James Holzhauer Nears $1 Million In ‘Jeopardy!’ Prize Money, He Talks His Gambling Strategy And Ken Jennings Weighs In

'Jeopardy!' contestant sets new single-game cash winnings record


Jeopardy! contestant James Holzhauer continues to bulldoze over the quote-unquote competition. On Monday night, Holzhaur did what he does best — dominate. He won $90,812, which puts his Jeopardy! prize money near $1 million.

Holzhauer is a 29-year-old professional sports gambler who has blown away all competitors in his 13 days of complete and total annihilation. He set the single-show prize money record by snatching $131,127 in winnings and has a grand total of $942,738. If Holzhauer continues at this breakneck pace he is on track to topple the records held by Jeopardy! legend Ken Jennings.

In 2004, Jennings won 74 straight games and set the all-time prize money for the game show by winning $2,520,700. Holzhauer is on par to do the same feat by end of May, which will only take him about 40 games. The highest amount Jennings ever won in a game was $75,000.

Holzhauer now owns six of the highest prize money winning Jeopardy! episodes of all-time. Check out a head-to-head statistical comparison of Holzhauer and Jennings on Jeopardy Fan website.

Jennings gave an interview to Wired where he said he’s “just gobsmacked by James.” “It’s absolutely insane what he’s doing,” Jennings said. “Like, I thought I had seen everything on Jeopardy!. And this is something I would have thought was just impossible, these numbers.”

“Statistically, he’s playing at as high a level as anyone who’s ever played the game,” Jennings added. “And then he’s got these incredibly confident wagers. He’s maximizing money. He can make two or three times what any other player ever has with that same level of play, which again is top-shelf. He’s as good as anybody.”

Jennings gave Jeopardy! players his advice on to even think about beating the current champion. “The main thing is not to take yourself out of the game,” Jennings advised. He added that intimidation is a huge source of power for a returning champ. “That’s a huge part of the streak: People thinking, ‘Well, I can’t beat this guy.’ It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Jennings said he looks forward to playing against Holzhauer in a future tournament and that the tournament format poses problems to “go big or go home” champion. “In a tournament scenario, James loses some of his edge,” Jennings said. “He can’t take a lot of money off the board and put his competitors out of commission before the first commercial. So that’s not a strategy you can count on anymore.”

Last week, Holzhauer appeared on The Dan Patrick Show and he talked about his strategy. He said his best trivia category is football. Holzhauer’s strategy is to hit the highest value boxes first to gain a financial advantage so that he can have “as much money when the Daily Double comes up” so that he “can bet big when the Daily Double is there.”

“You need to pick your spots and bet big when you identify them,” Holzhauer told NPR. “That’s basically my Jeopardy strategy in a nutshell.” He has answered 29 of 32 Daily Doubles correctly, making $281,150.

Holzhauer, who has a degree in math from the University of Illinois, has also had success in implementing the “Forrest Bounce” strategy where the contestant jumps around from category to category in an attempt to throw off their opponents.

“All good professional gamblers are selectively aggressive. You need to pick your spots and bet big when you identify them,” Holzhauer said. “That’s basically my Jeopardy strategy in a nutshell.”

Holzhauer, who was a Las Vegas professional sports bettor, said he would “love to have the chance for a head-to-head death match” against Ken Jennings.