Last updated on: May 11th, 2023

Famous Sports Bettors: James “Jeopardy” Holzhauer Bio

Looking into the life of James Holzhauer, it is clear to see that large wagers and confidence are all part of the game. Holzhauer is most notably known for his time spent on the show Jeopardy! in 2019, where he dominated opponents and set a variety of records. However, he was known in smaller circles before this throughout Las Vegas sportsbooks from his professional life as a sports gambler. Raised in Naperville, Illinois, Holzhauer used his advanced understanding of mathematics to beat the books in a few different ways. Being that he is a mathematician, he has managed to work his way up to a $2 million net worth.

Starting off in college running poker sites for some commission, Holzhauer turned a few dollars into the fortune he has created today, thanks to some outlandish wagers that paid out majorly. Holzhauer has explained that it takes the utmost confidence and mindset to enter into bigger bets without the fear of losing. Whether he is taking a futures bet or studying the details for live betting, Holzhauer is always on alert, looking for any opportunity to take advantage of the odds presented.

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Understanding Math And Stats With James Holzhauer

Numbers are the biggest thing when it comes to betting and Holzhauer is very good with numbers and mathematics. The math skills are what helps Holzahauer with his betting on sports. Studying fifth-grade math at the age of seven shows that Holzhauer was very smart at a young age and knew how to crunch numbers. With a Bachelor’s degree in math, this is what he leans on when it comes to betting on sports. To be able to have a special gift of being very good at math only enhances betting plays and winning opportunities and this is where Holzhauer separates himself.

James’ Intro To Sports Betting

When Holzhauer never attained the front-office position with the Chicago Cubs which he so desperately wanted, he turned his focus full time to legal sports betting. During his collegiate years, he played poker and operated poker strategy sites that would refer players to sign up, giving him a piece of commission with every user. The money he made from the card games turned into his bankroll moving forward.

Holzhauer started right out of the gates when he turned 21. Betting on 2006 World Baseball Classic as well as two large futures bets, he was able to turn these three situations into the beginning of his decades-long gambling profession. Jeopardy James won a +4000 bet on Ryan Howard to win the home run title and found even better success with the Tigers winning the AL Pennant at +10000. Now, Holzhauer focuses on handicapping games but shopping lines is his biggest asset, according to the Jeopardy champion.

Holzhauer’s Wagering Style

Shopping lines is paramount according to James and you can find much success by simply doing your research. When it comes to the betting board discrepancies, there isn’t a true desire to know which side will win, because you can play both sides. Also known as middling, Holzhauer has expressed that one site may offer a team -4.5 while the opposite team on a different site may be listed at +6. Finding these disparities can have bettors lose just the vigorish or win both for a much larger prize. According to the numbers, if you can successfully land a middle wager one of twenty times, you will make a profit.

When it comes to football and the NFL, Holzhauer loves futures bets. He typically only bets on teams that have secured a 1st round bye in the playoffs, as the probability to move into the Super Bowl are much greater, according to Holzhauer. Again, the most important aspect is to shop around and find out who is offering the best price on the same matchup, but he sees futures bets as a way to lay your money down and hedge later on.

In-game betting is a specialty of his, as live betting can make certain situations present themselves which you must take advantage of. Holzhauer has models that predict scores and outcomes but when it comes to live betting, looking at the numbers is simply the best way to go. Because of the limited time that bookmakers have to set the odds during these timeouts or commercial breaks, being able to recognize the patterns and capitalizing on lines or odds that are out of the pattern are vital to quickly placing your bet.

Holzhauer And Poker

Holzhauer also was intrigued by gambling outside of sports betting, competing in the World Series of Poker in 2019. He ended up finishing in 454th place, which meant he was out of the money, but still did better than about 1400 other competitors. His poker career has been far less lucrative than his Jeopardy career, and seems to mostly be publicity based – he participated in a tag team poker tournament with Poker Hall Of Famer Mike Sexton, although he only won about $600 from that.

Jeopardy James And His Fame

While sports betting has treated Holzhauer well, it wasn’t until 2019 when he participated on Jeopardy! that he became a household name. He brought home nearly $2.5 million in 33 airings, which placed him as the third-highest Jeopardy! winner. By “flipping the board” and selecting all of the higher-priced questions first, Holzhauer was able to wager much higher amounts on the Daily Double questions, to which he nearly never got wrong. With his ability to confidently wager large amounts (and get the questions correct), viewers couldn’t help but love the passion and pragmatism that Holzhauer possessed.

After he lost on his 33rd showing, Holzhauer has donated thousands of dollars to charity in his name, in Alex Trebek’s name, and others. He has helped displaced teens through his donations, was awarded a key to the city in Las Vegas, and even contributed to his hometown’s pancreatic cancer research walk. Even after the show, Holzhauer never wanted to be the guy in the limelight. He has claimed not much in high life has changed since then and still bets on sports while being the best family man he can be to his wife and daughter.

Jeopardy! The Greatest Of All Time Tournament 2020

James Holzhauer was a contestant on the reboot of the special tournament known as “Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time” tournament in January 2020. The game show chose only the best players they’ve had on the show to compete and Holzhauer was one of them. He lost in the third round of the show on a $10,000 question that many sports bettors everywhere are still scratching their heads over. The question was: “This birthstone is in abrasives for polishing and grinding. The color pairs with gold as an official color for Florida State.” Rather than answer the obvious GARNET as in GARNET and GOLD, Holzhauer answered “Diamond” and lost. Not only did he lose at Jeopardy, but he also lost a lot of respect from his sports betting community and his fans after that.

Holzhauer And His Jeopardy Strategy

James Holzhauer had a strategy for his stints on Jeopardy and that was as a “board jumper.” This is when a player goes to various subjects across the board rather than sticking to just one. Host Alex Trebek has previously stated that he is not a fan of players that employ this strategy. But Holzhauer says that it’s the best way to play Jeopardy and win larger amounts of money before finally winning the entire game itself.

However, there has always been one subject that Holzhauer has shied away from when playing and that is the U.S. Senate question category or similar subjects. He has said he is not one for politics so he would jump to the $1,000 questions for every other area on the board. His strategy for Jeopardy worked well enough to make him a millionaire, winning almost $2.5 million combined, and at the end of the day it wasn’t a political question that took him down in the end but rather one about sports. How’s that for irony for a man with a history in sports betting?

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