Jeopardy! genius James Holzhauer is continuing his winning streak and has now raked in more than $1.2 million in earnings.
The professional gambler celebrated his 16th win last night with a prize of $90,812.
It brings the 34-year-old’s total winnings so far to a whopping $1,225,987.
Holzhauer, a Las Vegas professional sports gambler, is only the second person in 35 years to win more than $1 million.
Host Alex Trebek believes Holzhauer has a chance of beating current record-holder Ken Jennings’ $2.5 million haul.
Holzhauer currently holds the eight highest individual-game totals.
It took Jennings 33 games to reach $1 million in 2004 and 74 games to earn $2.5 million.
Holzhauer has earned $1.06 million in just 14 appearances.
In racking up the wins, he has employed a novel – but risky – strategy befitting his day job in Las Vegas.
He frequently zeroes in on the high-value questions first to quickly amass money, and then unhesitatingly bets big on his ability to offer the correct answer when he lands on a special Daily Double question.
‘You could make an analogy to sports betting or poker tournaments,’ he told the New York Times this week.
‘There are big advantages to having a lot of chips early on in a poker tournament. You can make plays that other people can’t.’
‘Hitting a Daily Double on the first clue is nice, I guess, but you can do a lot more damage if you have $5,000 in front of you already.’
Holzhauer said he planned his strategy from the beginning, only deviating from it if the category is one he’s unfamiliar with – such as the US Senate.
‘You can see as soon as I get control of the board in the first game I’m going for the $1,000 clues whenever I have the opportunity,’ he added.
Holzhauer’s remarkable run has earned him legions of admirers, including Jennings, the man whose record he is threatening to break.
‘This is absolutely insane,’ Jennings said on Twitter of Holzhauer’s success.
This is absolutely insane. I've always wanted to see someone try Jeopardy! wagering this way who had the skills to back it up. https://t.co/PYj6MDsXjs
— Ken Jennings (@KenJennings) April 18, 2019
ESPN is covering Holzhauer’s episodes on its Chalk betting section.
Holzhauer credits his career with helping ‘desensitize’ him when it comes to making big bets.
‘The fact that I win and lose money all the time helps desensitize me, so I can write down $60,000 as the Final Jeopardy wager and not be trembling at the thought of losing that money,’ he said.
‘You have to be comfortable. Some of the opponents I’ve been playing, you can see they are visibly shaken by what’s going on onstage. You’re not going to play well if you’re up there trembling.’
‘And if you make yourself tremble by playing more aggressively than you are comfortable with, that’s so much the worse.’
‘Number one is making sure you’re in your comfort zone,’ he added. ‘My comfort zone is very different than the typical contestant. I think that’s a huge advantage for me.’
But Holzhauer said the biggest factor for his success is his strength with the buzzer.
And statistics show that Holzhauer is an unprecedented master at buzzing in first, according to Timanus.
‘Holzhauer successfully rang in first nearly 57 percent of the time through his first 14 wins,’ he added.
‘That’s a phenomenal percentage with two other competitors trying to do the same.’
Holzhauer trained hard for his Jeopardy! stint, building a replica of the show’s buzzer and playing along while watching the show at home.
‘Getting onto Jeopardy! was a pet project my whole life, so it was something I was willing to work really hard on,’ he said.
Holzhauer also read children’s books to help him gain knowledge on subjects that he wasn’t normally interested in.
‘I have a strategy of reading children’s books to gain knowledge. I’ve found that in an adult reference book, if it’s not a subject I’m interested in, I just can’t get into it,’ he revealed.
‘I was thinking, what is the place in the library I can go to to get books tailored to make things interesting for uninterested readers? Boom. The children’s section.’
Holzhauer now gets recognized on the street, but said he hopes his celebrity status remains low-key.
‘I’m still in my normal life now,’ he said. ‘If the right opportunity comes along, I would of course consider it.’
‘But if I get to the point where I can’t drive my own kid to class, then I think I’ve really screwed up. I want to not lose what makes me be me.’