How to Win ‘The Price is Right’: 5 Ways to Game the System, According to Yale-Trained Expert

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The games on The Price is Right might appear mostly luck-based, but a Yale-trained game theory expert believes he knows the winning strategies to succeed on the long-running game show.

As reported by CNBC, Justin L. Bergner, an investment analyst who specialized in game theory at Yale University, has written a book titled Solving The Price Is Right, which is described as a “reference manual for regular viewers” offering tips on how to win.

According to the official book description, “Bergner draws strategic and mathematical insights from all facets of the show, from Contestants’ Row bidding to the Showcase Showdown, and all 77 Pricing Games, using a combination of game theory, probability theory, statistics, and pattern recognition.”

Bergner meticulously studied hundreds of episodes from Seasons 47 and 48 to write the book and determine the best winning strategies. CNBC then compiled the top five tips, which were revealed in the book.

Mastering the Big Wheel in the Showcase Showdown

The Showcase Showdown sees contestants spinning the Big Wheel up to two times each to get the closest to $1 without going over.

According to CNBC, Bergner recommends the first spinner to spin again if their first spin is $0.65 or less. Meanwhile, the second spinner should go again if their at $0.50 or less but stop if they hit $0.55. Finally, the third spinner needs to simply spin to beat the highest score from the previous spinners.

The contestant should also be able to spin the wheel properly, as one unfortunate contestant struggled to do on a recent episode.

Where to drop the Plinko chip

The classic game Plinko sees contestants dropping chips down a large, peg-filled board into slots worth either  $0, $100, $500, $1,000 or $10,000.

Bergner states that the probability of landing the chip in the middle $10,000 slot is only 14.1%. However, he says if a contestant places the chip directly in the center row, the odds of landing in the big money slot are roughly 23%.

He also recommends carefully placing the chip into the row rather than just dropping it from the top of the board.

The Price Is Right


Avoid underbidding on Contestants’ Row

Contestants’ Row sees four contestants bidding on the price of various items. The contestant who gets closest to the actual retail price (without going over) wins and moves on to the other pricing games.

Bergner’s maths show that the first bidder wins only 18% of the time, compared to the last bidder, who wins 41% of the time. He says a big part of this is due to the first three contestants “underbidding” due to fear of going over.

To avoid this, Bergner suggests the first three bidders should increase their planned bids by about 10% on average to counteract the underbidding bias, especially for pricier items over $1,000.

Last Bidder Strategy

As for the last bidder on Contestants’ Row, Bergner advises the best strategy is “clipping” the previous bids by at least $1. Alternatively, if the last bidder thinks the previous bids are too high, they should just bid $1.

Bidding on the First Showcase in Showcase Showdown

Finally, Bergner advises on how contestants can maximize their chances of winning during the Showcase Showdown, where the contestant who bids closest to their showcase value (without going over) wins.

The contestant with the higher dollar value of winnings can choose to bid on the first showcase or pass it and bid on the second showcase. Bergner points out that bidding on the first showcase results in better outcomes.

According to CNBC, Bergner says there is a “grass is greener” phenomenon with the second showcase, as the bidder with the highest winnings passed on the first showcase 66% of the time. This then leads to overcompensation for skipping on the first showcase.

Bergner recommends the first bidder should stick with bidding on the first showcase. Otherwise, they should bid with a greater margin of safety if trying to correct for the anxiety of bidding second.

That all sounds simple, right? Now all you have to do is get on the show…

The Price Is Right, Weekdays, CBS

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