Mark Goodson Wiki
Card Sharks 1985 Pilot.png
Pilots, May 6, 1985
CBS Daytime, January 6, 1986 – March 31, 1989
Syndicated, September 8, 1986 – May 8, 1987
Number of episodes
826 (CBS Daytime)
195 (Syndication)
Run time
30 Minutes
Bob Eubanks (Pilots: 1985, CBS: 1986-1989)
Bill Rafferty (Syndication: 1986-1987)
Laurie Dureau (1985 pilot only)
Lacey Pemberton & Suzanna Williams (1985 pilot & series)
Gene Wood
Bob Hilton (also in the 1985 pilot)
Charlie O'Donnell
Johnny Gilbert
Studio 33, CBS Television City, Los Angeles, California

This is chronicling the 1986-1989 version of Card Sharks.

Game Format[]

Main game[]

Two contestants competed against each other on all versions of Card Sharks. Each contestant was assigned a row of five oversized playing cards. Each contestant had a standard 52-card deck; the ace ranked highest and the deuce (two) ranked lowest. The champion played the red cards on top, while the challenger played the blue cards on the bottom. In case of two new players, a coin toss was used to determine who played red and who played blue.

Toss-up questions[]

Control of the board was determined by asking a survey question similar to the surveys done on Family Feud. Questions were posed to 100 people of the same occupation, marital status, or demographic (ex: “We asked 100 teachers, ‘Has a student ever given you an apple?’ How many said yes?”). The contestant who received the question (with the red-card player, usually the champion, going first) then gave a guess as to how many people gave the answer that the host gave (and usually his/her reasoning, although this is not required). After hearing the guess, the opponent had to choose whether the correct number was higher or lower than that guess. Choosing correctly gave control of the board to the opponent; otherwise, the initial contestant gained control. The initial contestant would also gain control of the board if he/she correctly guessed the survey answer.

An exact guess won a $500 bonus for the contestant; the contestant keeps it regardless of the game's outcome. Up to four (three in game two in the early part of the Rafferty version) toss-up questions were played per game.

In addition to the regular 100-person survey questions, some questions on the Eubanks/Rafferty versions used one of the following formats as opposed to the straight 100-person survey.

  • 10 Studio Audience Members: Beginning on July 7, 1986 questions were asked about a panel of 10 audience members sharing a common profession or characteristic (mothers-to-be, nurses, students) who taped an entire week of shows (originally, five different poll groups were used per week). An exact guess by the contestant won $100, and the panel members each received $10.
  • Educated Guess: Introduced on October 6, 1986, and the only time non-survey questions were ever used on the program. Each question was general knowledge with a numerical answer ("In miles per hour, how fast is the fastest snake?", "How old is Bill Rafferty?"). Originally answers only ranged from 0-99 (the range of the readouts on the contestant podium). This changed in 1987 to questions with various ranges. To accommodate the change, values would be superimposed with on-screen graphics or written on cards by the contestants. An exact guess on this kind of questions also won a $500 bonus.

Playing the Cards[]

Beneath each contestant's row of cards was a moving bracket bearing the contestant's name which would mark one of the cards as the "base card". Each contestant's base card was the first card in the row of five. The winner of the question could choose to either play and keeping his/her base card, or have it replaced with another card from the top of the deck. The contestant then guessed whether the next (face-down) card in the row was "higher" or "lower"; if correct, he or she could continue to guess the next card after that and so on (if both cards were the same, the guess counted as incorrect).

On an incorrect guess, the contestant loses his/her progress and returns to the base card with the other revealed cards being discarded and replaced by new face-down cards before the next question in the round. In this event, the opponent received a free chance to play his/her own row of cards but could not change the base card. Contestants could also choose to "freeze", thus making the last revealed card the new base card and preventing the opponent from receiving a free chance.

If neither contestant guessed all the cards on his or her row correctly, another toss-up question was asked and the same procedures were followed until someone revealed all the cards in the row or the fourth question in the round was asked. In the final months of the NBC run, a $500 bonus was awarded for guessing correctly on all four cards in a single turn without freezing.

$100 was awarded for each game won, with two games winning the match and the right to play the Money Cards bonus game.

During most of the Rafferty version no money was awarded for winning a game or the match. Instead, several "prize cards" were shuffled into the deck consisting of trips (up to $6,000), furniture, appliances, and cash ($250, $500, $1,000, and $5,000; every amount except $500 was later removed). If one of those turned up during a player's turn, the name of the prize was placed on that player's side of the board adjacent to his/her row of cards and another card would be dealt which he/she had to call. Only the contestant who won the match claimed the prizes found.

Sudden death[]

The fourth question (third in the tiebreaker round) in each round was a "sudden death" question in which someone would win the game on the next turn of the cards. Whoever won control of the board had the opportunity to play the cards (and could change the base card if desired) or pass them to the opponent (who could not change the base card and had to successfully clear the remainder of the row). An incorrect guess at any point caused the opponent to win by default.


If the match was tied after two games, a tiebreaker game was played to determine the winner. Contestants played rows of three cards, not five: and three questions were asked, not four (two during one point in the '80s syndicated version), with the third being sudden death.

Beginning on January 4, 1988, the tiebreaker was changed to one sudden-death question; this also determined the winner of the match on the finale of the Rafferty version, as well as the final match of that version's Young People's Week. In the one-question tiebreaker game, both base cards were revealed so the player could make an easier decision as to play his/her cards and change the base card or pass to the opponent, who was not able to change the base card.

Money Cards[]

The winner of the main game played the Money Cards bonus game for a chance to win additional money. The Money Cards board consisted of seven cards on three rows; three cards were dealt on the bottom two rows, and one card was dealt on the top row. On the NBC version, the winner's first base card to begin the bonus game was dealt from the deck after the seven cards were placed. On the CBS version, however, the first four cards were dealt on the bottom row, with the first card as the base card, followed by three on the middle row, and one on the top row (so in reality, this version dealt 8 cards out at the start instead of 7—11 if the three reserve change cards are included).

In addition to guessing whether a card was higher or lower, the contestant had to wager money on that prediction. The contestant was given $200 to bet with and had to wager at least $50 (and in multiples of $50) on each card on the first two rows. The contestant won money for each correct guess and lost money on each incorrect guess.

After completing the first row, or if the contestant "busted" (lost everything on that wager), the last card was moved onto the second row and the contestant was given an additional $200 (raised to $400 in 1986). The contestant had to play three more cards before reaching the last card on the top row, known as the "Big Bet". If a contestant busted prior to reaching the Big Bet, the game ended. Upon reaching the Big Bet, the contestant was required to wager at least half of their earnings; there was an occasional "25" or "75" at the end if a contestant had, at minimum, $50 or $150.

The most a contestant could win was $32,000 but was never won though were some close calls in certain shows. The highest win on that version (and the overall record) was $29,000.

Rule changes[]

In the Eubanks/Rafferty versions, the contestant was given three opportunities to change a card by choosing one of three pre-dealt cards. Originally, a player could change more than one card on a row, and could even change more than once on the same card; this was later modified to allow the contestant to change only one card per line.

Sequences of Top Prize[]
$16,000 $32,000
$2,000 $4,000 $8,000 $16,000
$200 $400 $800 $1,600

Car games[]

Starting on the episode aired September 29, 1986 on the Rafferty version and eventually becoming part of the Eubanks run, which began on October 27 of the same year, a second bonus round following the Money Cards was added to give players a chance to win a new car. Originally, the round was played using Jokers; the contestant earned one for winning the match and could win more if any of three additional Jokers that were in the Money Cards deck came up, which were set aside and replaced with the next card off the top of the deck. The contestant then placed the Joker(s) in a rack of seven numbered cards; if any of the chosen cards revealed "CAR" after it was turned over (the other cards read "NO" in much smaller lettering), the contestant won the car. The Jokers must be placed Joker side up; should the contestant place them face down, either the host would remind the contestant or turn the card over himself (sometimes with dealer assistance).

During the special weeks when children played, the top prize was usually a trip to Hawaii or a prize package featuring a boat (with either "WIN" or "HAWAII" displayed on one of the cards). The children received two Jokers to start; this meant there were two more in the Money Cards deck, which were set aside and replaced with the next card off the top of the deck. Also during the Money Cards, the champion's parent or adult guardian comes onstage to give advice to the champion on how much he/she should wager.

On the last episode of the Rafferty version, all four Jokers were given to the final champion at the outset.

Beginning on July 4, 1988 the car game was changed to use the audience-poll group. The question was played the same way it normally would during regular gameplay, with the contestant predicting how many of the poll group gave a certain answer. For the bonus round a prop with a dial was used, and the contestant moved the dial to lock in his/her guess. A correct guess won the car, and missing by one either way won $500 (except on the final episode when being one away also won the car or during "Young People's Week"). All other incorrect guesses won nothing more.


Broadcast History[]

CBS Daytime

  • January 06, 1986-March 31, 1989 (CBS Weekdays at 10:30 a.m.)


  • September 08, 1986-September 04, 1987


When the 1986 show was in development, auditions were held for people to host the show. For daytime, Bruce Forsyth was originally considered to host the show but the job went to Bob Eubanks instead. For nighttime, Rich Fields (who later went on to become the announcer for The Price is Right from 2004 to 2010) was originally considered for the hosting position but was turned down in favor of Bill Rafferty instead. He announced the Gameshow Marathon equivalent in 2006. In addition, Bruce Forsyth at the time hosted the short-lived ABC daytime game show that's appropriately titled Bruce Forsyth's Hot Streak (a Reg Grundy produced show) in the same year. However, Forsyth hosted its British equivalent called Play Your Cards Right/Bruce Forsyth's Play Your Cards Right airing on ITV from 1980 until 1987 along with its revivals from 1994 until 1999 and from 2002 until 2003. Forsyth died on August 18, (or 18 August) 2017 due to bronchial pneumonia at the age of 89.

This was Bob Eubanks' second Goodson-created game show he hosted, his first was the short-lived Trivia Trap for ABC Daytime in 1984.

This was the second time that both Eubanks and Wood worked together. The first was Trivia Trap or ABC Daytime in 1984 while the third and final time was a special for Game Show Network (GSN) called The Newlywed Game: A Silver Anniversary of Love and Laughter (although Wood was never credited at the end) in 1998.

This was Bill Rafferty's first Goodson-created game show he hosted, his second and final game show was the equally short-lived 1987 NBC Daytime revival of Blockbusters where it had two solo players competing against each other instead of a solo player vs. a family pair in the original 80s Cullen version.

The car cue was originally used for the short-lived NBC daytime game show called The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour hosted by Gene Rayburn and Jon "Bowzer" Bauman respectively from 1983 until 1984. It was also used as a car and showcase cue on The Price is Right as well. A revamp of the theme "Lottery" was used by WNEW-TV/WHDH-TV in Boston during the early 80s and late 90s as well as several local Illinois game shows, it can also be heard during the live stage show called The Price is Right Live!. The theme would also be heard on the short-lived British version of Price called The New Price is Right hosted by Bob Warman where it briefly ran on Sky One from 1989 until 1990.

The rainbow of cars graphic for the car game was also used on Classic Concentration when a contestant wins the bonus round of matching the names of cars.

The idea for having an in-studio jury was used by two other G-T shows. The first was the unsold pilot It's Predictable hosted by the late Gene Rayburn in 1970 while the second was the short-lived 1979 NBC daytime game show Mindreaders hosted by the late Dick Martin.

This version (Eubanks) was later replaced by a revival of Now You See It hosted by Chuck Henry although this version like it's original 1970s counterpart didn't last long either as it ran from April 3 until July 4, 1989 for four months.


Main Article: Card Sharks (1986)/Merchandise




Set Props[]

Crew Member Jacket[]


Prize Cards Artwork (Rafferty)[]


Trade Ads[]



1986-89 Eubanks era[]

1986-87 Rafferty era[]

Ticket Plug[]

Episode Status[]

See Also: Card Sharks (1986)/Episode Guide

This series exists in its entirety, and has aired on GSN and Buzzr (Both Eubanks and Rafferty respectively) at various times.


These are some of the stations that carried the 1986-87 syndicated version of "Card Sharks" hosted by the late Bill Rafferty.

New York – WABC

Los Angeles – KNBC

San Francisco – KGO

Seattle – KING-TV

Phoenix – KTSP (now KSAZ)

Buffalo – WKBW

Philadelphia – WPVI

Miami – WTVJ

Atlanta – WSB-TV

Oklahoma City – KOCO

Indianapolis - WTHR

Green Bay - WFRV

Milwaukee - WITI

Chicago - WPWR

Marquette, MI - WJMN

Montgomery, AL - WSFA

Mobile, AL - WKRG

Dothan, AL - WDHN

Fort Wayne - WKJG

Casper, WY - KGWC

Denver - KUSA

Greensboro - WXII

Gainesville, FL - WOGX

Orlando - WFTV

Dallas - KDFI

Fresno - KFSN

See Also[]

Card Sharks
Card Sharks (1996 pilot)
Card Sharks (2001)
Gameshow Marathon
Card Sharks (2019)


A blog about Card Sharks (1986-89) @ Best of the 80s
Card Sharks (Eubanks) Game Show Galaxy
Card Sharks (Eubanks) @ Jay Anton
Card Sharks (Rafferty) @ Game Show Headquaters



Card Sharks - Bob Eubanks Game Show Pilot 2


WJSU Family Feud Card Sharks The Price is Right promo, 1988


Card Sharks


Card Sharks - First Show with Bob Eubanks


Card Sharks 1986 - Episode 31 Amy v. Kay


Card Sharks CBS Daytime 1989 Last Show Of The Series Aired on March 31st 1989


Card Sharks (1986) Bill Rafferty


Card Sharks w Bill Rafferty (Finale) - May 1987


1980s Card Sharks promo


Card Sharks promo & CBS network ID, 1988


Card Sharks promo, 1988


1988 Card Sharks poll group promo


Card Sharks promo, 1986


Card Sharks promo, 1987


Card Sharks Funny Contestant Plug


Card Sharks Worthless Contestant Plug - March 1989