Deal or No Deal Player Selection Is Not Random

Fairly obvious one, this. UK Deal or No Deal contestant’s names flash up at the beginning of the show as if one is being selected at random. However, we can see very easily that this is not really happening.

If selection was random (one of 22 potential contestants randomly selected at the start of the show) 9.3% of contestants would have to wait 50 or more shows for their turn. 1 in 100 contestants would have to wait 97 shows or more. In practice, this doesn’t happen. There have currently been more than 500 contestants and only one contestant (Lucy Harrington) has had to wait as long as 50 shows (she waited exactly 50). Filming 3 shows per day (15 per week), it would not be practical for contestants to ever wait much longer than 30 shows.

Spoiling my not-very-amazing detective work, Producer Glenn Hugill is on record as saying:

“No it’s not random. For some reason the Radio Times said it was, but that didn’t come from us. It’s always been a selection otherwise we can’t guarantee people that they will play within a reasonable time period/have people in the audience etc. The players for each week are selected on Monday and confirmed in threes each weekday morning.”

But I didn’t read that until after I’d written a little ruby program to tell me how long I might have to wait under random conditions!

Here’s a table of wait times in a truly random scenario:

Will sit out 0 shows ... 4.5 percent chance (cumulative: 4.5)
Will sit out 1 show ... 4.3 percent chance (cumulative: 8.9)
Will sit out 2 shows ... 4.1 percent chance (cumulative: 13.0)
Will sit out 3 shows ... 4.0 percent chance (cumulative: 17.0)
Will sit out 4 shows ... 3.8 percent chance (cumulative: 20.8)
Will sit out 5 shows ... 3.6 percent chance (cumulative: 24.4)
Will sit out 6 shows ... 3.4 percent chance (cumulative: 27.8)
Will sit out 7 shows ... 3.3 percent chance (cumulative: 31.1)
Will sit out 8 shows ... 3.1 percent chance (cumulative: 34.2)
Will sit out 9 shows ... 3.0 percent chance (cumulative: 37.2)
Will sit out 10 shows ... 2.9 percent chance (cumulative: 40.1)
Will sit out 11 shows ... 2.7 percent chance (cumulative: 42.8)
Will sit out 12 shows ... 2.6 percent chance (cumulative: 45.4)
Will sit out 13 shows ... 2.5 percent chance (cumulative: 47.9)
Will sit out 14 shows ... 2.4 percent chance (cumulative: 50.2)
Will sit out 15 shows ... 2.3 percent chance (cumulative: 52.5)
Will sit out 16 shows ... 2.2 percent chance (cumulative: 54.7)
Will sit out 17 shows ... 2.1 percent chance (cumulative: 56.7)
Will sit out 18 shows ... 2.0 percent chance (cumulative: 58.7)
Will sit out 19 shows ... 1.9 percent chance (cumulative: 60.6)
Will sit out 20 shows ... 1.8 percent chance (cumulative: 62.4)
Will sit out 21 shows ... 1.7 percent chance (cumulative: 64.1)
Will sit out 22 shows ... 1.6 percent chance (cumulative: 65.7)
Will sit out 23 shows ... 1.6 percent chance (cumulative: 67.3)
Will sit out 24 shows ... 1.5 percent chance (cumulative: 68.7)
Will sit out 25 shows ... 1.4 percent chance (cumulative: 70.2)
Will sit out 26 shows ... 1.4 percent chance (cumulative: 71.5)
Will sit out 27 shows ... 1.3 percent chance (cumulative: 72.8)
Will sit out 28 shows ... 1.2 percent chance (cumulative: 74.1)
Will sit out 29 shows ... 1.2 percent chance (cumulative: 75.2)
Will sit out 30 shows ... 1.1 percent chance (cumulative: 76.4)
Will sit out 31 shows ... 1.1 percent chance (cumulative: 77.4)
Will sit out 32 shows ... 1.0 percent chance (cumulative: 78.5)
Will sit out 33 shows ... 1.0 percent chance (cumulative: 79.4)
Will sit out 34 shows ... 0.9 percent chance (cumulative: 80.4)
Will sit out 35 shows ... 0.9 percent chance (cumulative: 81.3)
Will sit out 36 shows ... 0.9 percent chance (cumulative: 82.1)
Will sit out 37 shows ... 0.8 percent chance (cumulative: 82.9)
Will sit out 38 shows ... 0.8 percent chance (cumulative: 83.7)
Will sit out 39 shows ... 0.7 percent chance (cumulative: 84.4)
Will sit out 40 shows ... 0.7 percent chance (cumulative: 85.2)
Will sit out 41 shows ... 0.7 percent chance (cumulative: 85.8)
Will sit out 42 shows ... 0.6 percent chance (cumulative: 86.5)
Will sit out 43 shows ... 0.6 percent chance (cumulative: 87.1)
Will sit out 44 shows ... 0.6 percent chance (cumulative: 87.7)
Will sit out 45 shows ... 0.6 percent chance (cumulative: 88.2)
Will sit out 46 shows ... 0.5 percent chance (cumulative: 88.8)
Will sit out 47 shows ... 0.5 percent chance (cumulative: 89.3)
Will sit out 48 shows ... 0.5 percent chance (cumulative: 89.8)
Will sit out 49 shows ... 0.5 percent chance (cumulative: 90.2)
Will sit out 50 shows ... 0.4 percent chance (cumulative: 90.7)
Will sit out 51 shows ... 0.4 percent chance (cumulative: 91.1)
Will sit out 52 shows ... 0.4 percent chance (cumulative: 91.5)
Will sit out 53 shows ... 0.4 percent chance (cumulative: 91.9)
Will sit out 54 shows ... 0.4 percent chance (cumulative: 92.3)
Will sit out 55 shows ... 0.4 percent chance (cumulative: 92.6)
Will sit out 56 shows ... 0.3 percent chance (cumulative: 92.9)
Will sit out 57 shows ... 0.3 percent chance (cumulative: 93.3)
Will sit out 58 shows ... 0.3 percent chance (cumulative: 93.6)
Will sit out 59 shows ... 0.3 percent chance (cumulative: 93.9)
Will sit out 60 shows ... 0.3 percent chance (cumulative: 94.1)
Will sit out 61 shows ... 0.3 percent chance (cumulative: 94.4)
Will sit out 62 shows ... 0.3 percent chance (cumulative: 94.7)
Will sit out 63 shows ... 0.2 percent chance (cumulative: 94.9)
Will sit out 64 shows ... 0.2 percent chance (cumulative: 95.1)
Will sit out 65 shows ... 0.2 percent chance (cumulative: 95.4)
Will sit out 66 shows ... 0.2 percent chance (cumulative: 95.6)
Will sit out 67 shows ... 0.2 percent chance (cumulative: 95.8)
Will sit out 68 shows ... 0.2 percent chance (cumulative: 96.0)
Will sit out 69 shows ... 0.2 percent chance (cumulative: 96.1)
Will sit out 70 shows ... 0.2 percent chance (cumulative: 96.3)
Will sit out 71 shows ... 0.2 percent chance (cumulative: 96.5)
Will sit out 72 shows ... 0.2 percent chance (cumulative: 96.6)
Will sit out 73 shows ... 0.2 percent chance (cumulative: 96.8)
Will sit out 74 shows ... 0.1 percent chance (cumulative: 96.9)
Will sit out 75 shows ... 0.1 percent chance (cumulative: 97.1)
Will sit out 76 shows ... 0.1 percent chance (cumulative: 97.2)
Will sit out 77 shows ... 0.1 percent chance (cumulative: 97.3)
Will sit out 78 shows ... 0.1 percent chance (cumulative: 97.5)
Will sit out 79 shows ... 0.1 percent chance (cumulative: 97.6)
Will sit out 80 shows ... 0.1 percent chance (cumulative: 97.7)
Will sit out 81 shows ... 0.1 percent chance (cumulative: 97.8)
Will sit out 82 shows ... 0.1 percent chance (cumulative: 97.9)
Will sit out 83 shows ... 0.1 percent chance (cumulative: 98.0)
Will sit out 84 shows ... 0.1 percent chance (cumulative: 98.1)
Will sit out 85 shows ... 0.1 percent chance (cumulative: 98.2)
Will sit out 86 shows ... 0.1 percent chance (cumulative: 98.3)
Will sit out 87 shows ... 0.1 percent chance (cumulative: 98.3)
Will sit out 88 shows ... 0.1 percent chance (cumulative: 98.4)
Will sit out 89 shows ... 0.1 percent chance (cumulative: 98.5)
Will sit out 90 shows ... 0.1 percent chance (cumulative: 98.5)
Will sit out 91 shows ... 0.1 percent chance (cumulative: 98.6)
Will sit out 92 shows ... 0.1 percent chance (cumulative: 98.7)
Will sit out 93 shows ... 0.1 percent chance (cumulative: 98.7)
Will sit out 94 shows ... 0.1 percent chance (cumulative: 98.8)
Will sit out 95 shows ... 0.1 percent chance (cumulative: 98.9)
Will sit out 96 shows ... 0.1 percent chance (cumulative: 98.9)
Will sit out 97 shows ... 0.0 percent chance (cumulative: 99.0)
Will sit out 98 shows ... 0.0 percent chance (cumulative: 99.0)
Will sit out 99 shows ... 0.0 percent chance (cumulative: 99.0)

5 Replies to “Deal or No Deal Player Selection Is Not Random”

  1. Another way to tell:- the appointed player is the one with their partner,Mum or Dad. brother or Sister etc. in the audience.

  2. To apply just have a good hard luck story to bleat on about, a demeanour which says you know the chances of winning the biggy are hopeless but yr hoping and someone sitting in the audience who gives no real help but can waffle on about something insignificant

  3. another way to tell, the person who is doing the game, their family members are always in the same spot 🙂

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