Pro Gambler James Holzhauer Continues Jeopardy Domination

James Holzhauer Vegas Gambler Jeopardy

James Holzhauer now owns the Top 6 single-day win totals in Jeopardy! history.

Professional gambler James Holzhauer continues to dominate the Jeopardy! game show. After 13 winning shows, Holzhauer’s winnings stand at $942,738 or an $75,518 per show. He now sits behind Ken Jennings as the 2nd all-time money winner in Jeopardy history.

The remarkable thing about James Holzhauer’s run on Jeopardy is the amount of winnings he collects per show. Already, he’s set the single-game record for winnings twice. In his 4th victory, Holzhauer won $110,914 in a single show. The next week, he surpassed the mark with a $131,127 total.

He uses the controversial “Forrest Bounce” method when picking questions. The bounce method means he bounces around the game board, leaving his opponent’s off-balance. Also, he often starts at the bottom of the game board, where the answers are worth more money.

It makes sense. By starting at the bottom of the board, a player wins 5x the money they would by starting at the top. When the Daily Double questions come, the player can wager more money on the outcome, thus swelling their prize total. As Holzhauer states, “You need a decent-sized bankroll to bet for profit, which is why I start at the bottom of the board.”

Risks of the Forrest Bounce

The strategy brings with its certain risks. Each category has 5 questions (answers*), with the questions at the bottom of the board harder than those at the top. Category headings can be vague at times, so those who start at the top get clues about what they might face at the bottom. Holzhauer wades into the hardest questions first, but his knowledge of trivia makes the strategy work.

“Just Gobsmacked by James”

That is the key to James Holzhauer’s record-breaking stint: his ability to answer questions consistently. Ken Jennings, the all-time money leader, said as much in a recent tweet: “This is absolutely insane. I’ve always wanted to see someone try Jeopardy! wagering this way who had the skills to back it up.”

Jennings told Wired he is “just gobsmacked by James”, and he’s rooting for the professional Las Vegas sports bettor to break his 15-year streak. Ken Jennings built a 74-game winning streak on Jeopardy in 2004, eventually collecting more than $2.5 million during his run. His average winning total was over $31,000 per show.

34 Wins Breaks the Record (At This Pace)

That average total pales in comparison to James Holzhauer’s total. If he continues at this pace, Holzhauer could break Ken Jennings’ all-time record in less than half as many shows (34). Of course, Holzhauer’s strategy is a risky one; if he misses a couple of questions at the wrong time, his streak could come to an end quickly.

For his part, Ken Jennings hopes to see Holzhauer break the record. It’s good for Jeopardy to have “the next great champion”. Ken Jennings summed it up, saying, “As a fan of the show, I’m actually rooting for James or anybody who can take a swing at that record. It’s bizarre to me that it’s still a one-off.”

Brad Rutter

Brad Rutter owns the record for the most winnings in game show history, along with the most winnings on Jeopardy!. Rutter won those totals in special events Jeopardy! Ultimate Tournament of Champions (2005) and the Battle of the Decades (2014).

Originally, Brad Rutter’s winnings in standard Jeopardy shows was much smaller than Ken Jennings’, because Rutter starred in a time that champions’ runs ended after 5 days — whether they continued winning or not. Ken Jennings was the first great champion after Jeopardy changed the rules to allow winners to continue until defeat.

Since then, no Jeopardy winners besides Ken Jennings has won more than 20 games in a row. James Holzhauer has a serious chance to get past the 20-win mark and break Jennings’ record.

*Note: Yes, we know it’s actually answers and not questions. Those who don’t watch Jeopardy! would be hopelessly confused if we switched the term ‘questions’ with ‘answers’ and vice versa, so we refer to them as we would in a generic trivia game. Jeopardy viewers know what we mean.