James Holzhauer has been on a tear through Jeopardy! over the last few weeks, blowing out opponents and adding large chunks to his already huge $1.3 million haul each day.
But one former contestant thinks that the professional sports gambler may be limited in how much longer he can continue on with the incredible winning streak.
Holzhauer has notched 18 consecutive victories, with his latest a nail biter in which he topped Brandeis University sports information director Adam Levin by just $18. To borrow sports terminology, Holzhauer was able to survive and advance to another day and a chance to top the all-time record of $2.52 million. But as The Atlantic reported, one former contestant thinks that Holzhauer will not be able to touch Jennings’ record of 74 consecutive wins.
Michael Day, who gained fame as the Jeopardy! contestant who forced a rule change for his aggressive buzzing strategy, wrote that Holzhauer appeared to have taken advantage of more recent rule changes that eliminated the upper limits on winnings and the five-game rule for winners. When these rules were in place, it made sense for the dominant players to wager less on the Daily Double so they would not risk a big loss, but Holzhauer has taken the opposite approach.
Holzhauer has used excellent timing on his buzzing in and keen knowledge of trivia to dominate the board, and couples it with huge risks on the Daily Doubles. As Day wrote, it will give Holzhauer bigger wins but likely means a shorter overall run than Jennings enjoyed.
“It seems like betting big on Daily Doubles—especially if you like the category—and risking a loss is what will maximize your expected winnings. You’ll likely have a shorter run, but you’ll win a lot more money per show,” wrote Day, who returned to Jeopardy! two more times, for the Tournament of Champions and Ultimate Tournament of Champions.
“Maybe it took a game-theory guy like Holzhauer to figure that out. With this strategy, I think he has a good shot at beating Jennings’s overall earnings, but I don’t see him winning anywhere near the 74 consecutive games Jennings won.”
James Holzhauer has now picked up his 18th consecutive win on "Jeopardy!".— FiveThirtyEight (@FiveThirtyEight) April 30, 2019
His total winnings so far add up to $1,329,604https://t.co/cTPvS28RUl
Even if James Holzhauer never tops Ken Jennings in consecutive wins, many already see him as the greatest Jeopardy! contestant of all time. In its analysis of his run, FiveThirtyEight noted that he has a roughly 15 percent chance of topping the win mark set by Jennings, but is well on pace to eclipse his total earnings — in less than half as many games.