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Catch 21

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Alfonso Ribeiro
Mikki Padilla
GSN: 7/24/2008-7/1/2011
Merrill Heatter Productions
Scott Sternberg Productions

A blackjack game on GSN similar to Gambit; the title itself is a pun on the best-selling novel Catch-22.

Main GameEdit

Three contestants compete in a game of blackjack with questions (à la Gambit). The object of the game was to make a blackjack hand total 21 (hence catching 21), or come closer to 21 than the other contestants without going over. Anything over 21 is a bust and eliminates the contestant from the round.

Rounds 1 & 2Edit

Each round starts with dealer Mikki Padilla dealing three cards to the contestants (one for each contestant). Then host Alfonso started reading toss-up, multiple choice, general knowledge questions (In season one only, multiple choice answers are shown on the screen). The first contestant to buzz-in got a chance to answer. A correct answer won 100 points, but an incorrect answer gave the opponents a chance to answer; if another miss occurred, the question was thrown out (unless there were two or three choices left; when that happened, the last contestant got a chance to answer).

The player with a correct guess also won the right to see another card dealt by Mikki. When the card was revealed, the player in control had a choice to make. The contestant could either keep the card and add its value to his/her hand or pass it to one of his/her opponents in an attempt to bust that player. When a player exceeds 12, likes his/her hand total and is in control, the contestant can "freeze" (the player also had that option after getting the question right). Ties are not allowed: once a player was frozen on that number, the number was his/hers. If there's only one contestant left playing, no more questions were asked; only cards were dealt.

The winner of the round is the one who caught/drew to 21, is the last player standing after the others have busted, or is the only player still playing and has exceeded the frozen score. The winner will also receive an additional 500 points and one Power Chip to be used in the bonus round. Starting in season 2, if any player caught the first 21 of the day's show, he/she also won a bonus prize. On celebrity shows, if any celebrity player caught the first 21 of the day's show, he/she also won $500 for his/her charity and a bonus power chip.

The two players with the highest scores moved on to round three, and the third-place player was eliminated from the game. If there was a tie for second place, the two contestants played a high card tiebreaker. Each contestant decided to either see the first or second card in the deck to be shown; highest card wins. An ace is always high.

Round 3Edit

The third round was played the same as before, except that points were no longer awarded for correct answers or winning the round. The player with the best hand won the game, $1,000, one more "Power Chip", and the right to play for $25,000. Starting in season two, another "Power Chip" was earned for winning the game.

Bonus RoundEdit

In the bonus round, the winning contestant faced a board with three columns. Each column was given one card to start. Then dealer Mikki dealt more cards one by one. On each card, the winning contestant must place that card on a hand. Along the way, if the contestant saw a card that he/she doesn't like, he/she can turn in a Power Chip to throw that card out. Whenever a Power Chip was used, another card had to be played. In season one, the contestant could earn up to three Power Chips, and starting in season two, the contestant could earn up to four Power Chips (five in case of celebrities). The idea was to catch a 21 exactly. Doing so in a single hand was worth $1,000. Doing it twice was worth $5,000. Catching a 21 in all three hands paid the contestant the top prize of $25,000. If at any time the winning player busts on any hand, the bonus game money was lost, but the $1,000 (nor the prize if it was won) from the main game was not at risk. To prevent this from happening, after each safe card, the winning player received the option to stop the game and keep whatever he/she won in the round in addition to the main game cash; the contestant only earned the right to stop when a Power Chip was not used recently.

During the week of June 1, 2009, the grand prize was upped to $50,000. One contestant managed to win it.


Round 1Edit

"We play with a standard deck of cards. The object of the game is to make as close to 21 as you can without going over. Catch 21 exactly, and you're an instant winner." (Season 1 only)

"Now, the object of the game is to make a 21 without going over. Catch 21 exactly, and you're an instant winner/you'll win instantly." (Seasons 2-4)

"We'll start you off with one card each. Mikki, deal the cards."

(Mikki dealing the cards for each player)

"Now, players, to earn more cards, you need to be the first to ring in and [correctly] answer a multiple choice question. Any time you get a card, you can keep it [to make your hand better], or force it on one of your opponents to make their hands worse [or to bust them out]. [Once a hand that you like, and you're the one in control, you can freeze.] You'll get 100 points for each correct answer, and 500 points for winning the round."

"And if you're the first player of the day to get/catch a 21 exactly, you will win this..." (Seasons 2-4)

"Round 2 is coming up, but if you at home love watching Catch 21 on TV, you'll love to play online for free [exclusively] at [ and] Stick around, we'll deal more Catch 21 right after this."

Round 2Edit

"Let's recap the scores. (Insert score recap)"

"Now keep in mind, when this round is over, we're gonna have to say good-bye to the player with the lowest score/the player with the lowest score will be eliminated."

"The prize for catching/getting a 21 exactly is still in play." (Seasons 2-4, in case the prize hasn't been won yet)

"When we come back, (insert two high scored contestants) will go head-to-head/face-to-face for a chance/shot at/to win $25,000. We'll be right back after this."

Round 3Edit

"Now, (insert two remaining players), you've made it this far, but only one of you gets to move on to our final round and a chance to play for $25,000/$50,000."

"The prize for catching/getting a 21 exactly is still in play. This is your last chance." (Seasons 2-4, whenever someone doesn't catch 21 in the 1st 2 rounds)

"There are no points in this round. It's all about knowledge and the luck of the cards."

"The winner wins $1,000 and moves on to our Final Round." (Season 1 only)

"The winner wins $1,000, plus those all-important Power Chips. They can be a lifesaver in our Final Round. You'll get a Power Chip for each round you've won, plus one more for winning the game." (Seasons 2-4)

"Now, control of the cards is more important than ever."

"Now, being quick and correct is more important than ever."

"When we come back, (insert winning contestant) is gonna try to win $25,000/$50,000. Don't go anywhere."

Bonus RoundEdit

"Welcome back to Catch 21. I'm here with (insert player who won the game) who just won $1,000 and is about to play for $25,000/$50,000."

"Until now you had to play with/only played with one hand, but now you're gonna play with three. We've got a new deck that's been shuffled and cut, so we'll start things off by dealing you one card for each hand. Mikki, deal the cards."

(Mikki dealing the cards for each hand)

"Now, the object is to Catch 21 exactly, do that in one hand, and you'll win $1,000. Catch 21 twice, and the money jumps/climbs to $5,000. But if you manage to Catch 21 in all three hands, you will win... $25,000!" (Season 1-2 only)

"Catch 21 once and you'll win $1,000. Catch 21 twice, and the money jumps/climbs to $5,000. But if you manage to Catch 21 in all three hands, you will win... $25,000!" (Season 3-4 only)

"But be careful, because if you should bust in any one of the three hands, you will lose everything except the $1,000 you won earlier. So if you want to stop/quit, just say so."

"Here are your Power Chips. They can keep you alive in our game. Each Power Chip/one allows you to change the card if you don't like it. You've won a Power Chip for each round you've won, plus one more for winning the game." (Season 1-2 only)

"Here are your Power Chips. They allow to change a card if you don't like it." (Season 3-4 only)

"You've won 1/2/all 3 round[s], so you get 1/2/3 power chips plus one more for winning the game; 2/3/4 power chips. Use them wisely. (Season 2-3 only)

"You've won 2/3/4 power chips. 1/2/3 for [all] the rounds you've won plus one for winning the game. Use them wisely." (Season 4 only)


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Super Sonic Noise


Merrill Heatter


"We’ll be back next time with new players trying to play their cards right. She’s Mikki Padilla. I’m Alfonso Ribero. Thank you for watching. See ya!" – Alfonso Ribeiro (2008-2011)

YouTube VideosEdit

Contestants who have won $25,000 or $50,000.

A risky $25,000 win
The second & last contestant from season two to win
Jackie Zeman wins $25,000 for her charity
The $50,000 win of season 2

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