‘Jeopardy!’ Champ James Holzhauer Unsuccessful in WSOP Tournaments

Posted on: June 25, 2019, 08:15h. 

Last updated on: June 25, 2019, 08:15h.

Professional sports bettor James Holzhauer, the man who went on a Jeopardy! run this year by winning 32 straight games and $2,464,216, didn’t find the same success this week at the World Series of Poker (WSOP).

James Holzhauer Jeopardy! WSOP
James Holzhauer was eliminated from two WSOP events this week at the Rio in Las Vegas. (Image: Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Holzhauer played in the $1,500 buy-in Super Turbo Bounty No-Limit Hold’em event yesterday. After a strong start, the Jeopardy! champ was eliminated roughly six hours into the event.

Despite the “turbo” title of the WSOP event, it took eventual winner Jonas Lauck 15.5 hours to emerge victorious in the 1,867-player field. Holzhauer finished 454th.

The gameshow champ went all-in with pocket 7s when he was called by an opponent who held pocket 5s. A 5 dealt on the flop knocked Holzhauer out. “That’s poker,” Holzhauer told reporters.

The 35-year-old was also unsuccessful in the WSOP $1,000 buy-in Tag Team No-Limit Hold’em event on Monday with Poker Hall of Famer Mike Sexton. Holzhauer had planned to donate any winnings, but walked away empty handed. 

UIGEA and Sports Betting

Holzhauer previously played online poker semi-professionally while a student at the University of Illinois. He stopped when the federal government passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA).

I stopped playing online poker due to a combination of the UIGEA legislation and realizing that I could make more money with less effort by betting sports,” he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal this week. “Honestly, my poker skills are so rusty.”

UIGEA made it illegal for payment processors to facilitate financial transactions related to gambling websites for American citizens.

In April of 2011, the Department of Justice seized the domains of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker in what became known as online poker’s “Black Friday.” Federal officials alleged that the three popular poker platforms were in violation of UIGEA.

Instead of pursuing poker, following university where he obtained a BS in mathematics, Holzhauer relocated to Las Vegas to become a professional sports bettor. He also developed a fascination with gameshows, and appeared on The Chase and 500 Questions before Jeopardy!

Fan Favorite

Holzhauer’s near-record Jeopardy! run led to an 11 percent viewership bump for the daily show. It also made him a massive celebrity, and his ongoing charity work is only further heightening his reputation.

Holzhauer and his wife Melissa have given $10,000 to Communities in Schools of Nevada, and another $10,000 to Project 150 – a nonprofit that helps homeless and displaced high school students obtain food, clothing, hygienic necessities, and school supplies.

Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek says Holzhauer additionally gave $1,100 to a pancreatic cancer walk. The 78-year-old longtime host is currently battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He said last month that he’s in “near remission.”

Holzhauer’s streak on Jeopardy! helped give some credence to the notion that successful sports bettors aren’t simply gamblers – but educated individuals who can identify attractive odds.

DraftKings analyst Adam Levitan tweeted earlier this month, “Mainstream world now understands professional gambler isn’t code for scum. Can be humble, gracious, family-oriented, honorable and wicked smart. Great run.”