How to win at Deal or No Deal, according to science

How to win every time at Deal or No Deal, according to science

  • Popular game shows returns to screens on Monday, albeit with slashed jackpot 
  • Here’s the best strategy for making the right decision at the right time

It’s been away from our screens for seven years, but Deal or No Deal is finally making a comeback on Monday. 

A new set of contestants will take on the dreaded Banker to be in with a chance of winning a life-changing cash prize of up to £100,000. 

The players have to resist several tempting offers from the mysterious antagonist as they open those iconic red boxes in their quest to take the jackpot. 

Overall, having a successful game largely depends on luck, but carefully considering the chances of opening a ‘Big Five’ box may be key to success, analysis shows. 

Here’s the best strategy for making the right decision at the right time, according to science. 

Players have to resist tempting offers from the dreaded Banker as they open those iconic red boxes. Overall, having a successful game largely depends on luck, but carefully considering the chances of opening a ‘Big Five’ box may be key to success

It’s back! The popular game show will return to TV screens on Monday (November 20), headed by new host Stephen Mulhern (pictured). In each episode, a contestant takes on the infamous Banker for the chance to win up to £100,000. There are no questions, except for one: deal or no deal?

READ MORE ITV execs slash jackpot by more than half for Deal or No Deal reboot

‘Times are tough for ITV’ said a source. Pictured, new host Stephen Mulhern

Jared Stock, a software developer and data scientist at Thoughtworks in New York, called Deal or No Deal ‘the greatest game show ever conceived’. 

‘Contestants are constantly balancing risk and reward, betting on what value they have in their case and adjusting their tolerance for risk based on what values are found,’ he said.

‘The suspense and drama as we watch someone pick cases and agonize over whether to accept huge sums of money is very entertaining.’ 

For those who were too young during the original run of the show, the premise of Deal or No Deal is deceptively simple. 

The player is presented with 22 sealed red boxes, each with a secret sum of money in it, ranging from 1p to £100,000. (For the original run on Channel 4, the jackpot was £250,000, but this has been reduced for the reboot.)

One of these 22 boxes belongs to the player, so essentially the money inside is theirs if they want it – but they don’t know what the sum is and are unable to open it until the end of the show. 

Instead, they have to eliminate the other boxes one by one by opening them and, at various stages in the gameplay, consider offers from ‘The Banker’ – a real person on the end of the telephone. 

The Banker’s job is to buy the box off the contestant – but his offer will depend on which amounts are still in play and the probability of the player’s box containing a big sum. 

So, for example, if all the top five amounts (£10,000, £25,000, £50,000, £75,000 and £100,000, collectively known as the ‘Big Five’) are still in play the offer will be hefty because there’s a bigger chance one of them are in the player’s box. 

One of the offers from the Banker will arrive a little over halfway through the game when there are 11 boxes left (’11-box’), and analysis shows this is a crucial moment. 

The top five amounts (£10,000, £25,000, £50,000, £75,000 and £100,000) are collectively known as the ‘Big Five’

Chances of finding a Big Five sum (if all are still in play)

14 boxes left: 35.7% chance 

13 boxes left: 38.4% chance 

12 boxes left: 41.6% chance

11 boxes left: 45.4% chance

10 boxes left: 50% chance

9 boxes left: 55.5% chance

8 boxes left: 62.5% chance  

That’s because the chances of hitting one of the ‘Big Five’ suddenly start ramping up, MailOnline has found – regardless of how many of the Big Five boxes are still in play. 

Let’s say the contestant is lucky enough that all of the Big Five sums are still in play at 11-box. In this scenario, the chance of opening one of them is 45.4 per cent. 

But this rises to 50 per cent when 10 of the boxes are left, 55.5 per cent when nine boxes are left, and 62.5 per cent when there are eight boxes left. 

After 8-box, the chances of opening one of the top five escalate even more steeply, suggesting 8-box is the time to bow out and say to the banker: ‘deal’. 

Of course, the fewer there are of the ‘Big Five’ still in play, the less likely it gets that contestants will find one of them at each stage of the game. 

For example, the chances of opening a Big Five box if only two are in still in play is 18.1 per cent when there’s 11 boxes left and only 9 per cent when there’s eight boxes left. 

So players who are unlucky enough to open more of the Big Five early in the game may be buoyed to carry on by these lower odds and turn down more offers from the Banker, although they’ll likely be chasing a much smaller sum. 

Having a successful game does largely depend on sheer luck; to put it in perspective, the chances of a contestant having the £100,000 in their box is just 4.54 per cent. 

However, taking into account the various percentage probabilities at each stage of the game of opening a big one is a useful tool to make the wisest decisions.

‘The best contestants in my view are the ones who can adapt their thinking as the state of the board changes,’ Stock told MailOnline.

‘People who go in stubbornly and say “I know I have the jackpot, so I’m not taking any offers” are almost always wrong and often end up watching their game implode.

‘The most consistently bad decision people make on this show is to stubbornly keep playing a really risky board instead of taking a perfectly good offer when it comes.’  

Throwback: Deal Or No Deal was previously fronted by Noel Edmonds, from its first episode in 2005 until it ended in August 2016 after 13 series

Laura Pearce becomes the first jackpot winner in 2007 

A lot depends on the overarching objective of each player. 

Those playing to win at least something (who don’t want to regret turning down a nice sum) should always carefully consider the Banker’s offer and not be afraid to deal.

But if players are determined to get the jackpot, this makes things different. 

They’ll need to have the strength not to be tempted by offers and believe in that slim (4.54 per cent) chance that the £100,000 is in their box – just like the first jackpot winner of the original series. 

As former presenter Noel Edmonds said, ‘If you want the big money you’ve got to come here with bravery’ – but many more contestants had bravery and went away with paltry amounts. 

‘Knowing when to take the money takes just as much guts, if not more, than just shouting “no deal” at the Banker,’ Stock told MailOnline. 

‘Luck is pretty much baked in once you pick your case, so timing and guts are the real trick.’ 

Chances of opening a ‘Big Five’ box on Deal or No Deal


22 boxes left: 22.7% chance

21 boxes: 23% 

20 boxes: 25%

19 boxes: 26.3% 

18 boxes: 27.7% 

17 boxes: 29.4% 

16 boxes: 31.2% 

15 boxes: 33.3%

14 boxes: 35.7% 

13 boxes: 38.4% 

12 boxes: 41.6% 

11 boxes: 45.4% 

10 boxes: 50% 

9 boxes: 55.5% 

8 boxes: 62.5% 

7 boxes: 71.4% 

6 boxes: 83.3% 

5 boxes: 100%


19 boxes left: 10.5% chance

18 boxes: 11.1%

17 boxes: 11.7%

16 boxes: 12.5%

15 boxes: 13.3%

14 boxes: 14.2%

13 boxes: 15.3%

12 boxes: 16.6%

11 boxes: 18.1%

10 boxes: 20%

9 boxes: 22.2%

8 boxes: 25%

7 boxes: 28.5%

6 boxes: 33.3%

5 boxes: 40%

4 boxes: 50%

3 boxes: 66.6%

2 boxes: 100%



21 boxes left: 19% chance

20 boxes: 20%

19 boxes: 21% 

18 boxes: 22.2% 

17 boxes: 23.5% 

16 boxes: 25% 

15 boxes: 26.6% 

14 boxes: 28.5% 

13 boxes: 30.7% 

12 boxes: 33.3% 

11 boxes: 36.3% 

10 boxes: 40% 

9 boxes: 44.4% 

8 boxes: 50% 

7 boxes: 57.1% 

6 boxes: 66.6% 

5 boxes: 80% 

4 boxes: 100%


18 boxes left: 5.5% chance 

17 boxes: 5.8%

16 boxes: 6.2% 

15 boxes: 6.6%

14 boxes: 7.1%

13 boxes: 7.6%

12 boxes: 8.3%

11 boxes: 9%

10 boxes: 10%

9 boxes: 11.1%

8 boxes: 12.5%

7 boxes: 14.2%

6 boxes: 16.6%

5 boxes: 20%

4 boxes: 25%

3 boxes: 33.3%

2 boxes: 50%

1 box: 100%


20 boxes left: 15% chance

19 boxes: 15.7%

18 boxes: 16.6%

17 boxes: 17.6%

16 boxes: 18.7%

15 boxes: 20%

14 boxes: 21.4%

13 boxes: 23%

12 boxes: 25%

11 boxes: 27.2%

10 boxes: 30%

9 boxes: 33.3%

8 boxes: 37.5%

7 boxes: 42.8%

6 boxes: 50%

5 boxes:  60%

4 boxes: 75%

3 boxes: 100%


Source: Read Full Article