Sunday, 12 December 2010

If you're a quizzer of a certain age . . .

. . . would you mind if I ask you a question ? Did you (honestly) ever make any serious money out of playing quiz machines, back in the day ? I'll tell you why I ask this.

A couple of nights ago I was with a former colleague from work in a drinking establishment. Now, you know me well enough by now to know that I don't touch the hard stuff. In fact, if I'm honest I don't even go overboard on the soft stuff nowadays, but I digress. The fact is that its nice to sometimes get together as a group with former members of the gang who have gone on to pastures new, and a pub is as good a place as any to do it. Now, to cut a long story short, there was one of these new-fangled quiz machines in there , of the sort which gives you the choice of about several different TV based games to play. One of my colleagues called me over, and immediately expected me to win at least a £5 return on her £1 she'd shoved in the machine.

I don't know if you're the same, but I do find that sometimes my heart sinks on the rare occasion when I'm asked for an impromptu demonstration of my quiz credentials. With a non quizzing group you know you're on a hiding to nothing. If you succeed what you tend to get is - well of course you did. You won that show so I wouldn't epect anything less. - But if you don't. . . Which to be honest is what usually happens whenever anyone asks for my help on these machines. In my experience while the gameplay is fair, it is very difficult to get to the stage where you actually earn any money from playing them. OK - alright - this time it worked, and immediately we'd won the £5 she wanted I sat down and refused to give any more answers, mainly because I knew that if I did it would only be a short time before all of that fiver she'd just won went back into the machine, and heaven knows how much more besides.

As I sat down - ah , here come the point at last - as I sat down one of my friends made a comment along the lines of " I know a guy who reckons that he used to make a lot of money from playing the quiz machines. . . " You'll have heard this sort of thing before I'm sure. This leads me to my question.

You see the heyday of the quiz machine had really probably passed by the time my quiz career really started, and I never even saw a quiz machine in a pub for the first 2 years I was quizzing. I'm quite happy to come clean that the most money I ever made from playing a quiz machine was about £20 from a knackered old Dave Lee Travis Give Us A Break ( or whatever it was called ) machine in Llandeilo Rugby Club. Yet I too have met people who clam to have made frankly staggering amounts of cash from quiz machines in the mid-late 80s. One of them, a friend from Bridgend tells me that he used to go to Blackpool to play the machines and would easily make several hundred pounds on them in a single weekend. Alright, maybe this stretches credibility a little, but I have to say that he is not the kind of guy to lie about it.

So what I'm intrigued about , what I'm asking is how easy actually was it to make serious cash from these machines, and how widespread was it ? Did you yourself ever manage to supplement your income in this way, and if so, what do you think of the quiz machines that are around today ? Do you know of anyone who claims that they can make good money from playing quiz machines today ? I have my doubts, but its an interesting question. . .


Anonymous said...

When I worked at the police college in the mid 90s, there was a quiz machine in the bar there. I used to make my beer money for the week (somewhere from £20-50) every week. I just needed to keep an eye on how often it had been played to make sure it was ready to pay out when I played.

The current machines are far less ready to pay out. There are some quizzers who still play regularly and make a profit but I cannot say whether they make large sums of money nowadays.

Ben Dutton said...

When I used to go out clubbing a lot, I would always start my evening by going to a pub with a quiz machine. It paid for my night out each time, and a little bit beside. Like Chris, £20 - £50 a week. More pubs started getting them, and when I hosted in pubs that had them, we'd watch the punters fill it up, then me and the landlord would empty it as best as possible, often winning £30 each Tuesday. Then they got connected to the Interet, or had new questions bought round on dongle, and the questions became guessing games: I still remember being asked, just once, "What day of the week was Sir Isaac Newton born on?" I gave the machines up good then... now if I join friends in a few games on one, we rarely win more than we put in - £20 now and again - but they're designed to make money for the owner, not the quizzer.

Ben Dutton said...

Oh, and fyi, Isaac Newton was born on a Wednesdsay.

Londinius said...

Isaac Newton -
Born on a Wednesday
Apple on Thursday
Motion on Friday
Calculus Saturday
Catflap on Sunday
- Lot more clever than Solomon Grundy.

Thanks Chris and Ben,

I agree with your points about not playing them now Ben, and that the trouble is that sometimes the questions are so risibly constructed to stop you dead in your tracks. I don't mind not knowing answers when I think its a fair question, but your Isaac Newton one is a good example of a whatthehell, and I can't stand whatthehells.