April 11, 2019

GAME THEORY FOR $100,000:

HOW A PROFESSIONAL GAMBLER BROKE JEOPARDY! (Brian Barrett, 4/09/19, wired)

Plenty of Jeopardy! champions have rung up six-figure payouts. But until James Holzhauer put up his $110,914 total on Tuesday, no one had done it in a single game. He did with with smarts, sure--but also with a nearly flawless command of Jeopardy! game theory.

The Jeopardy! board is arranged in a grid featuring 30 total clues across six categories. You'll often see players work their way through a single category, from easiest clue to hardest--and least to most valuable--before moving on to another column and repeating the process. That's one way to play, sure, in the same way that a light jog is one way to complete an Olympic steeplechase course.

Holzhauer does not jog. He blitzes the bottom of the board, where the hardest and most valuable clues reside. He staggers from category to category, stalking the invaluable so-called Daily Double clues that let players bet any portion of their winnings to that point. And he goes all in as often as he can.

"My approach isn't complicated: Get some money, hit the Daily Doubles, bet big, and hope I run hot," Holzhauer said in an email to WIRED. And if you think he sounds more like a gambler describing his craft than a gameshow contestant, that's no coincidence: Holzhauer, a Nevada resident, bets on sports for a living.

Posted by at April 11, 2019 6:34 PM

  

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