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This is the episode guide on the syndicated version of Card Sharks aired during the 1986-87 season.

About the ShowEdit

The syndicated version of Card Sharks was hosted by Bill Rafferty from September 1986 until May 1987 (though several weeks of previously unaired episodes without the prize cards and car game were aired in June 1987). Rich Fields, who would become the announcer for The Price is Right in 2004, was considered for hosting this syndicated series, but the producers decided to give the job to Rafferty instead. The syndicated series was created in the wake of the success of the daytime version on CBS, which was hosted by Bob Eubanks. Rafferty would also host a remake of the game show Blockbusters simultaneously when this version of Card Sharks was in its final months on the air. Card Sharks was created by Chester Feldman, who also created the popular game show Family Feud.

Like Family Feud, Card Sharks involved the use of survey questions. A contestant was asked to predict how many people in a group of 100 people who share a specific role or occupation (i.e. bachelors, married women, firefighters, etc.), and the opponent must predict if the answer is higher or lower. Whoever gets the question right wins control of the cards. When adults are playing, questions involve adult-oriented topics (though not explicit), such as sex, marriage, work, family, politics, to name a few. During the Young People's Weeks throughout the series, questions are modified to more family-friendly questions.

The player who wins control of the cards has earned the right to change or play the card. Once the card is changed, the player is required to predict if the next card is higher or lower. If that player makes a mistake, the opponent gets a free play of the cards, but is required to play the base card (he or she cannot change it). If a player gets a card that doesn't appeal (usually between a five and a ten), the player would normally freeze and protect his or her position. If the contestant goes through all five cards (three in the tiebreaker) in the round, he or she wins the round and $100. If both players finish round two winning one round apiece, a tiebreaker game is played. The tiebreaker game had three cards dealt instead of five, and a maximum of three questions. This later changed to two questions, and towards the end of the run, to one question where the player who wins is shown both base cards before deciding what to do.

Prize CardsEdit

From September 29th until the series finale, each player's deck would contain six prize cards in play for the match. Each deck would always contain a trip, and at least some cash. Early in the series, a prize card for $5,000 in cash was revealed. As the series dragged on, and ratings fell, resulting in a shrinking prize budget, the prizes may have gotten cheaper, and the only cash card in each player's deck was $500, and some trips had become cheaper. In any case, each time a player uncovered a prize card, that prize was put on the board for that player and the prize card was discarded and replaced with the next card off the top of the deck.

With this feature, players who won a game no longer won $100, even if they had not uncovered any prize cards during the match itself; and only the winner of the match won their prizes. This could have meant that some contestants could have won the match with zero dollars if they have not uncovered any prize cards, and that some players could leave with parting gifts despite winning matches.

When adults are playing, there is one trip in each player's deck plus other prizes that are useful for adults, but during Young People's Week, since a trip to Hawaii is offered after the Money Cards, prizes designed for young people are used, and the trip card is replaced by a merchandise prize usually in a comparable price range, such as a piano.

Money CardsEdit

The champion is given $200 to start the Money Cards. The player's base card is revealed, and he or she must bet some or all of his or her money higher or lower than the current card. The champion can change one card per line only. Upon moving up to the second level, the player is given an additional $400 of betting money. Minimum bets are $50, except on the Big Bet row, where the champion must bet no less than half of his or her money. Prior to the Big Bet row, bets were usually in multiples of $50, although there was no such rule mentioned on air, but it might have been mentioned to the contestant before the taping.

Car GameEdit

Beginning on September 29th, a new add-on bonus game was launched, where the champion could win a new car (or a trip to Hawaii during Young People's Weeks). This version of the car game would debut on the Bob Eubanks version several weeks later.  Luxury cars (i.e. Pontiac Firebird, Cadillac Eldorado, etc.) were offered during the first few months of this series (and winning one automatically retired the player), but as the series dragged on, the cars became cheaper as ratings were falling, resulting in a shrinking prize budget, but the cars' values were still likely greater than average cars offered on the Bob Eubanks version (the final week of the Rafferty series had a Jeep offered as the feature car; plus an average car offered on Bob Eubanks version was in the price range of $6,000-$7,999). 

At the start of the Money Cards, the champion was given one joker free of charge (two free jokers during the Young People's Weeks). Early in the run, Bill Rafferty said that four jokers were placed in the deck at the start fo the Money Cards. Each time a joker is revealed, it gives the champion an extra chance at the bonus prize. After the Money Cards, the contestant takes any jokers he or she has, and is shown seven numbered cards, where one of them says "CAR" (or "HAWAII") and the other says "NO" in a circle. Revealing the "CAR" card wins the car (or "HAWAII" wins the trip to Hawaii). The winning card with the word "HAWAII" was used during Young People's Weeks only.

During the final episode, all four Jokers were removed from the deck, and were given to the final champion at the start of the Money Cards for winning the match. During the final playing of the car game, the champion placed all four Jokers on the cards he picked, and Bill Rafferty revealed three "NO" cards, and finally, the "CAR" card, resulting in a big win to close the series.


  • The series ran for 195 episodes.
  • Only three known Young People's Weeks aired during the series.
  • A total of $#,###,### were given away in cash and prizes.
  • Prize cards were revealed a total of ### times throughout the series.
  • Ironically, on the episode that the prize cards debuted, no prize cards were revealed.

List of known Prize Cards in the seriesEdit


  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Bahamas
  • Hawaii
  • Heidelberg, Germany
  • Hong Kong
  • Las Vegas
  • London, England
  • Mexico City
  • Puerto Vallarta
  • St. Thomas
  • Tahiti


  • Baby Grand Piano
  • Barbeque
  • Bedroom Set
  • Boat
  • Camcorder
  • Computer
  • Electronic Guitar
  • Exercise Bike
  • Exercise Equipment
  • Lowery Organ
  • Microwave Range
  • Microwave
  • Motorcycle
  • Oak Day Bed
  • Piano
  • Silver Service
  • Silver
  • Sofa & Love Seat
  • Stereo
  • Victorian Dolls
  • Washer & Dryer

Cash CardsEdit

  • $250
  • $500 (most common)
  • $1,000
  • $5,000

Broadcast HistoryEdit

The series was launched in September 1986, but as the series dragged on, many affiliates either dropped the show after December 1986, or moved it to a late night slot (usually between 2:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.) when viewers were most likely in bed. It is believed that the reason for the series being unsuccessful in the original run is likely due to competition against the highly successful game shows Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!. The Bob Eubanks version of Card Sharks on CBS suffered lesser impact when the finale of Rafferty's run was aired in May 1987.

GSN started airing the Rafferty series sometime in the mid-1990s, prior to the day the network lost the rights to the Goodson-Todman library (except for The Price is Right and the 1994-95 season of Family Feud). Rafferty's run returned to GSN on April 4, 2005 and aired on weekdays until around July 2006, at which point it was deported to weekends only, two airings each on Saturday and Sunday, until later in August 2006 when it was temporarily dropped in favor of the documentary series Anything To Win. The series returned on November 4, 2006, airing once each on Saturdays and Sundays, continuing from where the series left off, and airing on weekends non-stop until the show was dropped in January 2009 after three full cycles of the series, replaced by Jim Perry's version on January 31, 2009. Nonetheless, it is believed that the Rafferty series performed better in the ratings when aired in reruns on GSN than in the original syndicated broadcasts.

Beginning in October 2017, Buzzr started airing the first five weeks of the Rafferty run. Before being added to Buzzr's lineup, it was aired as "bonus programming", along with Louie Anderson's Family Feud, on a Buzzr-related digital subchannel.

Episode GuidesEdit