Art James
Announcers (1968–1969 Version)
Glenn Rhyle
Fred Collins
Hostess/Announcer (1981–1982 version)
Mary Lou Basaraba
Broadcast (Daily Syndication)
Pay Cards!: 9/9/1968 – 9/5/1969
SuperPayCards logo
Super Pay Cards!: 9/14/1981 – 4/23/1982
Nicholson-Muir Productions
Taft Broadcasting (1968–1969)
Champlain Productions (1981–1982)
Metromedia Producers Corporation

1968-69 SPIEL
"You're aces with everybody when you join us to play television's first card game: Pay Cards! And here's our trump card, the host who pays: Art James!"

1981-82 SPIEL:
"It's the television card game that everyone can play, (it's) Super Pay Cards! And here's your host, Art James!"

On (Super) Pay Cards!, contestants played poker using cards on a game board to make big poker hands and win cash.

Pay Cards! (1968–1969)Edit

The original series aired from September 9, 1968 to September 1969. Three players, one of whom was a celebrity playing for a studio audience member, faced a board of 20 hidden cards and attempted to build a high poker hand.

Five Card DrawEdit

In Rounds 1 and 3, the first player would call out three cards to reveal. If a pair or three of a kind came up, the player had to keep those cards. If not, the player could either keep the cards or turn them back. If the cards were kept, that player called out a fourth card. If the cards were refused, control passed to the next player in turn, who would then turn over three cards. If a player kept a card, that player could then turn over another card and either keep it or refuse it.

After two players had each completed a five-card hand, the remaining player had to complete his/her hand by keeping whichever cards s/he revealed.

At the end of each round, the players were paid as follows:

Payout Hand
$10 Each Pair
$30 Three of a Kind
$50 Full House
$100 Four of a Kind
$150 Five of a Kind

The player with the best hand at the end of each round received a $50 bonus. After the first round, Art asked one player to locate a specific card among the remaining five for $20.

Wild Card RoundEdit

This second round was played similarly to Round 1, but with a few "wild cards" hidden on the board (each with a photo of the celebrity guest). These cards allowed for a player to make Five of a Kind and thereby earn $150.

If time ran short, each player had to complete their hand immediately.

The player with the most money at the end of the game played the jackpot round.

Jackpot GameEdit

The player would attempt to memorize twelve cards and their positions for twelve seconds. The celebrity guest would then spin a wheel, which determined which card the player had to locate on the board. If the player could recall where that particular card was located on the board, he or she would win a bonus prize.

Super Pay Cards! (1981–1982)Edit

Syndicated to the U.S. by Metromedia and to Canada by CTV, the revival aired from September 14, 1981 to April 23, 1982 with Art's co-host being Mary Lou Basaraba. In this version, two contestants (male vs. female) competed, facing a board of 16 playing cards and trying to build their best hand out of them.

Five Card DrawEdit

The players were shown four cards at the start of the round and where they were located. After they were hidden again, the player in control called out three cards and tried to build the best possible five-card hand with them. If a pair or three of a kind was revealed, the player automatically kept it and tried to build on the hand.

After each card was revealed, the player could either keep the card and control, or refuse it and pass control. This continued until one of the players completed their five card hand, with the opponent having to make do with whatever cards they had called.

At the end of each round, players were paid off depending on what they had in their hand:

Payout Hand
$20 Each Pair
$50 Three of a Kind
$100 Full House
$200 Four of a Kind
$300 Five of a Kind

As in the original series, a $50 bonus was awarded to the better hand in the round.

Round 2Edit

Round 2 was played one of four ways.

  • Four-Of-A-Kind – Four sets of four-of-a-kind were on the board. It was possible for both players to receive $200 in this round. No free cards were shown at the start.
  • Seven-Card Stud – Rarely used, Mary Lou gave each player a choice of two sets of two cards to use and see for themselves, and place in front of their podium. The players used their own two cards with the five additional cards they wanted to keep. The two cards were not revealed to their opponent until they keep all five cards.
  • Two-Three-Four-Five – One set of cards had a fifth duplicate in addition to two pairs, a three-of-a-kind set and a four-of-a-kind set. Each player may turn over two cards per turn or one if he or she already had four cards. Finding the five-of-a-kind set is paid off with $350 ($300 for the hand plus $50 for best hand).
  • Strategy – Played with three cards being revealed (but not turned back as in the first round) at the start of the hand. The players would take two turns calling off cards (two each) and would pick two cards from the five cards then showing as to what they wanted in the hand. Each player on their third turn would call off one card and pick one card from the four displayed cards.

Wild Card HandEdit

SPC joker

Round 3, called "Wild Card Hand", was played similar to Round 1, but with one, two or three Jokers shuffled into the cards to make five-of-a-kind possible (once again, with a $300 payoff).

At the end of this round, the player with more money won the game and advanced to the bonus round for a chance at $5,000. The losing player left with a copy of the show's home game in addition to whatever money they had earned.

To reach the maximum game score of $950, the contestant had to get the best hand in each round: $250 in the first round, $350 in the "Two-Three-Four-Five" round and $350 in the "Wild Card Hand" round. In some cases, the winner was determined prior to the final round, if the difference between the contestants' scores was more than the $350 maximum. This happened most often when "Two-Three-Four-Five" was played in the second round.

Bonus RoundEdit

In the first phase of the bonus round, a player was given four cards to memorize and four seconds to do it with. They would then pick a card from Mary Lou and try to find where it was on the board. Doing so won $50.

The second phase involved eight cards and eight seconds of memorization time. Success here increased the player's winnings to $500.

If a player got to the third and final phase, they faced a 12-card board. After having twelve seconds to memorize the cards, they'd make one final choice of card. Correctly recalling its location won the contestant the top prize of $5,000.

If the player made a mistake during one of the first two levels, the player lost the chance to win the $5,000, but could play that stage again. A wrong guess on the third level meant that the contestant lost the $5,000, but kept the $500 for success on the first two levels.

The series had no returning champions, which may or may not have hurt the series in the long run.

Audience GameEdit

Because Super Pay Cards! was taped in Canada, an audience game was required because of Canadian broadcasting rules requiring at least one Canadian personality (or someone with Canadian connections) to appear on camera.

Co-host Mary Lou Basaraba asked a member of the studio audience to study eight cards on the board for eight seconds, then pick one of those eight cards from her hand. They then called a number to see if it matches; if the hand-picked card matches the one called for on the board, that person wins a small prize.

Played just like the end game, the audience game was edited out of the episodes for U.S. syndication.

Home GamesEdit

Whitman Publishing produced a home game edition of the original Pay Cards! in 1969. Gameplay was modified in that all three opening rounds were played in "Five Card Draw" format (although with a little tweaking, the game could be played to the TV rules for either version), and all players participated in the Jackpot Round to try and find the chosen card.

Two versions of the game were released; early versions did not include Wild Cards in any decks, but later versions included one Wild Card each in two of the decks, although the rules in these later versions specifically said they could not be used to make a five-of-a-kind hand. (Again, players could develop "house rules" to allow for such hands and "Wild Card Round" gameplay.)

No American release of a home game was made for Super Pay Cards!, although a home game was promoted and given to the show's losing players, with the credits listing Milton Bradley as provider. (James would show an otherwise blank box with the Super Pay Cards! logo on its lid when promoting it.) It is likely that this version was released only in Canada, although no evidence exists that the game was mass-produced.

Flyer AdsEdit

(1968-69 version)Edit

(1981-82 version)Edit

Taping LocationsEdit

1960s VersionEdit

New York City, NY
Cincinnati, OH

Super VersionEdit

Montreal, QC

Canadian VersionEdit

A short-lived Canadian version of the show (based on the original 1968-69 format) was hosted by Paul Hanover along with Mary Lou Basaraba as hostess/card dealer. It ran on CTV from 1973 until 1975.