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Why James Holzhauer’s $1,399 Final Jeopardy Bet Was Exactly Right

Jun 4, 2019  •  Post A Comment

“Jeopardy James” Holzhauer lost on an installment of the show where he made an uncharacteristically small bet on Final Jeopardy, but the size of his bet had nothing to do with why he lost.

He wound up just $58,484 short of the all-time winnings record held by Ken Jennings, who won 74 consecutive games in 2004. Holzhauer totaled $2,464,216 for his 33 appearances on the show, including the $2,000 prize he received for coming in second on Monday’s show.

His fate was pretty much sealed when Holzhauer went into Final Jeopardy trailing contestant Emma Boettcher. Holzhauer had $23,400 after Double Jeopardy, $3,200 less than Boettcher. The third-place contestant had $11,000 going into Final Jeopardy.

As it turned out, all three contestants got the Final Jeopardy question right.

Holzauer bet only $1,399 on Final Jeopardy, while Boettcher went big, betting $20,201. Holzhauer later explained his strategy to The Action Network.

“I knew I could only win if Emma missed Final Jeopardy, as there was no way she wouldn’t bet to cover my all-in bet,” Holzhauer said. “So my only concern was getting overtaken by third place, and I bet just enough to make sure of locking him out. Betting big would have looked good for the cameras, but now I turn my straight bet (Emma misses) into a parlay (Emma misses and I get it right).”

Boettcher ended up with a nice payday of $46,801, one dollar more than what Holzhauer would have totaled had he gone all in on Final Jeopardy.

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