‘Jeopardy!’ Champion James Holzhauer Says He’s Not Trying To ‘Play Dirty’ With His Winning Strategy


James Holzhauer is all over the place these days, and for good reason. The new owner of the highest score total in Jeopardy! history now holds the top five win totals ever, and he’s completely dominating the trivia show in a way no one, not even 74-day champion Ken Jennings, ever has.

To celebrate, the pro sports gambler from Las Vegas has been just about everywhere. Holzhauer popped up at a Las Vegas Golden Knights playoff game on Sunday and has been interviewed by a number of different media outlets, but his interview with former Sports Jeopardy! host Dan Patrick was perhaps the most illuminating.

Holzhauer appeared on Patrick’s radio show and had a lot to say about his strategy, what his favorite categories are and whether he’s scaring his opponents off the stage.

In the interview, Holzhauer described how he “barely attended classes” at the University of Illinois and instead played online poker, earning enough to start gambling on sports full-time.

“I stepped away from sports betting for a few years when I met my wife,” Holzhauer said. “I tried to start a family and it kind of became a pet project of money. I always wanted to go on Jeopardy! since I was a kid, but I decided to really step it up and take it seriously during that time.”

He then relayed his strategy, which he’s done to a number of media outlets in the slew of interviews he’s done since the records started falling on the weeknight game show.

“If I don’t know anything about a subject I go to the library and I check out the most basic-level book about the subject, the most basic-level children’s book about the subject,” Holzhauer said. “Filled with lots of pictures, really easy to read, and get to the basics of it. And really it gets you interested. That’s really the whole point of the children’s library — to get you interested in things you would never think of.”

Perhaps what’s most interesting is that Holzhauer often talks about Jeopardy! the same way gamblers talk about gambling because the strategy is very similar.

“I want to have as much money when the Daily Double comes up,” he said. “I want to bet big when the Daily Double comes up. You obviously can’t do that without a stack of chips already.”

Patrick asked if he’s trying to intimidate his opponents, and he flatly denied his blitz is intended to make anyone afraid of playing him.

“Oh goodness, no,” Holzhauer said. “If they’re intimidated, that’s a side effect. But I’m not trying to play dirty or anything, it’s just what I feel is the best strategy for the game.”

Still, it’s hard to imagine feeling very good about playing against Holzhauer knowing what he’s already done in just 12 episodes on the show. This is the way Monday’s episode, his 13th appearance, started.

“This guy is obliterating Ken Jennings’ money totals and breaking the concept of a good day on the show. Anyway, good luck!”

Yeah, great.

On an unrelated note, Holzhauer won his 13th straight show after that introduction, getting all three Daily Doubles and Final Jeopardy for a total win of $90,812 for a 13-day total of $942,738.