Last night I took a rip at Deal or No Deal as being a boring idea for a game show. I still think I'm right, but Mark Evanier doesn't agree. He likes it, in fact he likes it so much that he wrote not one but two posts about it. I still think I'm right, but it's a case of horses for courses and for him it's an enjoyable way to waste an hour.
However since I wasn't interested in the show enough to check out its website (and I rarely am by the way) it took a mention from Mark to get me to find out about the Deal Or No Deal online game, which is a rather interesting way to spend a few minutes. You can't win anything - that's left to their phone in thing that runs during each episode and seems about as interesting as watching paint dry - but you can take part in the sort of decision making that the players have to go through. As I expected there is no real optimal strategy for picking cases - picking 1-2-3-4-5 seems to work as well as randomization. The big question is when is the right time to make your deal. Unless you've had a truly atrocious run of luck you shouldn't make a deal before you get to the level of picking one case at a time. At the same time, unless the choice is between two extremely high amounts of money you should make a deal at some point in play - in other words don't open all of the suitcases. Beyond that, your strategy depends on perceived odds of winning. Try it yourself.