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Boston Rob reacts to Deal or No Deal Island copying penalty

Warning: This article contains spoilers about the Deal or No Deal Island season 1 finale. Boston Rob Mariano’s game technically ended on this week’s finale episode of Deal or No Deal Island when he was the last person to return with a briefcase out of the maze. But his game was really over the week before, when he made the fateful mistake of walking over and looking at Amy McCoy’s number puzzle answer. Host Joe Manganiello specifically instructed all the players before the excursion to not look at each other’s boards during the challenge, so when a stumped Mariano looked at Amy’s answer, play was halted and he was assessed a penalty of having to leave three minutes after the last player departed on the briefcase hunt. In the end, it was too much of a deficit to make up. Even though Rob got close, he was never able to pass Amy, and returned with the last case and therefore had to exit the game. How does Rob feel about his penalty? What happened during the incident that we did not see? And how did the entire cast — who reunited to cheer on eventual winner Jordan Fowler in her Temple showdown with Banker Howie Mandel — get along after the game once the cameras were off? We asked the Robfather all that and more. ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I’m sure they edited this all way down, so why don’t you tell me what happened out there with them stopping the game after you looked over at Amy’s answer to the number puzzle? BOSTON ROB MARIANO: I mean, it’s brutal. No shade, I definitely looked at the other person’s puzzle, and that’s it. I mean, I’m not going to sit here and make an excuse. Yes, when they edited it, it wasn’t as clean. Joe didn’t actually announce “You can’t look at the other person’s puzzle.” All that was done in the pre-walkthrough, just like on Survivor and on all the shows. And they have [the standards and practices department] there, they do the whole thing. I’ve done this for so many years that as soon as they start with that walkthrough, I’m trying to get a peek to see what kind of advantage I can get, what the puzzle’s going to be, what it looks like the challenge is going to be, and that’s it. They definitely did say, “You can’t look at the other person’s puzzle.” So I own it, dude, They also did say, “It’s up to you whether you want to cover your answer or put your tiles back,” which kind of threw me for a loop. Like if you can’t look at the puzzle, then why would I have to do that? Amy got it first. I was well on my way to getting it, then she got out and my first reaction was like, “Man, I don’t think she turned her tiles over. Let me go see.” And I go to look, and actually, she was turned around on her way out of the maze to turn her tiles over when they stopped it. So that was it. I looked at it, I got the penalty. I don’t know that the penalty was three minutes. The penalty, as I understood it, was from when the time when Amy went into the maze until the time the last person got to go into the maze was added on to the last person. So they made it look clean. It was three minutes, but I think it was, in effect, a little bit longer, closer to probably nine or 10 minutes. Ironically, in the moment where I got my hand caught in the cookie jar and they explained what the penalty was going to be, immediately my brain goes to: How can I negate it? So as soon as Joe says “Go!” I’m just going to tell Jordan and Stephanie the answer. So that way there’s no time. But I made mistake 101, where I actually asked production if I could do that, and they said, “No, no, no, don’t do that.” No, you never ask! I know. It would’ve been great TV. So I should have waited. It’s brutal, but it’s fair. It’s not Survivor. I’ve done it for 20 years there and I always think you’re crazy if you don’t look at the puzzle if the other person’s beating you, right? At the same time, that was the rule, and I broke the rule, so I accept the penalty. When I saw it happen, I thought to myself that had you never played Survivor and been trained to go look, that it you probably wouldn’t have done that. Yeah, look, it’s not an excuse. I had a great time out there. Of course, I wanted to win. It’s ironic that nobody actually took me out. I kind of caused my own demise, which, truthfully, hurts a little bit more. But I had such a great experience and it was so fun playing this game. It was so different than everything I’ve done before, and I’m really happy for Jordan. I am, truly. Did the punishment fit the crime? Well, I mean the punishment was longer than it was, but yeah, the punishment definitely fit the crime. Had I not said anything to the producer before, I think I could have negated it in a pretty smart way. I was really surprised that it took them as long as it did in the maze. Truthfully, I thought for sure they were going to be coming out before I even got a chance to go in. So when I saw Amy hopping over the barriers one way, and I’m going the other way, at one point I thought about how I should steal her suitcase and just go — that would’ve been good. But I could hear them celebrating that she had made it, just as I was unlocking my suitcase. How much did she end up beating you by coming out of the maze? I don’t know exactly, but I think it was probably around a minute. The whole challenge maybe lasted about 20 minutes. And like I said, it was a long time from the time Amy went in until the time I got to go in. I flew through the challenge. I really did. I think I made only one wrong turn the whole maze after looking at the map. It’s funny to hear you talking about trying to negate the penalty. It reminds me of The Amazing Race when you got all the other teams to take the two-hour food challenge penalty. And that was the thing — I didn’t ask them! I just did it. And I ran into that a few times. And this is no shade to production, they were awesome. And they did everything to preserve the integrity of the game, for sure. They always did. But because it’s the first season they’ve done a show, and I have so much experience that going into these things, my brain works a little bit differently where I try to find that edge and try to push it. And there were times where I would ask a question about something, but they made us ask it in front of the whole group and not individually, and by asking the question, it not only took away my advantage, but gave it to other people. One example where I know that worked against me big time within the challenge was where we had to drop the thing from the sky. They edited for time that it was a random draw, but it wasn’t actually. Kim got to go first because she had beat the Banker, and she chose me to go first because in the pre-game asking of questions, I said, “What happens if you’re the first to go and you hit the steal? Are you allowed to transfer it over till after everyone goes?” And he was like, “No, if you hit the steal first, you just don’t get it. You lose your turn and you have to go again. So you don’t get to steal from anyone. You’re the first one.” So immediately, Kim’s like, “Okay, Rob, you’re going first. I was like, “Ah, shut your mouth, dude.” You have a very good eye for game mechanics, and the game mechanics here seemed a bit broken to me in that when someone goes against the Banker, they tried to make it seem as if you want to take low numbers off the board, when, in actuality, you want to pick high numbers off the board because that means the odds of your deal will be much better. Did all the players sort of figure that out or not? Does the show need to tweak that moving forward into season 2? I don’t think the mechanic of the game is broken. I just think there’s a little bit of a conflict of interest in terms of what you’re trying to portray to the audience versus what that person in that position actually is beneficial for them. Because when you are the person playing against the Banker, your singular objective is to stay in the game. So you’re exactly right. You want to knock off high cases, with at least one high case remaining. But here’s the thing: If you’re math-based and you understand statistics, you’ll know that the advantage that you’re going to get playing the Banker at best is going to be maybe 80 percent. And at worst you’re going to have a 50 percent. You can always go down to two cases. So if you understand that, it basically makes the Deal or No Deal portion of the game pretty stagnant. You’re going to play it the way you’re going to play it. Now, in subsequent seasons, I’m sure they’ll change that. They’ll introduce some kind of strategy into that portion of the game so it’s not so basic. So I understand what you’re saying about what the audience wants and how it’s portrayed. There was a lot of animosity between a lot of people this season, so what was it like outside of the game after it was all done? Everybody was good, but I think a lot of it was unwarranted. Even the alliance-making, the whole thing. Some of the people — specifically Stephanie and Amy —got caught up in this idea that they thought they were playing Survivor. They thought that was the game. And probably the fact that I was out there lent to it a little bit. But it wasn’t necessary. You saw how many shots there were of me sitting on the beach hanging out, right? Because I’m like, it doesn’t matter! Make all the plans you want. If I do well and win immunity, you can’t get me anyway. And even if not, you got to get lucky and beat the Banker to be able to get me. This whole idea where everybody’s united against me, it gave me a little bit of the Charla and Mirna vibes from The Amazing Race from way back in that season where everybody’s coming at Amber and I. It’s like, “Man, focus on yourself. Why are you so focused on me?” And it didn’t matter so much. Also, there’s no repercussion for breaking your word to anybody. There’s no vote at the end. There’s no way for them to be accountable for whatever they do in the court of public opinion. The audience might not like it, but it’s not going to change the dynamic of gameplay. Sign up for Entertainment Weekly’s free daily newsletter to get breaking TV news, exclusive first looks, recaps, reviews, interviews with your favorite stars, and more. So I think optimally, as ironic as it is, playing the middle and floating kind of the way Jordan did was, effectively, the best strategy. Even though I recognized that early, I wasn’t able to play that strategy already coming in there with the target I had, so I feel like based on what I had to work with, I did the best I could, and I got really lucky in a lot of spots. And overall, just a spectacular experience. A lot of fun.

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