, $673.
Drew: Higher.
Bid 6: You know the prize is between $673 and $688, so you bid the average, $681.
Drew: Lower.
Bid 7: You know the prize is between $673 and $681, so you bid the average, $677.
Drew: Lower.
Bid 8: You know the prize is between $673 and $677, so you bid the average, $675.
Drew: Lower.
Bid 9: The prize is now obviously $674, so you bid that and win.

Sounds good, right? It's a provable fact that binary search is the way, on average, to find a number in a range in the fewest number of guesses. So what's the problem? You're a human, not a computer. And for a human, fewer guesses doesn't mean a faster result. For a computer, it does, so if you're programming a computer to play Clock Game, go ahead and use binary search. But the typical human is not going to be able to calculate those averages very fast. (Quick! What's the average of $657 and $688? Could you do even just that one in 15 seconds or less?) Thus the "hone in on each individual digit" method that John Sly used is so much better, and anyone who tells you to use binary search in this game either thinks you have the math capabilities of a computer or is wrong.

Online tpir04

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Re: The Ultimate Price is Right Strategy Guide
« Reply #64 on: July 10, 2019, 08:57:54 AM »
I don't have stats in front of me, but it is (or at least used to be) a common practice to bid $x99 for the first few guesses, since there have been a number of times that the price was, in fact, $x99. Is this still a valid strategy?
First CSS exacta: 6/3/2019

Season 15 cash earnings: $151,769
A lot of you are probably wishing I hadn't started CSS.
................................
Ever heard that 2+2=5? I have a simple solution: 2+2=5-1.

Problem solved.

Offline SuperSweeper

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Re: The Ultimate Price is Right Strategy Guide
« Reply #65 on: July 10, 2019, 09:15:35 AM »
I don't have stats in front of me, but it is (or at least used to be) a common practice to bid $x99 for the first few guesses, since there have been a number of times that the price was, in fact, $x99. Is this still a valid strategy?

Probably not. In the last three seasons, we’ve seen contestants bid on 53 prizes. Of those 53, TWO ended in -99.

Online LiteBulb88

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Re: The Ultimate Price is Right Strategy Guide
« Reply #66 on: July 10, 2019, 11:00:10 AM »
Time to answer some questions...

Litebulb88, thank you so much for putting in all of this work for such an expansive blog. This is no easy feat.

I dont know how in depth you stats go, but do most of the losses in Check Out come from being consistently over or under (~40 cents) on each item, or from being completely off on a single item (specifically the last one)?

Thanks! It wouldn't surprise me if you were right about Check Out being consistently lost on the last item, but I haven't looked at that data. It's now on my to do list :).

I remember a few years ago they did Big Money Week and played Cliffhangers for $250,000. You won $10K for each step remaining at the end. A young lady walked away with $210,000 by guessing $22, $35, $49 on items worth $25, $35, and $50, respectively. If you followed the 20-30-40 rule, you would've only gotten $50K. So, case in point: what's better, 20-30-40 or 20-30-50?

You switched the actual prices and the bids, but your point is spot in. There was also a playing of Cliff Hangers during season 42's Big Money week where the prizes were $34, $40, and $50. 20-30-40 would have lost that completely. So it seems when they play Cliff Hangers for $10,000 per unclimbed step, they use more expensive prizes. However, it looks like they've only played Cliff Hangers that way twice; the other times during Big Money Week, the prize was just a flat $20,000 and 20-30-40 applied in those cases. Thus I'm hesitant to say you should bid any specific numbers in the case where you could win $250,000; there isn't enough data to support that. But I have added a note at the end of my Cliff Hangers page to watch out for that setup.

(Lots of awesome, awesome data)

Thanks!! That was really good stuff. I've added it to my blog along with the aforementioned Big Money Week note. The updated post is here:

https://stoseontpir.blogspot.com/2019/07/the-ultimate-price-is-right-strategy_9.html

And welcome to golden-road.net!

I don't have stats in front of me, but it is (or at least used to be) a common practice to bid $x99 for the first few guesses, since there have been a number of times that the price was, in fact, $x99. Is this still a valid strategy?

As noted, only 2 prizes have ended in -99 in recent seasons. But even if half of them ended in -99, I'd still be reticent to suggest the -99 strategy. The problem is that for most people, it's much easier to carry around numbers like "800" in their head rather than "799." (Basically, the more 0's, the better.) So if a prize doesn't end up ending in 99, the "search for each digit technique" can become more confusing. The only exception I'd grant is a situation like the MDS where finishing in 10 seconds or less won $1,000,000; in that case, go fishing for the prices with the -99 technique. But in normal game play, you don't gain anything by finishing faster. And the average nervous contestant risks getting confused if the -99 technique doesn't result in an exact hit.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2019, 11:02:38 AM by LiteBulb88 »

Online LiteBulb88

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Re: The Ultimate Price is Right Strategy Guide
« Reply #67 on: July 11, 2019, 06:36:26 AM »
Coming or Going

(Blog post: https://stoseontpir.blogspot.com/2019/07/the-ultimate-price-is-right-strategy_63.html)

Random fact
When this game first debuted, it didn't have a price tag to reveal the price; instead, Bob or Drew simply asked if the contestant was right and the platform would flash if they were.

Win-loss record
  • Actual (seasons 32-46): 223-149 (59.95%)
  • What it would be by random chance: 1/2 (50%)

Based on the initial digit on the platform, what was correct? (seasons 40-46)
Digit  Coming  Going
  4       4       2
  5      20      21
  6       9      26
  7      16      33
  8      20      11
  9      18      10


Strategy
Know the price. If you're completely clueless about the price, you can use the above table to suggest that if you see a 6 or 7 when the prop is first shown, then select "going" while you should set an 8 or 9 as "coming." But that's not really enough playings to recommend that as a pattern. And they're very careful with the 5s--not only was it basically 50/50 as for whether the correct answer was coming or going when 5 was the initial digit, but overall, there were 34 prizes that ended in 5 and 29 that started with 5 from seasons 40-46. So this is a "know your prices" game.

Offline GameShowFan9001

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Re: The Ultimate Price is Right Strategy Guide
« Reply #68 on: July 11, 2019, 06:54:46 AM »
Strategy
Know the price. If you're completely clueless about the price, you can use the above table to suggest that if you see a 6 or 7 when the prop is first shown, then select "going" while you should set an 8 or 9 as "coming." But that's not really enough playings to recommend that as a pattern. And they're very careful with the 5s--not only was it basically 50/50 as for whether the correct answer was coming or going when 5 was the initial digit, but overall, there were 34 prizes that ended in 5 and 29 that started with 5 from seasons 40-46. So this is a "know your prices" game.

If I remember correctly, there also is/was a thing where coming/going was generally, but not always, determined by whether the prize was a trip or a different prize.  Someone please correct me if this is backwards, but I think it was trip = going, non-trip = coming.

Online 123123123

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Re: The Ultimate Price is Right Strategy Guide
« Reply #69 on: July 11, 2019, 09:32:49 AM »
^I do remember a few seasons back (possibly S44 or 45) that they started to make it that everytime a trip was offered, going was the correct choice. However, I don't know if a non-trip prize necessarily made coming the correct answer
« Last Edit: July 11, 2019, 09:41:09 AM by 123123123 »

Offline Kev347

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Re: The Ultimate Price is Right Strategy Guide
« Reply #70 on: July 11, 2019, 09:59:47 AM »
I just looked this up, and for every playing since December 11, 2015, "the rule" has held true: "coming" is correct on a non-trip, "going" is correct on a trip. 12/11/15 was the last time "going" was correct on a non-trip. 4/6/15 was the last time "coming" was correct on a trip. There are then a few other violations of the rule in Season 43, so it seems that Season 44 was when they started following this rule in earnest, except for the December 2015 playing.

Online LiteBulb88

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Re: The Ultimate Price is Right Strategy Guide
« Reply #71 on: July 11, 2019, 03:13:35 PM »
Thanks! I had no idea about that pattern. So the simple rule is "You're going on a trip or you're coming home to a prize." I've added that to my blog!

Offline Ton80

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Re: The Ultimate Price is Right Strategy Guide
« Reply #72 on: July 11, 2019, 03:35:41 PM »
Quote from: LiteBulb88, in his awesome BLOG
Addendum: there is a foolproof pattern!

I'm not sure I would call it "foolproof".  As the game's history has shown, there have been cases of COMING for a trip and GOING for a prize.  It's certainly fair to point out the statistics and suggest a likelihood of winning. 

"Foolproof" implies a certainty, and we all know nothing is certain.

By the way, the work you're doing to compile all this data and statistics is fantastic!  Thank you!
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Online LiteBulb88

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Re: The Ultimate Price is Right Strategy Guide
« Reply #73 on: July 11, 2019, 03:45:41 PM »
I'm not sure I would call it "foolproof".  As the game's history has shown, there have been cases of COMING for a trip and GOING for a prize.  It's certainly fair to point out the statistics and suggest a likelihood of winning. 

"Foolproof" implies a certainty, and we all know nothing is certain.

That's absolutely fair. I've changed "foolproof" to "very common."

By the way, the work you're doing to compile all this data and statistics is fantastic!  Thank you!

Thanks!!

Online LiteBulb88

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Re: The Ultimate Price is Right Strategy Guide
« Reply #74 on: July 12, 2019, 03:30:33 AM »
Cover Up

(Blog post: https://stoseontpir.blogspot.com/2019/07/the-ultimate-price-is-right-strategy_12.html)

Random fact
When Drew started as host, he constantly talked about how the initial numbers shown were pointless and might as well be blank. The show got him back for that:
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9IvzHNNb6E" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9IvzHNNb6E</a>

Win-loss record
  • Actual (seasons 29-46): 145-292 (33.18%)
  • What it would be by random chance: 77/240 (32.08%)

<voice from offstage> Hang on a second. That can't be right! Most contestants know at least the first digit, if not the second digit, of the car's price. How are they barely doing better than random chance?

I'll tell you soon. Can we get back to this now? Fine, though my mind will be too occupied thinking about this to pay attention to anything you say before you answer.

Thank you, and too bad.

Correct digit by location (seasons 41-46)
                             3.01%
                     24.06% 22.56%
              21.05% 19.55% 23.31%
       40.60% 27.82% 17.29% 15.79%
41.35% 28.57% 27.07% 18.05% 20.30%
58.65% 30.83% 24.06% 21.05% 15.04%
C      O      V      E      R

Unwritten rule: The number at the top of the last column is almost never correct because if the contestant is shorter than about 6 feet tall, they can't easily reach it. The producers have broken that rule on rare occasions, but not since season 43. And no, this isn't why contestants are doing just barely better than random chance.

Strategy
Hey! Offstage voice! I'm ready to tell you why people are so bad at this game. Are you paying attention now? Yes? Good. There's a strategy to this game that loyal viewers call the Cover Up strategy, and it's simply this: get the first or second number WRONG on purpose on your first guess. Why? Because you can then get it right on your second turn and guarantee at least a third turn. But if you get the first two numbers right on the first turn, it makes your second turn that much harder. I've also heard strategies like "get the first two numbers wrong on purpose" so that you can get the first number right on the second turn and the third number right on the third turn. It turns out that doesn't work as well as the get the first number right on the first turn, second number right on the second turn strategy. Here are some numbers to show this point...

                          Chance of winning   Chance of winning
Strategy                 w/o unwritten rule   w/ unwritten rule
Complete randomness            32.08%              38.50%

Get the first two digits       21.67%              26.00%
right on the first turn

Get the first digit right                     
on turn 1 and the second       40.83%              49.00%
digit right on turn 2

Get the first digit right     
on turn 2 and the second       34.17%              41.00%
digit right on turn 3


(The above table assumes digits 3-5 are always chosen randomly. The last column assumes the top number of the last column is incorrect and is never chosen by the contestant.)

As you can see, getting the first two digits right on the first turn is the worst thing you can do, and that's why the win percent of this game is so low. So don't be afraid to intentionally get the second number wrong on the first turn, as it almost doubles your chances of winning. In fact, if you don't follow that strategy, be afraid for my TV when I throw something at it in frustration of yet another contestant playing this game seriously sub-optimally. Instead, make me and my fellow TPiR geeks proud--get that second number wrong on purpose on the first try!

As for digits 3-5:
  • Don't forget the repeated digits rule--other than the first two digits, no two consecutive digits will be the same.
  • For whatever reason, they like making the 4th digit a 1 a little more frequently than you would expect by random chance. It's not hugely over, but if you see a 1 as an option for the 4th digit, it's worth a try.
  • Cars in this game rarely end in 0 or 5. Since season 43, there's never been more than 3 playings of this game in a season where the car ended in a 0 or a 5.