|Peter Tomarken (1983-1986, 2002 Pilot #1)|
Todd Newton (2002 Pilot #2, 2002-2003)
Graham Elwood (4/1/2003)
Ricki Lake (Gameshow Marathon, 2006)
|Rod Roddy (1983-1986)|
Gary Kroeger (2002-2003)
Rich Fields (Gameshow Marathon, 2006)
|John Harlan (1984)|
Charlie O'Donnell (1986)
Game Show Network (Daily, Whammy!): 4/15/2002 - 12/5/2003
Gameshow Marathon): 6/8/2006
|Carruthers Company Productions (1983-1986)|
Fremantlemedia North America (2002-2003, 2006)
|Rerun Distributor (1987)|
|Republic Pictures Television|
Press Your Luck (and its reboot Whammy!: The All-New Press Your Luck) is one of the most popular cult-classic game shows of all time. People answer questions to earn spins on the Big Board for a chance to win "Big Bucks"! However, there are evil Whammies lurking about. Each time one is hit, they will take away all of your accumulated winnings up to that point. The show itself is a remake of the short-lived 1977 ABC Daytime game show called Second Chance.
Gameplay (Press Your Luck)Edit
In the question rounds, Peter asked four questions one at at time. On each question the first player to buzz in had a chance to answer. The answer he/she gave became the first of three answers for his/her two opponents to choose from. A correct buzz-in answer was worth three spins while a correct multiple choice answer was worth one spin. In the event a contestant who buzzed in first ran out of time, that contestant had to sit out the rest of the question while the other two players played the multiple choice part of the question. In the event that no contestant buzzed in when time ran out, all three contestants played the multiple choice part of the question. 20 spins were available in each question round, but the highest one contestant can earn was 12 spins (which was achieved on rare occasions). In the pilot, Peter asked five questions for a maximum total of 25 spins, with the maximum that one contestant can earn being 15 spins.
The Big BoardEdit
When the question round was over, the contestant island turned around for the contestants to see the big Press Your Luck game board. The fonts used were Franklin Gothic Medium Cond for the cash, while Times New Roman Bold was used for "+ One Spin" and prizes.
The board consisted of 18 squares with the show's logo in the center. On the board were thousands of dollars in cash & prizes and Whammies. The contents of every square rotated every second, as there were 3 slides in each square.
In the first round the player with the fewest spins went first. The player with the most money at the end of round one played last in round two.
There are alternatives when the Big Board rounds occur:
- If there's a tie for the fewest spins, the player on the left goes first.
- If there's a tie for the most spins or money (in Round 2), the player on the right plays last.
- If all players end up with the same amount of money in the first round, the question round decides. The player who wins the most spins in the second question round gets to play last in Round 2.
- If there's a tie for the least money in Round 2, the player with the fewest spins plays first; if there's a tie for spins and money, the player on the left plays first.
The player in control of the board played as many of his/her spins as he/she liked. On each spin, lights around the game board's spaces flash around the board, and the contestant stopped the board by hitting his/her button and by yelling "STOP!" When the board stopped, if the contestant hit a dollar value it was added to his/her score; if he/she hit a prize, it was credited to that player and its value was added to his/her score and that prize would be replaced with a new prize. If at any time the contestant hit a Whammy, he/she lost all his/her money up to that point, and hitting four Whammies took that contestant out of the game. Upon hitting a Whammy, a short cartoon was presented in which the Whammy would mock the contestant and take away his/her money in many ways possible; sometimes the cartoon would show the Whammy being crushed, flattened, hurt or otherwise humiliated in different ways. Sometimes, the Whammy was accompanied by his girlfriend Tammy (or his dog Fang). On some animations, the whammy would imitate several famous people that were popular at that time, including Liberace (he would play a piano until the chandelier above the whammy's head falls on him), Michael Jackson (dressed as the late pop star, glove and all, he would dance his famous Moonwalk to Jackson's hit "Billie Jean"), Boy George, lead singer of the band Culture Club (dressed in the singer's unusual attire, he would sing "Who Would Ever Hurt a Whammy?", a parody of the band's hit "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?", until a hammer suddenly appears and flattens him). After the cartoon, a Whammy card (accompanied by a "boing" sound) would pop up in front of the contestant.
If a player Whammies out, his/her scoreboard is turned off and the remaining spins are discarded.
In the first round, if a player has hit two Whammies, Peter always reminded that player, "You want to be careful about picking up a third Whammy in Round 1."
In addition to the cash & prizes, some of the cash squares on the board were paired up with extra spins ($???/$?,??? + ONE SPIN). Each time any of those kind of squares was hit, the player's spin total was frozen and the money attached to that spin square was added to his/her money total.
At some point during a contestant's turn, if that contestant fears that he/she is about to run into the Whammy on the next spin and/or is tired of pressing his/her luck, that contestant would pass his/her spins to the player in the lead or if he/she is in the lead had to pass them to the second place player. And should both players have the same score, the passing player would decide who to pass the spins to. The player with the passed spins must take all the spins until he/she hit a Whammy (at which point the remaining passed spins would be transferred from the passed column to the earned column) or has run out of those spins, and each time the passed contestant hit money plus a spin, the spin just played was transferred to the earned column.
During the final spin of the game, a player must do any of the following in order to win the game:
- Avoid hitting a Whammy if he/she is in first place.
- If the player is in second place, he/she can pass the last spin to first place and hopes they hit a Whammy.
- If the player presses, they will have to land on a specific square that will give them enough money to win the game or any cash amount with a spin to stay alive, depending on the difference between the two scores.
- If the player presses and they trail first place by $5,000 or more, the only option is to stop on a square that gives them an additional spin to stay in the game (this helps if the spin was passed to 2nd place).
In addition to the cash (with & without a spin), prizes, and Whammies, there were other squares on the board that affected gameplay.
- Big Bucks: The most important square on the board always seen in square #12, which if hit, transferred that player to the highest amount on the board (always in square #4).
- In the video game for the Wii, unfortunately, this guarantees a trip in Round 1 only. (Nevertheless) This inspired the catchphrase, "Big Bucks, No Whammies."
- Directional Spaces: Where the light around the square containing it would be moved to another square.
- Go Back/Advance Two Spaces: Where the light moved two squares away from it/them.
- Move One Space: The contestant had a choice between the two squares touching it. It's located on the top corner to the left in Round 1 and on the middle side to the right and toward the bottom left in Round 2.
- Pick A Corner: Premiered on Episode 115 John/Terre/Mac (February 28, 1984), it always appeared in square #6 in round two. It worked like Move One Space except (true to its name) that the contestant had a choice between the contents of one of the three corners of the board. In 1984 until mid-1985, a Whammy can be one of the choices since it was in the top left hand corner square (#1) but was never chosen. The Whammy was later moved to square #18 swapping with $1400 (which was appropriate since it started out in square 1 to begin with).
- In Episode 165 Veronica/Catherine/Bob (May 8, 1984), the color of Pick A Corner changed to dark green with white font, and fades as seasons of the show pass by.
- Across the Board: Premiered in Episode 628 Zena/Robert/Ellen (February 24, 1986), that space sent the light directly across from that square (to square #8).
- Double Your $$: Introduced on Episode 139 Geralyn/Julio/Carla (March 8, 1984), awards a cash prize equal to the player's current score, effectively doubling their money.
- This was changed to "Double Your $$ + One Spin" on April 12. In both cases, the space can only be seen in round two and awarded once per game. Once collected, it is replaced by a regular prize. So in effect, this was a prize space.
- Add A One: Premiered on Episode 508 Nomi/Steve/Janis (September 5, 1985).So called because if it was hit, a one was added next to the dollar sign in that player's total (ex: $0 - $10, $2,000 - $12,000). If a player has more than $10,000 before the space was hit, $10,000 was added to the contestant's total instead. This premiered in the fall of 1985 and was only shown in round one. Like Double Your $$ (+ ONE SPIN), it acted as a prize space, for once it was hit, it was replaced with a regular prize.
- $2,000 Or Lose One Whammy: First appeared on Episode 528 Kirk/Dee Dee/Teresa (September 17, 1984). It was a possibly important square added to the board. So called because whenever it was hit, the contestant had a choice to either add $2,000 to his/her money total or drop one of his/her Whammies. The latter choice was completely important, a godsend for contestants when they were in danger of whammying out of the game. Upon losing a Whammy, the appropriate Whammy card dropped back down into the contestant's desk. If the contestant did not have any Whammies when this was hit or if the player hits it on the final spin of the game, the $2,000 must be taken. The space was hit only once during the "Home Player Spin" contest and the in-studio contestant chose the $2,000 which went to the home player as well. It is not known what would have occurred if the player elected to lose a Whammy. The last Home Player Spin month didn't have this space.
Winning the GameEdit
The player with the most money at the end of Round 2 won the game and kept all cash & prizes won. When a contestant won the game, all 18 squares on the game board flashed on and off in unison. If the game ended in a tie, the players who were tied won the game and kept their winnings. A player would also win the game if two contestants "Whammied out", and if the last player standing has not taken his/her spins, that player would play "against the house" by taking as many of his/her spins as he/she liked and stopped whenever he/she wanted, unless he/she also "Whammied out", in which case there would be 3 new players on the next show. More often than not, that player would choose to stop before exhausting all his/her spins. Championship players stayed on the show until they were defeated or exceeded the CBS winnings limit of $25,000 (all winnings over $25,000 were kept). In later shows starting in November 1984, champs retired after appearing five days or exceeding the new winnings limit of $50,000 (whichever came first).
Home Player SpinEdit
On three months during the series (20 shows on the first two months & 25 on the third), home viewers got a chance to get in on the fun by playing along with the in-studio contestants. In the weeks prior to the home player month, viewers sent in postcards to the show in hopes to win big bucks or prizes for themselves.
On the months the home player shows took place, during round two, all three contestants playing that day drew postcards from the home viewers who sent them in. One of the spins in that round will become the home player spin, the numbered spin was shown to the home viewers only. When that spin occurred, the player playing that spin read the name of the card he/she drew and whoever it was, that contestant would be spinning for that viewer. Whatever the contestant in control hit on the board was what the home player won; if the contestant hit a Whammy, that player will lose all his/her money as usual (and also be eliminated from the game upon hitting his/her 4th Whammy), but the home viewer still received $500 courtesy of the Whammy and cash amounts plus one spin awarded the home player money only. At the end of the show, the two contestants read off the names of the home players who didn't get to play the lucky spin that day and, as a consolation prize, those home viewers received Whammy T-shirts.
Only once, somebody hit $5,000 + One Spin on a home player spin. It was won by Mrs. Jessie Greene of East Cleveland, Ohio, and that was on the last home player month.
Giant Home Player Sweepstakes SpinEdit
At the end of the very last home viewer show on the very last home viewer month, a "Giant Home Viewer Sweepstakes Spin" was held. On that spin, the board was filled with nothing but hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash (none of which offered additional spins; however, some directional spaces & Big Bucks remained in play). Before the spin, the cards drawn from that day's show were mixed in with the other cards drawn from all the other shows inside a fishbowl. The winner of that day's game drew a postcard from the bowl and gave it to Peter, who then revealed the name drawn. Then the "Giant Home Viewer Sweepstakes Spin" occurred and whatever the day's champion landed on will be multiplied by the number of spins earned in that day's round two question round. Since $5,000 was still the highest amount, the largest anybody can win was $100,000. On this "Giant Home Viewer Sweepstakes Spin", the day's winner was Jon Isean (sp?) with $10,304, out of a possible 20 the number of spins earned in round two was 18 spins, and the lucky home viewer (which was one of the home viewers mentioned on that day's show) was Ed Kolzak of Portage, IN, who won (courtesy of Jon hitting $2,000) $36,000 plus the Whammy T-shirt since he wasn't the player who got the lucky spin that day. Plus, this was the only time that balloons & streamers dropped from the ceiling in an event like this.
Press Your Luck held two week-long tournaments during its run. The first tournament was held in the spring of 1985 and it consisted of five self-contained games played by fifteen college students. A second tournament was held in the late summer of 1985 with similar rules, though the contestants were high school students.
- Michael Larson is the highest winner on the show. After watching the show so many times, he noticed that the lights bounced in a predictable pattern. This strategy allowed him to amass $110,237 over the course of two episodes. Producers & other staff members noticed what he was doing, so sometime after his episode (split into two) was taped, extra patterns were added to prevent this from happening again. At first, CBS believed that Larson was cheating, and refused to pay him his earnings on the show, but relented after they discovered that he wasn't cheating. Larson eventually squandered the money on bad investments and a telephone scam. His final TV apearance was a 1994 interview on Good Morning America which was covering the release of the movie Quiz Show and game show scandals. He died of throat cancer on Febuary 16, 1999.
- Other than the "Sylvester" episode, there were only a few episodes that encountered errors and technical difficulties causing a certain contestant to return on a future episode. However, those returning players will be playing as new players even though some had already won money the last time they appeared, and will not count along their previous winnings (Maggie Brown was one of them).
- All 'returning players' on the show may have been cheated when stopping the board on either the last spin or the second or so on to last spin as they end up hitting a Whammy, making it complicated to win the game.
- The bell from The Price Is Right sounded every time spins were added to contestants' totals. The clanging bells and whooping horns (also from The Price Is Right) were used amongst a multitude of sounds for the Home Player Spin.
- On two shows, three contestants were tied at zero causing all of them to return to play the next day. On the show's 200th episode, the same situation would have happened had a contestant (Vicky) hit a Whammy on her final spin. However, Vicky would win the game with $12,500.
- Sylvester the Cat (voiced by the late Mel Blanc) called Peter on one show to inform him that "Sufferin' Succotash!" is his catchphrase (as well as explaining the origins for the phrase) and that Daffy Duck often steals his lines for more popularity. Sylvester also mentions that the rest of the Looney Tunes characters and their human co-workers are watching the show, and that even his wife Estelle (really the name of Mel Blanc's wife) knows that "Sufferin' Succotash!" is Sylvester's catchphrase. This all came about because the three contestants playing that day (supposedly) missed a question about that, and Sylvester called the show to clear that up; Sylvester even allowed Porky Pig (also voiced by Blanc) to come to the phone and say goodbye with his usual stuttering manner. Speedy Gonzales and a few other characters said hello and goodbye as well. As a result, Peter promised to call Warner Brothers' office the next time they will have a Looney Tunes-related question, and all three contestants (Pam, Sam, and Jerry) came back on future shows. Unfortunately, no Looney Tunes characters were contestants themselves and that when all those three contestants appeared on their future shows, none of them won. In the Gameshow Marathon episode, Bugs Bunny is revealed to be the greatest cartoon character of all time.
- Whammy poems sometimes appeared as Peter cut to a commercial. The poem would appear on the screen, as would the name of the home viewer, along with his/her hometown (and if the home viewer was a child, his/her age was included, too). More often than not, the poems would appear after the first Big Board round ended. It would gradually fade from the screen as the camera zoomed in on the Press Your Luck logo. Peter would also read poems at the end of the episode; however, he sometimes let a contestant read one. Peter would then close the show and say, "Thanks for pressing your luck. Bye-bye."
- Press Your Luck was the 2nd game show (and 3rd pilot) where Peter Tomarken and Rod Roddy appeared together. "Hit Man" was the first.
- There have been at least three contestants who earned no spins for a single round. Those occurred on February 28, 1984, in May 1985 (clarification needed) and in October 1985. Interestingly enough, all three of those contestants' names started with "D."
- The bell sound when spins are added for each player was commonplace on many CBS game shows during the 1970s and the 1980s.
The game was played exactly the same as the original Press Your Luck but with an altered format.
Differences to this show and the originalEdit
There were other differences to this version and the original, too.
- The Big Board - While the board still had 18 squares, they were arranged differently inside a giant oval. The original board had slides, but this board had the slides replaced with monitors. (There was an extra monitor in the center in the pilot, but it was replaced by a picture of the Whammy.) For it was run by a 200 MHz computer, it carried digitized graphics and made the board super random so that no one would ever memorize the board patterns again. Plus, light bulbs were replaced by neon lights: the safe squares were lit up in blue, while the Whammy squares were lit up in red. In the final round, instead of changing altogether, a few squares changed in groups.
- The Whammies - The Whammy had a whole new look, for he had toes, a deeper voice, a hairy face, no cape, and a "W" on his chest replacing a "$" (dollar sign). The new Whammy was animated in 3-D by WIT Animation. The Whammy indicators in the pilot were in circled lights, but in the series they appeared as statuettes. Even with the changes he still can take away the contestant's money when hit, and if a contestant hits four Whammies, he/she is still knocked out of the game.
- Contestant Scoreboards - The contestant scoreboards were now monitors (replacing green eggcrate displays). When hitting a Whammy, the contestant's current score would either fade away or fall down. In season two upon hitting a fourth Whammy, the contestant's scoreboard displayed the Whammy.
- Big Bank - In season 2, all money & prizes stolen by the Whammy were placed into his own Big Bank which started off every day at $3,000, and got as high as $50,984. To win the Big Bank, a contestant must hit the Big Bank square on the board, and answer one special open-ended question correctly. This is all classified as "Whammying the Whammy".
In the first round all three players were given $1,000 to start ($0 in the first two taped shows). Each player in turn spun the board. As before, contestants stopped the board by hitting their buzzer and yelling "STOP!" Whatever they landed on, it was added to their score. After each go round (all three players or less have taken their turns), more Whammies were added to the board increasing the danger of losing the money. If at any time a contestant hit a Whammy, that contestant was out of the round; to prevent this from happening, before each spin players were given the option to freeze on their current scores. All the squares' font, small and big, were in Impact.
Also in this round, there was a square marked "Pick A Prize" which when hit would give the player in control a choice of any prize currently showing on the board.
In the pilot each contestant earned three spins to start with, and could pass them or play them, much like in the final round.
There was also a square that would give a player half a chance to win a car or another big prize. In the pilot, the car was a Chevrolet Camaro from GM; to get a chance at the Camaro, a play must hit the letter "G" in round 1, then the letter "M" in round 3. In the first season, the car was a GEM Car; to get a chance at the GEM, a play must hit the GEM (or Spin Again) square in round 1, then the CAR or Spin Again square in round 3. And in season 2 the car was a Suzuki Aerio SX; to get a chance at that car, a player must hit both halves of the car key (the top half in round 1, and the bottom half in round 3). On a special Halloween episode in the first season, a trip to Transylvania was offered; to get a chance at the trip, a play must hit the Trick or Spin Again square in round 1, then the Treat or Spin Again square in round 3.
On the April Fool's show, there was another space called a "Newton" which had a picture of Todd making a weird face and an "uh-oh!" sound when hit. Upon hitting it, the player is told they won something really great and unusual like a million dollars, and a private jet. After a few seconds, "April Fools!" was heard reminding them it was a joke and the player got to spin again.
The player with the most money at the end of the round earned the advantage of playing last in the final round.
Round 2 (Question Round)Edit
The Question Round was exactly the same as the original except that host Newton asked five questions instead of four (just like in the Press Your Luck pilot).
On each question the first player to buzz-in had a chance to answer. The answer he/she gave became the first of three choices for his/her two opponents to answer from. A correct buzz-in answer was worth three spins while a correct multiple choice answer was worth one spin. In the event a contestant who buzzed in first ran out of time, that contestant had to sit out the rest of the question while the other two players played the multiple choice part of the question. But in the event that no contestant buzzed in when time ran out, all three contestants played the multiple choice part of the question. 25 spins were available in each question round, but the highest one contestant can earn was 15 spins.
In the pilot, host Tomarken/Newton asked four questions instead of five (just like the original series) meaning that 20 spins were up for grabs with the maximum total for a single player being 12 spins. Also the player to earn the 12 spins by answering all four buzz-in parts also earned a Whammy Guard protecting him/her from hitting another Whammy.
The Larsen rematch (see photo below) was played like the original series, with just 4 questions instead of 5.
Note: If all three players ended the first round in a tie, the player with the most number of spins went last in the final round.
Round 3 (Final Round)Edit
In the final round, the players used their spins earned in the question round to play the board. The player to start was the player with the least money or the player with the fewest spins (in case of a tie); in the event of a tie for spins, money & correct buzz-in answers, the player at far left went first. Players can take as many of their spins as they wished, but if they feared that they were going to hit the dreaded Whammy, they can pass their spins to the player out in front or the player in second if they're out in front. As before, players with passed spins had to take those spins until they ran out of them or hit a Whammy (at which point the remaining passed spins became earned spins), and each time the passed contestant hit money plus a spin, the spin just played was transferred to the earned column.
As Todd would put it, as if the Whammies were not enough, the big board also featured a new element to the show, the "Double Whammies". When a Double Whammy was hit, not only would that player lose all his/her money to the Whammy but stuff would drop on the player's head according to the Whammy cartoon presented. On Whammy cartoons involving water, that player would be sprayed with water from the player's podium. At one time, there was one cartoon which caused a live Whammy to come out and dump confetti on the player's head. (This same Whammy appeared in promos for the show, as well as in that same episode when a contestant won with $0 [allowing her to come back in a future show] while her two opponents whammied out. He also made appearances on three episodes of the second season of Whammy! and Russian Roulette.)
Also in this round one square would give players a choice of taking the money or spin again without having to use one of their earned spins. In the first season it was $1,000, but in the second season it was reduced to $555 making it easier to take another spin.
Should any player be halfway to winning the car, the square needed to make the chance at the car complete was also placed on the board.
The player with the most money at the end of this round won the game and kept all of his/her winnings. There were no returning champions in this version but with this one exception: players who won the game with $0 get to come back and play a future game.
2002 Pilot ScreencapsEdit
Gameplay (Gameshow Marathon)Edit
Played exactly the same as the CBS run, but with much higher money values, a computerized version of the original Big Board and a different host. (Unfortunately, Peter Tomarken died in a plane crash by that point; the episode was dedicated in his memory.) Rich Fields took over for Rod Roddy as announcer. The highest amount on the board was now $10,000 + One Spin, while the highest prize (not won) was a Chevy HHR worth $16,890.
Pilot - KPM Music
Long Main - "Flash (a)" by Keith Mansfield
Short Main - "Flash (b)" by Keith Mansfield
1983 - Robert Israel & Lee Ringuette
2002 - Alan Ett & Scott Liggett
2006 - Score Productions
Game created by Jan McCormack
Show developed by Bill Carruthers
CBS Television City, Hollywood, California (PYL)
Tribune Studios, Hollywood, California (Whammy!)
Second Chance - The predecessor to Press Your Luck that aired on ABC in 1977.
Whammy! The All New Press Your Luck - a 21st century version of Press Your Luck that aired on GSN from 2002 to 2003.
Big Bucks: The Press Your Luck Scandal - a two-hour Michael Larson documentary special that aired on GSN in 2003.
Gameshow Marathon - Press Your Luck was the fourth show of this series, the closest ever to a revival of the original version in 2006.
This is a list of countries that had their own version of PYL:
Germany (Gluck Am Drucker/Druck Dein Gluck)
Philippines (Whammy! Push Your Luck)
Taiwan (The Slugger Attack)
Turkey (Sansini Dene)
Main Article: Press Your Luck/Merchandise
To see pictures of the show's logos over the years, click here.
To see pictures of the many sets over the years, click here.
To see pictures of the spaces from Press Your Luck, click here.
To see pictures of the spaces from Whammy!, click here.
To see videos of clips & full episodes of both shows, click here.
Print Ads (Whammy!)Edit
Press Your Luck/Logos
Press Your Luck/Merchandise
Press Your Luck/Notable Contestants
Press Your Luck/Quotes & Catchphrases
Press Your Luck/Sets
Press Your Luck/Spaces
Press Your Luck/Prize Rotations
Press Your Luck/Episode Guide
- ↑ The Only $5,000 win on a Home Player Spin
- ↑ The Giant Home Viewer Sweepstakes Spin
- ↑ The Sylvester Phone Call
Press Your Luck Homepage
Press Your Luck Madness
Rules for Press Your Luck @ Game Show Temple
Xanfan's Old Press Your Luck Page
Xanfan's New Press Your Luck Page
Xanfan's Whammy Page
Download the Whammy! Game Control
Josh Rebich's Press Your Luck Rule Sheet
Josh Rebich's Whammy! Rule Sheet
Rules for Press Your Luck and Whammy! at Loogslair.net
Blog about the original PYL
Flash game of Whammy!
Official Pearson website for Press Your Luck via Internet Archive