4 Of The Best Gambling Game Shows In History

Hand Over a Buzzer With a Casino Background

There are so many exciting aspects to both game shows and gambling of any kind. However, when you combine the 2 together, then you have a recipe for unparalleled excitement.

Sure, winning the big bucks in a Las Vegas casino is cool, but winning in front of a television audience takes the cake. Game shows and gambling are as American as apple pie.

Let’s take a look at 4 of the best gambling game shows in history.

1 – $100,000 Fortune Hunt

The $100,000 Fortune Hunt is one of the first lottery game shows.

It was based in Illinois and aired nationally. There were actually 2 more lottery game shows in Illinois that aired after the $100,000 Fortune Hunt.

There are some similarities between this game and the Wheel of Fortune. 6 players would pick a number that was on a “trilon.”

There were 36 trilons in all and a woman by the name of Linda would then turn the trilon (much like Vanna White).

The trilons would have a positive or negative amount. This amount was either added to or deducted from the current player’s score.

However, there were other spaces available on the board that a player could encounter. For instance, a player could choose a number and a Double space would be revealed. This allowed the player to choose another space.

$100,000 Fortune Hunt Screen Shot

If a positive dollar amount was chosen, then the double applied to it and that was the amount won. The double did not apply to negative amounts. A player could also get a free turn when they selected a number from the board.

This could be redeemed by the player whenever they wanted to get an extra shot at making a good pick from the board.

Much like Wheel Of Fortune, players could pick a number from the board and get a Bankrupt square. At which point, the player would lose all of their money.

A very interesting aspect of this game is that a “Decision” square could be chosen from the board. This is where a player could win a car and leave the game. They could also pass and continue to play if they so wished.

Starting in 1990, if a player won $100,000 in the first game, they could return for a maximum of 5 weeks. This gave them a shot at winning $500,000.

That’s a pretty sweet deal.

2 – Illinois Instant Riches

Illinois Instant Riches was another game show based on Illinois gambling. Eventually the name of this game show was changed to illinois’ Luckiest.

A contestant would be chosen from 15 people by spinning a wheel and seeing who it landed on. At this point the selected contestant would win some lottery tickets and get to play the game.

Force Field was one of the games that involved magnets. There was a magnet that hovered above a group of magnets that had different dollar amounts on them.

A pendulum with a magnet is swung above the dollar amount magnets. It then attracts a magnet with a certain dollar amount and the player would then win the amount on that magnet. Then that dollar amount would be replaced by a “Wipe Out” magnet.

At this point, the player got another chance to swing the pendulum to win more money. If the “Wipe Out” magnet was attracted to the pendulum magnet, then the player lost all the money they earned from their first try.

Mismatch is another game that might be played by a contestant. The contestant stands behind 2 containers and none of the contestants get to see what is in either of these containers.

Illinois Instant Riches Game Show Screenshot

The containers contained 3 colored balls, green, yellow, and red. So, the contestant chose a ball from the right container which was referred to as selecting a “base” color. At this point the contestant is spotted $5,000, and must choose a ball from the other container.

All the contestant would need to do to get a “mismatch” is pick a ball that was a different color than the first ball they chose to win an additional $5,000. If they chose a ball with the same color, they won no additional money.

Once the contestant made 3 pulls, they would be presented with the choice of making one last pull or stopping altogether. If the contestant wanted one more pull, another ball that was the same color as the first ball they chose would be added to the second container.

If the ball they chose at this point was a mismatch, then it would triple their money. If the ball was the same as the “base” color, then the contestant lost half of their money.

A contestant could win up to $60,000 on this game.

The Wrecking Ball game was a fun addition to this show.

A rotating platform had 12 buildings on it. The wrecking ball was attached to a crane off to the side. The contestant would have to have their back to the rotating platform. At this point, the contestant would pull a lever to release the wrecking ball.

The wrecking ball swung over the platform six times knocking over buildings in the process. After the first wrecking ball swing, the remaining buildings were each worth $1,500. There was then a second swing of the wrecking ball. After this, the remaining buildings were each worth $3,000.

Now the contestant had a choice of stopping or going for one more round with the wrecking ball. The maximum amount won off this game was $108,000.

3 – Idiot Savants

Idiot Savant Game Show Screenshot

This was a fun game show that was on MTV.

This game had an educational aspect to it and was a typical question and answer format that four contestants would compete in for an entire week. Each day of the week a game ensued with eliminations and a bonus round.

At the end of the week, each contestant would have a total score for the entire week. The contestant with the highest score at the week’s end would win the grand prize which would usually come in the form of a car or vacation.

4 – Joker Joker Joker

This was a version of the game show Joker’s Wild where the contestants were kids.

2 kids went head to head and played for points instead of dollars.

The kids would then try their luck by pulling a lever that triggered a giant slot machine. This would cause the wheels of the slot machine to spin and on each wheel were a set of categories

So, three categories would be shown when the wheels stopped. The contestant that had pulled the lever could then choose 1 category from their 3 choices. The host would then ask the contestant a question from that category.

If the contestant got the right answer they were awarded points. However, if they answered incorrectly, this gave their opponent a chance to answer the same question and thus win the points.

Joker Joker Joker Game Show Image

Since there were three wheels, a category could come up on two or all three wheels. So, more points were awarded for a correct answer if the category showed up more than one of the slot machine wheels.

A $500 savings bond was awarded to the kid that won. The kid who lost also got a savings bond that was worth $100.

Jokers were included on these wheels and, as you might have guessed, the jokers were wild.

If the contestant got a joker they could then make it any category they wanted to make a match from the spin or go off the board and choose a category that was not represented by the spin at all.

It’s nice that in this version, everybody is a winner of sorts.


Game shows based on real money gambling have been and will continue to be an integral part of American entertainment.

It is fun to root for a player and also to think of how well you would do had you been there instead of the televised contestants.

Winning big at one of these game shows can dramatically alter someone’s life forever.

Are there some additional gambling game shows that are your particular favorites from over the years? If so, let me know in the comments.