‘Jeopardy James’ Holzhauer Avoided 1 Topic When it Came To Going For Big Bucks
James Holzhauer, now known as ‘Jeopardy James’ after his impressive run on the iconic game show, recently placed second to record-holder Ken Jennings in the “Greatest Of All Time” tournament earlier this year. When the professional gambler came close to beating the champ’s monetary total during his 33-game run last year, viewers were mesmerized by Holzhauer’s impressive knowledge on a host of topics.
Yet one subject in particular had Holzhauer shy away from his usually high wagers.
Host Alex Trebek dislikes a certain strategy of contestants
Legendary quiz master Alex Trebek has manned the Jeopardy board since 1984. Knowing better than anyone how the competition is played, the game show host revealed a certain strategy that he’d rather contestants not utilize.
“What bothers me is when contestants jump all over the board even after the Daily Doubles have been dealt with,” Trebek told Vulture in November 2018. “Why are they doing that? They’re doing themselves a disservice.”
While some players hope to hunt down the coveted Daily Doubles, Trebek sees this approach as counterproductive.
“When the show’s writers construct categories they do it so that there’s a flow in terms of difficulty,” the television personality explained, “and if you jump to the bottom of the category you may get a clue that would be easier to understand if you’d begun at the top of the category and saw how the clues worked.”
James Holzhauer is a true board-jumper
When Holzhauer was interviewed about his stint on Jeopardy, he revealed that the board-jumping strategy was exactly how he played.
“I definitely had the idea right away,” he told The New York Times in 2019. “You can see as soon as I get control of the board in the first game I’m going for the $1,000 clues whenever I have the opportunity.”
The professional sports better aimed to win as many high-ticket clues before hitting a Daily Double, and then going ‘all in.’ “Hitting a Daily Double on the first clue is nice I guess, but you can do a lot more damage if you have $5,000 in front of you already,” Holzhauer explained.
While the Jeopardy champ actively executed this style of playing, he acknowledged that it’s not for everyone.
“You have to be comfortable. Some of the opponents I’ve been playing, you can see they are visibly shaken by what’s going on onstage,” Holzhauer shared. “Of course, you’re not going to play well if you’re up there trembling. And if you make yourself tremble by playing more aggressively than you are comfortable with, that’s so much the worse.”
Not the ‘Jeopardy’ champ’s favorite category
While some may consider Holzhauer’s method of mastering the quiz board as too uncertain, he views it as the safer bet.
“The funny thing is, my strategy actually minimizes the risk of me losing a game,” he told The New York Times. “There’s times in a football game where a team goes for a big TD pass. If you don’t take a risk like that, you’re not going to win. Really, the big risk is never trying anything that looks like a big gamble.”
Yet there was one category where Holzhauer pulled back on his strategy. “I think the only time I ever deviated from it was a category about the U.S. Senate,” he revealed. “I’m not a politics guy, so I avoided that, but other than that I’m going $1,000-1,000-1,000 whenever I can.”
Apparently even Jeopardy champs have weaknesses!