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When Bad Things Happen to Good Players
One of the most common remarks people make to me when they talk about Wheel is some form of, “Don’t you just want to scream when those players do something stupid?” I try to explain the difficulties of playing a game on national television, and I assure them that our players know how to play, but sometimes wilt a bit under pressure. I also tell them—and it’s true—that I understand the challenges they’re facing and, for the most part, I understand what they’re going through.
However, even though I don’t want to scream, I do feel badly for people who do things that diminish their chance of winning. So, for the record, here are some mistakes that have been repeatedly made by players over the years:
They don’t buy vowels. I know you’re tired of hearing about this, but it continues to be the most under-used strategy in the game. I won’t go over all the reasons again here, but vowel-buying is the single most important key to winning.
They forget game situations. Whether you should spin again or solve is often dictated by where we are in the show and what the scores are. If Player 1 has a good lead and knows a puzzle late in the game, he should think twice about spinning again, especially if Player 2 has a lot of money ready to be won. A Bankrupt or Lose-a-Turn could change everything. On the other hand, if an extra spin can give you the lead and possibly a trip to the Bonus Round, why not take it?
They watch the wheel go around. That’s my job. A player’s job is solving the puzzle. Why not use those five or ten seconds for studying the puzzle instead of watching something you can’t control anyway?
They don’t maximize their winnings when calling letters. You’ve seen it, I’m sure. The player knows the puzzle, lands on a big number, and then calls a letter that appears only once in the puzzle while ignoring one that appears three times.
And, of course, there are the “brain freeze” things that happen when your nerves get the better of you: things like mis-solving the puzzle, calling a letter that’s already been called, looking at the wrong arrow, calling a consonant that can’t possible fit in the word, or blurting out the answer in the speed-up round without calling a letter first.
I also wonder about the caution some people demonstrate when they finally get on the show. They have a few hundred dollars and they know the puzzle, so they solve it even though there are a whole bunch of unexposed letters still up there. Or they won’t risk a thousand dollars for a 50/50 chance to win ten thousand dollars in our Mystery Round. I don’t mean to pooh-pooh those dollar amounts, but why did you want to come on the show? You’re playing with house money and how often do you get a chance like that? It’s a game. Have fun. Take a few risks. If you hit Bankrupt, we don’t actually come to your house and foreclose on your mortgage and take your car and furniture.
Having said all this, none of it is meant to knock our players; it’s meant merely to talk about some of the more common mistakes they make. Again, unless you’ve been there, you have no idea how different it is to be playing the game in the studio instead of on your living room sofa. I’ve often said that, under the pressure-filled circumstances, I’m impressed that they’re able to do as well as they do.
Wheel is a fun game to play at home, but it’s also much easier. So the next time a player does something “stupid”, try to understand what they’re up against.
- When Bad Things Happen to Good Players
- Season 27
- No Tournament of Champions for "Wheel"
- Am I Leaving?
- Common Questions and Uncommon Answers
- You Are Now Entering Wheel of Fortune
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