Thursday April 11, 2019 at 7:04 pm

James Holzhauer set the single-game record on Jeopardy! this week with a score worth $110,914. Holzhauer, a professional sportsbettor from Las Vegas, plays an unorthodox style. He bounced around the board to effectively hunt Daily Doubles and went all-in to double up whenever he had the opportunity. Purists might loathe his aggressive hunting methods, but he's made quite the name for himself in a short time. Holzhauer banked over $244,000 in only four matches and he rocketed into the Top 10 in all-time Jeopardy! winnings.

hholzhauerJeopBigScore

Ship it to James Holzhauer! The Las Vegas sportsbettor let everyone in the world (at least, people who watch Jeopardy!) that he's not afraid to "go big or go home" when it comes to betting on useless trivia. Holzhauer put together a little game theory, a lot of risk assessment, and mental toughness together to set the single-game record on Jeopardy! for nearly $111K. He smashed the previous record by $34,000.

In his first three matches, James Holzhauer won over $133K including a $50K score. He set the record in his fourth match with $111K. He won over $244K, but the $111K in a single game is a piece of mastery. It's like watching Tiger Woods shoot a 65 at Augusta National during the Masters. Or watching Led Zeppelin rock out at Madison Square Garden in 1977. Or watching that famous meme'd chef sprinkle Himalayan salt on a slab of steak. Breathtaking. Stupendous.

Jeopardy! is a game that everyone has seen. Some folks watch it religiously, while others will watch it whenever nothing else is on. If you have a weird knack for remembering useless things, then Jeopardy! is always fun to watch. If you happen to be an expert or aficionado in another area, you get super excited with a chance to run the category by getting every question correct, while shouting out answers -- so sorry, questions -- from your couch.

Jeopardy! players tend to follow the same basic strategy. They pick the category they have the most knowledge in and select from top to bottom. The easier answers are at the top with the lower money totals, while the bigger prizes and harder questions are at the bottom rungs.

Each board has various Daily Double hidden among the questions. With a Daily Double, the player is allowed to bet whatever they want or all of their winnings to double it up. If you are losing late in the game, it's a chance to catch up to the front runner. If it's a hard category, sometimes players will wager a small amount. The true gamblers will risk a significant amount, if not their entire bankroll.

The DD tend to be somewhere near the bottom. If you go in sequence, you will have to clear the easier boxes first before you have a chance at finding the DDs.

There is no rule that says you must work from top to bottom, yet players tend to follow that strategy. It's more antiquated etiquette than anything else, but it's not the proper way to play according to the purists.

Experts will tell you there is added value in hunting for the Daily Doubles. That means avoiding the top boxes and going for the harder bottom ones. Players will employ this strategy late in the game of they are desperate and perhaps lost a significant amount wagering on the previous DD.

However, game theory suggests that you want to seek out the daily doubles before your opponents because you limit their ability to double up, while you enhance your chances of doing the same.

Chuck Forrest, who made heads spin back in the 1980s, developed a system called the "Forrest Bounce" in which he went hunting for the Daily Double while bouncing around categories.

Roger Craig previously held the single-game record worth $77,000, which he set back in 2010. Whenever Craig encountered a Daily Double, he risked his entire bankroll. That's how he jumped up to the high $70s.

James Holzhauer beat Craig's record by nearly $34K. And it wasn't even close. He only needed $4,500 to beat the record, but he risked over $38K during Final Jeopardy!

"All along that I wanted to break Roger Craig's one-game record and I did it," Holzhauer said.

Holzhauer wanted the final amount to be exactly $110,914. Why that exact amount? 11/09/14 is his daughter's date of birth. Awwwww! Adorable. And as Elky would say, "So siiiiiiiiiiick!"

In only four matches, Holzhauer won over $244K. Not too shabby, eh? He quickly jumped into the Top 10 in all-time Jeopardy! He's currently holding down the eighth spot.

Holzhauer still has a long way to go to beat Ken Jennings. Back in 2004, Jennings demolished everyone in his path as he ran off 74 consecutive victories for a score worth over $2.4 million. Wow. Those numbers are still staggering. He had to run good for months under immense pressure. Jennings is on the short list of potential replacements for Alex Trebek, who is suffering from stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

In 2015, poker pro Alex Jacob found himself as a contestant on Jeopardy! Jacob won six matches in a row. Jacob banked nearly $152K for his amazing knack for knowing a lot of random things.

Jacob credited being a poker pro gave him a supreme edge over his opponents. Non-gamblers do not have a certain detachment from money, which you must have to do in critical situations to enact optimal game theory. Non-poker players get their emotions involved with their decision making, especially during Daily Doubles, which is why the average contestant plays too passive and too conservative.

But Jacob was not done after his six-win rush. He returned in 2016 and won the Tournament of Champions for a $250,000 score. Jacob won over $400K on Jeopardy! I wonder if that's on his Hendon Mob profile?

Now, all we have to do is launch a social media campaign to Kevin Mathers on Jeopardy! If he can study it up and employ the Forrest Bounce with Holzhauer precision, perhaps @KevMath can win some serious dough.

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Tuesday June 11, 2019 at 4:40 am
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