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How James Holzhauer's gambler instincts factor into his Jeopardy! success

Screenshot: How James Holzhauer Broke Jeopardy (YouTube)

Current Jeopardy! champion James Holzhauer is breaking the game and it is so much fun to watch. Over the last month-and-a-half he’s shattered the record for most money won in a single game and is on track to beat Ken Jennings’ long-held records for most consecutive games won and most money won overall. Since he first appeared on the show, people have tried to figure out what makes Holzhauer so dominant, besides his obvious knowledge of trivia. A new video from Cheddar may provide the answers.

Previous Jeopardy! super champions have pretty much all used a technique that involves hunting for Daily Doubles, and Holzhauer is no different. Before he successfully lands on that coveted bonus square, however, Holzhauer prioritizes the mass accumulation of wealth by selecting clues from the bottom of the board first. Additionally, once he does manage to get a Daily Double, his gambler instincts kick in and he risks a large percentage of his total points, all but guaranteeing he’ll both beat his contestants and walk away with massive earnings.

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In order to do any of this, Cheddar notes, Holzhauer must first dominate the board. That’s where his buzzer technique comes into play. Using a technique learned from previous Jeopardy! champion Fritz Holznagel and his book Secrets Of The Buzzer, Holzhauer is able to conserve energy and jump on questions before his fellow contestants even know what hit them. Combine these techniques with Holzhauer’s wealth of trivia knowledge and you’ve got one unbeatable player. Long story short, get used to seeing this guy’s smiling face for a while.

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About the author

Dan Neilan

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Have Fun — Will Travel.