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The Ultimate Price is Right Strategy Guide

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LiteBulb88:
With The Price is Right heading toward summer reruns, I thought it'd be fun to start a blog on Price is Right strategy. I plan to put the posts here as well because I want your feedback--do you agree with my strategies? Did I miss something? I can't edit my posts on this website, but I can edit the posts on my blog, and of course any ideas I glean from all of you will be properly credited.

As for the format, what I'll do is post a condensed version of each blog post here as well as a link to my blog. Don't worry--I'll put enough text here that you don't need to go my blog if you don't want to. I'll just skip things like rules and the like that everyone here will already know anyway.

So without further ado, here's the introduction...

(Blog post link: https://stoseontpir.blogspot.com/2019/06/the-ultimate-price-is-right-strategy.html)

Hi! What is this, you ask? It's a project that's been ratting around in brain since my appearance on The Price is Right. I used strategy to win Master Key, so what other games have strategy? As a completionist, there's no way I could do this for just a couple of games. Thus, my goal is to create the most comprehensive Price is Right strategy guide anywhere on the Internet. I will include stats and tips about every single game in the current rotation (as of June 2019, there are 77 pricing games). Granted, for some games it will be "there is no strategy, just know the price." But you may be surprised about some of the strategies for some of the games. For example, did you know there's a strategy in Magic # that has guaranteed a win in every single playing of that game since season 43 without knowing anything about the actual prices? Or that contestants play Cover Up so horribly that even though they usually know the first two digits of the car's price, they barely win more than they would if they just picked everything completely randomly? Stay tuned!

My plan is to post one of these every day, six days a week. (Sunday will be a day of rest.) I'll start with three posts for things that happen on every show: items up for bids, the showcase showdowns (a.k.a the wheel), and the showcases. Then I'll go through all 77 games in alphabetical order, for a total of 80 posts after this one. My goal is to be done before season 48 starts in September, though they haven't announced the start date of the new season yet, so we'll see how it goes.

Resources: I would be remiss if I didn't post three key resources I'll be using to come up with my strategies:

http://www.golden-road.net
THE best site for TPiR information on the internet, bar none. They have very active forums there and people there have come up with many of the patterns I'll be sharing throughout my posts. They also have incredible information about the show's past, insider photos, and so on. I highly recommend it. (My username there is LiteBulb88 should you wish to see my posts.)

http://www.tpirstats.com
This is a fan of the show who has posted TPiR stats since season 29. Most of the raw data I use to calculate my stats comes from this site.

MATLAB
I'm using MATLAB to do lots of number crunching on the data from the TPiR stats web page. Full disclosure: I worked at the company that makes MATLAB for over 13 years, and I still consult for them. I am a big believer in their products! I don't plan to post the actual code so as not to overwhelm the posts, but I'm happy to share the scripts if anyone asks.

Why am I not using season 47 data very much? While most of season 47 has aired, there are a couple of preempted episodes and a July 4 episode yet to air. According to the Price is Right calendar, the last first-run season 47 episode doesn't air until July 17. Thus, to avoid using data from an incomplete season that could go out of date after I post, I'll mostly be using data through season 46 only.

Some general strategies:

Trip rule: The farther a trip is from Los Angeles, the more expensive the price. So if you have to decide which trip is more expensive, New York or Salt Lake City, simply remember the trip rule and you'll choose NYC and be right every time.

The rule of pairs: If you have two of an identical prize (such as two identical motorcycles, two identical surfboards, etc.), then the total price is almost certainly going to end in an even number. The reason is that 2 times any integer is guaranteed to be even! The only reason it might be odd is if the original price is something like $2999.45. The show adds and then rounds to the nearest dollar, not the other way around, so in this case, the total price would be $5999, not $5998, as $2999.45 + $2999.45 = $5998.90, which gets rounded to $5999. But that kind of price is rather rare, so if you have a choice of an even or odd number for the price of 2 of an item and you're not sure, go for the even price.

Paint and fabric protection car option rule: If you're playing for a car, listen to the options that George describes. If you hear paint and fabric protection as one of the options, the price will NOT end in a 0 or 5. If you don't hear paint and fabric protection, there's a chance the price will end in a 0 or 5, though it's not guaranteed.

Pick the end points: If you ever see an arrangement of items, pick the one on the far left or far right! (Yup, that was my Master Key strategy.) Most people find it more comfortable to pick the items in the middle and the producers know this. I'll talk about how this applies in specific games as I go along.

And finally...

Get inside your own head: The producers are inside your head before you ever make it on to the stage. They know you're more likely to pick numbers 2-5 in Pass the Buck, choose 5's in Lucky $even, or feel the pressure of everyone staring at you while you're pushing the lever in Magic # and thus stop too soon because you feel it just can't be right to take a long time to set the value.  If you want to maximize your chances of winning, you need to figure out what you'd be afraid to do while playing a game and go counter to that fear. Magic # is an excellent example--people are afraid of taking too long to push the lever. As a result, the game is never lost by putting the price too high; it's always lost by putting the price too low. (In fact, out of the 67 losses in that game from seasons 32-46, ONE of those losses was by setting the number too high.) If you know this in advance, you'll recognize that fear when you get on stage, be willing to set that price high, and have a much better chance of winning. And the time to figure that out is before you ever go to the show; once you're on that stage, things move so fast you probably won't have time to unpack everything you're thinking.

Good luck out there! And if you do use these strategies to win something on the show, drop me a line--I'd love to hear about it!

Flerbert419:
I look forward to where this might go and if you generate any new insights, but I do want to point out there has already been extensive work on the topic.

Here is a thread with a list published by Slate in 2013 containing strategies for every game, and here is a link to some probability work that was done a number of years ago by the forum.

pannoni1:
There are two more that I would add to the general strategy section. The first is the repeating digits rule, and this implies that except for the first two numbers of a price, all other adjacent numbers in the price of a prize, usually a car, will rarely have back-to-back digits be the same number. This is especially useful in games like One Away, Cover Up, Golden Road, Pathfinder, Money Game (using the middle number as a reference), and Lucky Seven.

Another general strategy tip is the "Never all the same". In games where the correct choice is either Higher/Lower, True/False, etc, there will almost never be a game set up where the answer choices are the same (unless there are only two like Secret X or Master Key). Hence, the "Falsitis" that plagues 5 Price Tags, and once again, the contestants' "fears" that usually leads the producer from choosing 3 Falses and 1 True.

Of course, feel free to provide reviews of Hot Seat, Vend-o-Price, Gridlock, and the revamped Time Is Money since those were introduced after the Slate article.

Tech_Triumph:

--- Quote from: Flerbert419 on June 24, 2019, 07:56:53 AM ---I look forward to where this might go and if you generate any new insights, but I do want to point out there has already been extensive work on the topic.

Here is a thread with a list published by Slate in 2013 containing strategies for every game

--- End quote ---

OK complete new guy to the forum so I'm looking forward to reading some of these previous posts, but some of Slate's strategies need some updating (looking at the Bonkers advice for one).

This could be another neat thread to see how much has changed from that article.

LiteBulb88:

--- Quote from: pannoni1 on June 24, 2019, 09:27:08 AM ---There are two more that I would add to the general strategy section. The first is the repeating digits rule, and this implies that except for the first two numbers of a price, all other adjacent numbers in the price of a prize, usually a car, will rarely have back-to-back digits be the same number. This is especially useful in games like One Away, Cover Up, Golden Road, Pathfinder, Money Game (using the middle number as a reference), and Lucky Seven.

Another general strategy tip is the "Never all the same". In games where the correct choice is either Higher/Lower, True/False, etc, there will almost never be a game set up where the answer choices are the same (unless there are only two like Secret X or Master Key). Hence, the "Falsitis" that plagues 5 Price Tags, and once again, the contestants' "fears" that usually leads the producer from choosing 3 Falses and 1 True.
--- End quote ---

Thanks! Those are both excellent points that I've updated my blog with.


--- Quote from: Flerbert419 on June 24, 2019, 07:56:53 AM ---I look forward to where this might go and if you generate any new insights, but I do want to point out there has already been extensive work on the topic.

Here is a thread with a list published by Slate in 2013 containing strategies for every game, and here is a link to some probability work that was done a number of years ago by the forum.

--- End quote ---

Thanks! I appreciate the links. I hope the way I'm approaching this will differentiate what I'm doing from what they've done (in particular, I'm going to go into a lot more detail than the Slate "cheat sheet" and I've run code to calculate probabilities that weren't covered in the thread here), but I'll let the readers be the judge :).

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