Skills at Gambling Helped Bag $2.3m, Says Jeopardy! Contestant

  • Jeopardy! contestant wins $2.3m on show
  • Winner puts luck down to his gambling skills
  • Sets record with 31-game win streak
  • Only one other Jeopardy! contestant has won more
James Holzhauer said his professional gambling skills helped him win $2.3m on Jeopardy!
James Holzhauer said his professional gambling skills helped him win $2.3m on Jeopardy!

Gambling skills helped

A Jeopardy! contestant and professional gambler has said that his luck at bagging more than $2.3m (£1.82m) on the show was down to his skills at gambling.

James Holzhauer rose to fame after setting a 2019 record on the show with his 31-game winning streak. As a result, the 34-year-old from Naperville, Illinois, won $2,382,583m (£1,885,254m) on the TV show, reports Fox News.

Speaking on a panel at the International Conference on Gambling and Risk Taking at Caesars Palace, Holzhauer said that his understanding of a professional gambler has always been positive.

“It’s an important time for sports gambling because it’s spreading to a lot more states now. If I can be a positive face for it, that would be really good.”

Even though Holzhauer states that luck played a vital role in his winnings, he also believes thinking like a gambler helped as well. “I’m thinking it’s 11,000 chips, not $11,000 you’re betting,” he said. “It’s a tournament, and you only see the money you actually win.”

Holzhauer is the second person to win more than $2m on the hit TV show. The other player, Ken Jennings, won more than $2.5m (£1.98m) after a 74-game winning streak. Holzhauer is keen to continue his winning ride, which he hopes will see him beating Jennings’ all-time best.

Turning to betting

Prior to becoming a professional sports gambler, Holzhauer spent plenty of his time playing poker online. In most cases, he would skip his classes at the University of Illinois to do so. He claims he learned a lot of life skills along the way and that it may have been more valuable than a college education.

Considered to be a maths genius, Holzhauer said on the panel that he eventually joined the MIT Blackjack Team to learn how to control emotions when the pressure was high.

“One of the things about betting $10,000 of your college tuition on one hand of blackjack, you would just think of a poker chip. They aren’t real money. They’re just toys. They’re just chips,” he said. “I’ve learned to think in terms of expectation, not necessarily what the actual value is.”

Applying to get on Jeopardy! since 2006, Holzhauer, who is married and has one child, was finally successful in his attempts this year.

Not all it seems to be

Of course, while this is one situation where gambling and luck have decided to work together, it’s not always the case.

This is evident by the large sums of money that people lose by gambling at casinos or through apps on their phone. Yet, it may be that in the Jeopardy! case, which has received plenty of publicity, it will push more people to try their hand at gambling when they might not know anything about it or the high stakes involved.

It’s hoped that Holzhauer will use this time to warn people on the risks involved with gambling instead of just focusing on how good he is at it, which helped contribute to his winnings.