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‘Jeopardy!’ Champ James Holzhauer’s Daily Double Dominance Is The Evolution Of Recent Strategy


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James Holzhauer passed the $1,000,000 mark in Jeopardy! winnings earlier this week, and after 16 consecutive wins, he shows no signs of slowing down.

The pro sports bettor has brought an aggressive wagering style never before seen on America’s favorite trivia show, and in the process he’s shattering records for single-day winnings and is on pace to break Ken Jennings’ incredible mark of over $2.5 million won (in just about half as many shows). Holzhauer has weaponized the Daily Doubles and Final Jeopardy to a comical degree, taking recent strategy employed by some great Jeopardy! champions and taking it to the Nth degree — a wagering strategy Jennings has admitted he wouldn’t have the “stomach” for.

Oliver Roeder of FiveThirtyEight recently looked at the history of Daily Double wagering and noticed that, on average, players are risking $200 more now than in 2001 (the first season with the upped dollar amounts for each answer) and also finding the Daily Double one clue earlier (16th of each round, rather than 17th). Holzhauer, as Roeder notes, takes this trend to a completely new level, as he wagers, on average, $9.879 (through the first 14 games) and finds clues faster.

It’s a fascinating look at Holzhauer’s aggression, and it also includes a map of where Daily Double clues are typically found — most often in the fourth row on the board. Holzhauer’s strategy of attacking Daily Doubles is far from a secret, but what he did tell Roeder is he has to be careful not to hunt them out too early, because finding them when he doesn’t have a big bankroll forces him to miss out on a significant money making opportunity.

“I’m definitely not the first player to aggressively attack the Daily Doubles, but I may be the first to consciously try and build a stack before hitting one,” he said, referring to his cash total during the game. “The Daily Double can only help you so much if you’re sitting on $1,000 or less.”

As for his latest conquest on Thursday, Holzhauer once again got all three Daily Doubles, wagering his full $6,600 amount on the first one and later making over $11,000 on each of the DD’s in the Double Jeopardy round. He also added over $35,000 to his total in Final Jeopardy, bringing his total for the day to $90,812 and his overall total to $1,225,987 over his 16-day conquest of Jeopardy!.

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