How James Holzhauer Broke Jeopardy – Cheddar Explains

How James Holzhauer Broke Jeopardy – Cheddar Explains

[MUSIC] This is Jeopardy.
And this is James Holzhauer. [MUSIC]
What is Black Jack Pershing?
Who is Mario? What is Greece?
Who is David Cameron? What is tho Lusitania?
He’s a contestant on the show who is currently on an unprecedented win streak.
He’s destroying his opponents and winning a bunch of money in the process.
As of May 21st, 2019,
he holds the record for the most money won in a single game,
as well as the record for the other nine spots in the top 10.
He trails only all-time Jeopardy great Ken Jennings in most wins and total winnings.
His current pace has him set to overtake Ken Jennings’
$2.5 million in earnings in half as many games.
But what makes his run so extraordinary is his high-octane play style.
What is My Fair Lady Godiva?
What are toads?
What is granola bar mitzvah?
Yes. [APPLAUSE] James Holzhauer,
a great player and a nice guy.
Here’s a breakdown of how James’ strategy has made him so
successful and what it’s gonna take to beat him.
[MUSIC] I called up former Jeopardy champion Fritz Holznagel,
author of Secrets of the Buzzer.
I don’t know if we can see this very well or not.
It’s an e-book that teaches techniques to master
the Jeopardy buzzer to get some insights into James Holzhauer game.
He’s put all facets of the game together in a way that nobody else ever quite has.
From the beginning, James totally flips how the game is supposed to be played literally.
James, where do we start?
World of sport, a thousand.
He starts from the bottom of the board.
The Jeopardy board is comprised of
six columns of clues that increase in value from top to bottom.
This is intentional.
When you go on the show,
Jeopardy staff tells you,
“We prefer it if you start at the top and work your way down
to the harder questions,” partly because it’s easier for the people at home,
ah, but also because there may be clues
in these- the top ones that will help you answer the ones further down.
But James works the bottom of the board from the beginning of the round,
choosing the high dollar questions from different categories seemingly at random.
This looks a lot like the notorious Jeopardy strategy known as the Forrest bounce.
The strategy is named after Jeopardy champion Chuck Forrest,
who threw his opponents off balance by moving randomly around the board,
disrupting the natural rhythm of the game by denying
other players the opportunity to work through the categories.
But James isn’t moving around the board to psych out his opponents.
He’s on the hunt for something.
Lesser known names, 12.
And so there is the daily double. [APPLAUSE]
He’s trying to gather money up and then you know- and then find the daily double.
James Holzhauer is a professional gambler,
and you can see it in his gameplay.
He views the Jeopardy board as a grid of wagers
of where these daily doubles are most likely to be hiding.
His strategy isn’t about beating his opponents.
It’s about maximizing his winnings.
On its face, the goal of Jeopardy is to be the most knowledgeable player in the game.
That’s been its draw for the past 35 years.
Players and viewers at home could put their retention and recall skills to the test.
The amount of money won wasn’t really important,
as long as it was more than your opponents.
But with the rise of data mining and analytics,
new strategies have emerged to maximize the amount of money a contestant can win.
Online fan websites like J Archive and The Jeopardy Fan have cataloged
every single game and every single question since Jeopardy began.
Players have taken this information and mapped out
where daily doubles are most likely to be hiding.
They most often appear near the bottom, in the fourth row.
FiveThirtyEight has found that over the past 20 years,
daily doubles had been uncovered around the 16th or 17th clue.
But through his first 13 games,
James has hit the daily double around clue 12.
By starting at the bottom, James can uncover these high value clues early
while simultaneously collecting large sums of money from the bottom of the board.
He is one of the first people that kind of realized that if you aggressively
pile up money and at the same time hunt for those daily doubles,
then you’re gonna have a big edge.
But to execute this strategy,
James has to control the board.
James is buzzing in first 59 percent of the time.
That’s way more than the 33 percent random chance a Jeopardy contestant normally has.
This is where Fritz Holznagel’s buzzer technique comes in,
a technique that James has plugged in interviews.
I read an e-book called Secrets of the Buzzer,
go check Amazon, that had a lot of helpful advice.
Contestants can only buzz in after Alex Trebek
finishes reading the clue and a light above the scoreboard turns on.
Only the players, ah, in the studio can see it.
People at home can’t see it.
Ken Jennings tried to time his buzzes by
anticipating Trebek saying the last syllable of a clue.
But this can be difficult and dangerous.
It’s very hard to tell when he is officially ending a word.
Like when he says kick,
he will say kick-kah, kick-kah.
If a player jumps the gun and buzzes too early,
their buzzer is locked out for a quarter of a second.
A quarter of a second can be a lifetime in Jeopardy.
Fritz realized shaving off fractions of a second
to your reaction time could be a huge advantage.
He timed himself using a series of different buzzer techniques to find the fastest.
You know, you can hold your hand this way or you can kind of hold your hand that way.
Poise it over the desk,
over the podium and then when the light goes on,
[NOISE] ram it down.
He discovered that most contestants waste time by aggressively pressing the buzzer.
And when they buzz, you can kind of see ’em swinging their arm.
That whole time that you’re swinging your arm, you’re losing time.
But James just looks like he’s standing there with his arms crossed.
And that’s, ah, precisely the- the,
ah, suggestion I make in the book.
James is limiting unnecessary movement by gripping the buzzer
at waist level and bracing his buzzer hand with his free hand.
Fritz claims this technique could reduce buzzer reaction time by half,
from about 268 to 126 milliseconds.
It also has the added benefit of comfort,
helping the player remain relaxed while
the other competitors frantically spam the buzzer.
You can see that in their hand motions,
strangling at it or look like they wou- would like
to strangle it and you can understand why.
Coz he’s, coz he’s so fast.
His control of the board essentially neutralizes his opponents.
But what catapults James’ earnings into
the stratosphere is the huge wagers he makes on daily doubles.
Eleven thousand nine fourteen.
According to FiveThirtyEight, a typical daily double wager is just under $2,500.
Ken Jennings averaged slightly higher around $2,900.
But James Holzhauer is betting an average of $9,200.
Most people have not bet at all on daily doubles.
He knows that he’s got
seven in 10 or eight in 10 chance of answering any individual daily doubles,
so he should be betting it all.
He’s earning almost twice as much on daily doubles
alone than his opponents earned throughout the course of an entire game.
James has been on lock to win the game
90 percent of the time going into the final Jeopardy round.
He has such a sizable lead that his opponents have no chance in overtaking him.
He capitalizes on this by betting even more money.
He’s so far ahead that he can make large wagers without
the fear of losing if he gets the final Jeopardy question wrong.
And he rarely gets them wrong.
For all the high level trivia talent Jeopardy has seen over the years,
James has been exceptional at correctly answering daily double and Final Jeopardy clues.
His whole strategy wouldn’t work if James didn’t have the trivia chops to back it up.
Beating James Holzhauer is going to be tough mainly because
the only player that seems capable of beating James is James.
James has admitted that the most likely scenario that will end his run is him missing
one of those high wager daily doubles and another player jumping out ahead of him.
But to fend off James,
that player would have to play the same high stakes
aggressive play style to build an unassailable lead.
James’ aggressive style in wild success could set
a new precedent for how Jeopardy is meant to be played.
Yeah. I do think he’s changing the way the game is gonna be played in the future.
More people are gonna play more aggre- aggressive game,
start at the bottom a lot more,
and bet a lot more on daily doubles.
What do you think of James Holzhauer playstyle?
Is it fun to watch or is it ruining the game of Jeopardy?
Let us know in the comments below,
and like and subscribe for more chat or deep dives and breakdowns.
And make sure you hit that little bell to turn on notifications
so you know exactly when we drop new videos.

100 thoughts on “How James Holzhauer Broke Jeopardy – Cheddar Explains”

  1. Next we are going to go for it on fourth down in the nfl no matter what like we do in Madden. Can’t wait till they realize the Madden way can give you an advantage over teams that should beat you . Let’s go

  2. His play will make the game better where there is more wagering and higher winnings. I watched this video after he lost, didn't seem like he was in the game, and his bet on finally Jeopardy was not like him. Thinking he didn't want to be the all time money winner or it was time to go home.

  3. 0.126 seconds is an absurdly fast reaction time. It's a little easier because they can anticipate when the question will end but that's still really good

  4. UPDATE::::
    And gave her a high five 🖐
    And didn’t break Ken Jennings record

  5. Honestly it shocks me that this approach to the game has never been done before, or has never been done before successfully. It doesn't shock me he's a Poker player. Go for the money first THEN poof suddenly it becomes more difficult if not impossible to catch up for everyone else because YOU got the big numbers, they didn't.

  6. James' run has been fun to watch however, analytics seems to have taken over here. Can the producers/writers overcome this new player strategy? Stay tuned….

  7. I had kind of lost interest in Jeopardy until James came along. Watching him is very exciting and I think future players will likely emulate aspects of his style of play.

  8. He threw the game in my opinion, he didn’t bet enough to win if the leader bet ZERO! Somebody check Vegas to see if he put any bet on losing. Hmmm?

  9. I don't know about changing forever. Austin Rogers' strategy was mostly "go from the middle down, then do the top. People followed that for a while, but eventually drifted back to top down, which the show recommends to minimize payouts. We'll see some bottom-up for a while, but things will drift back to normal.

  10. I really enjoy watching his strategy unfold and the high dollar amounts are cool to see, but I really hope other people don't just copy him and make this the standard strategy because it's kind of hard to follow at home

  11. thanks Cheddar this was a nice video well explaining what is happening and why it is happening/how it is possible etc.
    For someone who knows the show but never watched it actively (most of my knowledge coming from remarks in TV shows and Weird Al's "I lost on Jeopardy") you did a great job of explaining it

  12. It's fun to watch. I'm an 80 yr old girl. I don't have time to watch boring shows. I loved this run of energy and knowledge the showed up with James. I also think he probably has a bit of a photographic memory. I've always wondered why more people didn't jump on the high dollar clues first. Makes so much sense. I've seem a couple other contestants try it too. They got criticized too, but it's smart. I still don't really understand why he bet so low on final Jeopardy, on that last game. I know what he said, but still don't get it. I was really surprised when I saw it. I wondered if he was getting tired of the game, and felt he could bow out with a great opponent.

  13. Fake fake fake, and OH BTW, Alex has recovered from Stage 4 pancreatic cancer too. Bwahahahahahahahahahaa

  14. The first time I saw james I knew he was going to win but I didn't know he was going to have a long streak

  15. I miss James so much. I'm glad I didn't see the game when he was defeated – I would have cried. But his nemesis Emma Boettcher truly was no match for him in the grand scheme of things as she only racked up 97K in 3 games – James won 131K in a single game. He sure has changed the way future contestants will approach the game, but there will only every be ONE "Jeopardy!" James! Can't wait to see him in the tournament of champions in November.

  16. James knew what he was doing when he lost,he knew when to fold them.To much money is danger danger danger,he has a good family to watch out for.Jeopardy is not the same any more.I just scan jeopardy now.

  17. This is amazing! I never thought how crucial the buzzer press was either… it reminds me totally of (personal sports analogy incoming) being a receiver in American Football how crucial it is to take the first step forward and not lean back on your foot before you launch cause that takes extra milliseconds from your release

  18. He is well educated/read. He deserves every dime he wins. People should quit whinning. Pick up a book and learn something. Maybe you may be on Jepordy some day!

  19. I think that nearly all his opponents also started/continued with the high value questions (bottom up). They should have went in the usual direction to confuse and distract poor James. One time, near the end of James' run, he got the DD on the first answer reveal. kinda backfired on him.

  20. I wish people would stop calling Jennings the highest Jeopardy! earner – he's not. It's Brad Rutter, thanks to Tournament of Champions victories (one in which he won $1,000,000 and the All-Star in which he won split $1,000,000 three ways) which push him past Jennings. Jennings has the longest winning streak and the longest accumulated earnings from single-game victories, but not the all-time record for Jeopardy! winnings.

  21. I must admit I had a mixed reaction to James Holzhauer's approach to the game; for there were days it looked as thou he was playing against a cage of gerbils or hamsters. But I was hoping for him to surpass the previous all time winner, because it's been a long time. The only game that was more exciting was with Watson. When Jame's lost, it looked as thou he was out of the zone, as if he had something else on his mind. And then within a week the game went back to its old approach.

  22. He needs to play in a game again Ken Jennings and the Super Computer. Slow the Computer to whatever that theory he explained of how to beat him.

  23. For those people who don’t watch Jeopardy, what’s the problem here? Are they stuck having him on the show until he loses or something?

  24. I'm so happy to finally see this cocky guy lose. It's funny how Americans are so impressed with people who don't work for a living but make a lot of money. Somewhere down the line Americans believe that net worth equals self-worth. No wonder most people are on various medications and are obese. Alex Trebek is really boring as well. This show should be cancelled. Let's Make a Deal was more exciting than this garbage…… What do you think about my comments?

  25. Am I seriously the only person who has noticed the little MICROPHONE poking out of the neck hole on his shirt?

  26. Huh, the bottom to top approach is pretty common whenever you have those elementary school “jeopardy” style quizzes. I wonder why it’s common for kids and not for adults playing for real.

  27. He didn't break the game. He isn't the first person to start at the bottom of categories. What made him special was that he is obviously very knowledgeable and ballsy as hell. I say ballsy because of how often he bid everything on a daily double. That's really risky and all it would have taken was a wrong answer on multiple occasions for his streak to end because he wouldn't have been able to make back enough money in some cases to make it a game. That's the flaw in his game.

  28. First, this man is without a doubt highly knowledgeable and has lightening fast memory recall. This isn’t something many people tend to see on a regular basis and is very impressive.

    Second, his analytical approach to gameplay is nearly unheard of. As students who play school versions know….the outcome of the game is always best when working up from the bottom of the board.

    Third, his understanding of probability in regards to the placement of Daily Doubles on the board, his precise use of the buzzer, and his dauntless attitude with pressing the buzzer without hesitation is truly amazing.

    In the nearly thirty-six years Jeopardy has been on-air, no one has played in this fashion. He seems to be the first contestant to utilize this specific “pinpoint” strategy. I agree that he has likely set a new precedent in how this game will be played in future episodes.

    The only way he could be more memorable would be if he were like Charles Ingram who won the top prize on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire by being fed correct answers by coughing, Herb Stemple and Charles Van Doren from Twenty-One who were being coached and given the correct answers, or Rodney Alcala who appeared on The Dating Game in 1978……who was ultimately identified as a rapist and “active” serial killer from 1968 to 1979 with the number of victims being between eight and one hundred and thirty. Let’s hope he isn’t added to that list! 😂🤣😂

  29. Usually these type of stories end up with some type of Fraud case about five years later… Hopefully not…

  30. James studied the game and obviously knows all the answers. Looks /Acts like a Jeopardy Champ. So was Ken. I Love the big runs when somebody is "on it". The best will be to see who beats him…. Still best game show Ever….

  31. The producers are pissed. Starting from the top and going to the bottom is how it’s supposed to be played. I know they give a speech to jeopardy contestants saying to start from the top and go down

  32. I feel like they’re gonna make you only go from top to bottom if this starts a trend. Older people watching it hate it

  33. so it takes a book to teach this special buzzing technique 🙂 ? I think i got it from 1 minute of video…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *