Las Vegas Sport Bettor and Jeopardy! Phenom James Holzhauer Makes It 24 in a Row

Posted on: May 22, 2019, 12:28h. 

Last updated on: May 22, 2019, 12:28h.

Professional sports bettor turned record-smashing Jeopardy! phenomenon James Holzhauer booked his 24th consecutive win on the long-running game show Tuesday, taking his total winnings to an extraordinary $1,867,142.

James Holzhauer
James Holzhauer says his experiences as a professional gambler helped him formulate his unorthodox strategy. It’s a strategy that has allowed him to steamroll the competition on his 24-game Jeopardy! run. (Sony Pictures Television)

That’s the second largest winning streak ever in the show’s 55-year history — and by a long chalk. Holzhauer has surpassed the previously second-placed guy — computer scientist Roger Craig, who won $530,200 in 2015 — more than three times over.

Along the way he has broken various notable Jeopardy! records, armed only with a super-fast buzzer finger, a brain stuffed with facts, and an unconventional gambler’s strategy.

On April 9, the 34-year-old from Las Vegas set the single-game record when he won $131,127, beating his own record set a week previously. Holzhauer’s average daily winnings of $77,798 now surpass the previous single-game high of $77,000.

They’re so proud of him in Las Vegas that the Clark County Commission has presented him with the key to the Las Vegas Strip and named him a “goodwill ambassador” for the city.

That was three weeks ago, and he’s still going — and he looks like he may smash the $2 million barrier before the end of this week.

Holzhauer’s Secret

But he still has some way to go to catch all-time Jeopardy! megalord Ken Jennings, who won an incredible 74 games in a row back in 2004 for a total haul of $2,520,7000.

While Holzhauer still has over 50 games to go before overtaking Jennings, on current form he could surpass him on monetary terms within ten more wins.

In an interview with The New York Times last month, Holzhauer described how his career as a gambler had shaped his Jeopardy! strategy, which involves going for the highest-value clues first in the hope of hitting a Daily Double.

“You could make an analogy to sports betting or poker tournaments,” he said. “There are big advantages to having a lot of chips early on in a poker tournament. You can make plays that other people can’t.

“When I was just getting started in sports, I didn’t have a huge bankroll, and there were times when I would see a good betting opportunity and didn’t have enough to put down on it,” he added. “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.”

Jacob’s Ladder

Holzhauer is not the first professional gambler to make a splash on the show. In 2016, former United States Poker Champion Alex Jacob was crowned Jeopardy! Champion of Champions, winning the final after enjoying a six-game streak.

Jacobs picked up around $250,000 in total by employing a strategy known as the “Forrest Bounce,” developed decades ago by former champion Chuck Forrest.

The technique involves “bouncing” around from topic to topic rather than sticking with the ones you know, and again selecting high value clues wherever possible.