James Holzhauer seems to be dealing with his tough loss on Jeopardy! extremely well. Holzhauer will be playing in the 2019 World Series of Poker.
Holzhauer will make his World Series of Poker debut on Monday afternoon in a $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em Super Turbo Bounty tournament at the Rio Convention Center in Las Vegas. He also plans to play in a $1,000 buy-in Tag Team No-Limit Hold’em event with Poker Hall of Famer Mike Sexton. Holzhauer said he plans to donate half of his winnings to a Las Vegas charity that assists homeless teenagers.
“I decided to enter because Mike Sexton contacted me and offered to sponsor my buy-ins,” Holzhauer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I don’t have any plans to enter another WSOP event beyond those two,” Holzhauer told thein an email. “I played online poker semi-professionally in the early 2000s, but I don’t intend to make a career of it now, as I’m sure I wouldn’t be good enough at it to justify forgoing other opportunities.”
Holzhauer used to play online poker semi-professionally in the early 2000s, but then moved on to professional sports betting because the government started to crackdown on online poker in 2011. He said he hasn’t played poker seriously in eight years, but joked that he “majored in poker” when he was a student of University of Illinois.
“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,” James said. “Honestly, my poker skills are so rusty that my main goal is to get lucky.”
Poker star Ben Yu says Holzhauer said Holzhauer is one of the smartest people he’s ever met. “In poker, the smartest people are probably like Scott Seiver, Isaac Haxton — [Holzhauer’s] right up there with them for sure,” Yu said. “He has a phenomenal gambling mind. We do a lot of sports betting work together, share a lot of information. He’s definitely someone I look up to.”
Holzhauer joked Yu encouraged him to play in the 2019 WSOP so that he could easily take his money. “Ben Yu is a close friend, but he has bigger fish to fry right now than teaching me how to play cards,” he said. “Other friends have encouraged me to play in the Series, but I think they might just be hoping to get more dead money in the field.”
Holzhauer isn’t entirely joking because Yu, who went to Stanford University, has appeared at 11 World Series of Poker final tables.
Holzhauer went on to become a worldwide phenomenon with his historic run on Jeopardy!. Holzhauer won 32 consecutive games on Jeopardy!, where he won more than $2.4 million. In Holzhauer’s 33 games, he earned $2,464,216, coming up just short of Ken Jennings’s record earnings total of $2,520,700 in 74 appearances.
The 34-year-old Holzhauer recently donated over $1,000 in the name of Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek from a pancreatic cancer walk in his hometown of Naperville, Illinois. On the donation, Holzhauer wrote, “For Alex Trebek and all the other survivors.”
Alex Trebek, who turns 79-years-old next month, was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer on March 6, 2019. In May, Trebek said his body had responded exceptionally well to the treatment and some of the tumors had shrunk to half their previously observed size.