Welcome to donduk. A refuge for those who enjoy Deal or No Deal, the hit Channel 4 gameshow hosted by Noel Edmonds. The award winning gameshow Deal or No Deal has become a big hit for Channel 4 and marks a sensational return to our screens of Noel Edmonds.

Deal or No Deal is enjoyed my millions of viewers daily, where the contestants battle with The Banker to try and win a jackpot of £250,000. Here at donduk you will find full daily reports of each show, as well Deal or No Deal news and specials. Deal or No Deal although initially appearing very simple in format of just opening a few boxes for the chance to win some big money prizes, actually has some potentially complex decisions to be made at points throughout the show, the contestants occasionally try complex or simple gameplay in an attempt to give them an edge in beating the Banker.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Its how you play the game

I went to Las Vegas once, its something I think everybody should do ...once. I was working in LA, so for the weekend I put $1000 in my back pocket and took a cheap flight across to the gambling capital of the world. The flight was crowded with like minded people, an air of excitement, anticipation, energy; the stranger sitting beside me kept saying 'No guts, no glory'.

I arrived on the strip in late evening, and having got my bearings, I entered the Grand Met Hotel. The whole ground floor was a sea of roulette/blackjack/craps tables. I had not booked a room, my intention was to play with the money I had and then return win or lose, 24 hours later - I could sleep when I got back to LA.

This was my first time in a casino, everything was alien, and very crowded. I decided to watch from the corner at a blackjack table. The dealer slapped cards in front of a group of jaded, blood-shot-eyed players, and then waited impatiently for each to play or stand. It seemed clear to me that there must be a skill to this game as a number of the players tisked, tutted, groaned, shook their heads, and thumped the table when the player nearest me apparently chose the wrong move - which he seemed to do quite often. There seemed to be more skill involved with blackjack than roulette; afterall, who could predict where the ball was going to land?

So I stood and watched, and I began to learn. I discovered that the drinks and sandwiches were free, but the waitresses required to be tipped more than the cost of a three course meal. I learned about chips, and I learned enough about blackjack to feel that I could play. Approximately an hour after walking in the door, I sat down, gingerly placing a hundred dollar bill on the green, and then it was gone - replaced by ten bits of coloured plastic. I had heard about a strategy for blackjack which I was going to try - it seemed foolproof. I would bet a dollar, if I lost I would double my bet. I would keep doing this until I won, and when I did eventually win I would have gained one dollar. Of course I knew that the sums involved could get very high if I lost too many times in a row, but the dealer seemed to go bust at least once in every 5 plays which I felt was an acceptable risk.

Within 3 hours I had lost my last dollar. Early on I had become aware that my plan was failing, there was an inevitability to my situation which set in around the halfway stage, and when it came to my final bet, I had absolutely no expectation, or even hope, of winning. I spent the last of my money in the same way that I might finish writing a sentence before stopping for tea. The floor was clearing slightly by this point as it was at least 2.00 am, but the casino operated 24 hours of everyday, which was good as I needed somewhere warm to stay until the time came to WALK to the airport.

I had deliberatly ring-fenced my position - I had taken an amount of money which was not going to affect my life significantly, I had bought a return flight ticket and pre-paid the carpark charges at LAX. Now I was broke, but I felt like a journalist in a war-zone, watching death and misery all around me and knowing that in a few hours I would be getting back to normality - I was bullet-proof.

Through a smokey blanket that seemed to hover around throat level, I could just make out the stranger who sat beside me on the flight from LA - he was at the other end of the hall. This man was in his late fifties, he had been smoking too many cigarettes for too many years, his wrinkled face set in Wyoming, his voice a mixture of John Wayne and Jack Daniels. He was sitting alone with the dealer at a blackjack table, piles of chips stacked into columns in front of him. As I drew closer it became clear that the stranger was from a different league - a different world - each chip was $1000. He acknowledge my presence with a nod, the dealer scrutinised me for a second and then returned to his cards.

Over the next two hours I watched in stunned silence, and growing incredulity, as this man moved more and more of his chips across to the dealers side of the table. The dealers came and went, and the floor continued to empty, no-one else came to the table. Occasionally he won a game, but his reaction was the same win or lose. Finally it came down to his last $5000, he looked across at me, and for the only time, I saw him smile. He pushed across the final stack. He drew two cards and then a third to give him 20. He had won with 20 before, but the female dealer was sitting on a face card. She turned over her second card to reveal an ace and the stranger rose from his chair in the same moment. He let out a long slow sigh. As he moved away from the table he stopped at my shoulder, his voice creaking through the smoke, 'my wife died last month, its time to move on'. He nodded across to the table he'd just left - 'that was my house'. And then he left.

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