LOS ANGELES | If you ever get to play Plinko, "drop that chip right down the center," says "Price is Right" host Drew Carey.
"Whenever contestants put them down one side or the other, it doesn't work out. But if you drop it in the middle, you have the best chance of winning."
Sage advice? Considering Carey has been hosting the popular CBS game show since 2007, it is. The former sitcom star has watched so many audience members try and fail, it's pretty easy to see where adjustments can be made.
Certain games -- particularly ones involving suggested retail prices of goods -- are difficult, he says. "With this game called 'High/Low,' you have to be within $2 of the actual price. I don't think you could ever win that game. It seems to be the most impossible game in the world."
But guessing the price of a car? It takes a little common sense, he adds.
"People always think there's a '95' at the end of a price. They're used to seeing payment prices in the paper, so they think that's the car's price. It's really the payment price. So you can discount the '9,' the '5' and the 'zero' and that will give you a better chance of getting the right number."
Guessing the price of an item to get onstage, Carey says, requires another kind of strategy. "If the highest bid is $500 and you think the price is $2,000, you could say $1,000 but by saying $501, you're still going to win. But that only works if everyone else puts in a bad bid."
While contestants always want to go home the big winner, some are just glad they got to see the show. "Everybody tells me after they lose, 'At least I got to be on. At least I got to meet you,'" Carey recalls. "And I say, 'OK, if that's all you wanted.'"
Now beginning its 41st year, "The Price is Right" is one of the most successful television game shows because it cuts across all age groups. Everyone from pre-teens to senior citizens watches, insiders say.
Carey pegs it a little more specifically: "I always say that people who watch the show are either home from school, sick from school, staying home from work, in the hospital or a stoner."
He, too, was a fan before taking over the hosting job from Bob Barker. Initially, it took him a while to learn how to explain each of the games. "I stressed that I'd say the wrong thing. After I got over that feeling, I was fine."
He assured Barker he would always end the show with his "spay or neuter your pets" tag, then came to regret it after his audience was filled with moms-to-be. "I said, 'Hey, I know everybody here is pregnant and I just wanted to say from the bottom of my heart I hope all your babies turn out happy and healthy, have a real good pregnancy and, by the way, don't forget to spay and neuter your pets. Don't let this happen to your dog, for God's sake. And all the talk stopped when I was right in the middle of it."
Today, Carey says, "Price is Right" is one of the easiest jobs in the business. He loves its pace and the reaction it brings from fans.
A stage version is currently running in Las Vegas; a touring production will stop at Sioux City's Orpheum Theatre Sunday. "That's an extra way for (the production company) to make money," Carey says.
The mother ship -- the CBS edition -- is going so strong its retro sets and seating were redone last year. (The stage, too, is named in Barker's honor.) This year, a male model will join the cast and special "theme" shows have been planned. At least one new game is added each year.
Carey's faves? Golf and Plinko, he says.
The latter is one of the easiest games to play, he adds. And yet, one of the most memorable contestants was a man who only got one chip and still landed on zero.
"I felt so bad for this guy. I've never had anybody hit zero on Plinko before with one chip. That stands out."