James Holzhauer chases 'Jeopardy!' history

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7:19 p.m. ET, April 29, 2019

Holzhauer's strategy is called the "Forrest Bounce." Alex Trebek isn't a fan of the technique.

James Holzhauer is using the "Forrest Bounce" technique to win his way through "Jeopardy!"

How it works: The contestant jumps around from category to category, choosing tiles out of order to throw off his or her opponents.

Where it came from: Holzhauer is not the first to master the "Forrest Bounce." Previous contestants like Arthur Chu and Chuck Forrest (who the method is named after) have used it to both confuse opponents and rack up the most amount of money in a short span of time by starting from the bottom of each category, where the clues are hardest.

One thing to note: While effective if done right, it is not very popular among the show's staff, including host Alex Trebek, who has spoken out against the method.

Trebek argues that it disrupts the natural order of the show, which the writers work hard on preparing.

Reporting from CNN's Ramy Zabarah

7:14 p.m. ET, April 29, 2019

Why Holzhauer has such specific winning figures

"Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek noted that twice in James Holzhauer's 17-game winning streak, he had a winning total of $9,812.

There's a reason for the oddly specific figure.

"On Sept. 8 2012, I got married," Holzhauer explained.

7:08 p.m. ET, April 29, 2019

James Holzhauer hit the Daily Double on his first pick

James Holzhauer's hit a Daily Double on his first pick of the show — and he got it wrong.

This was the $1,000 clue (the category was Breaks and Livers): “The portal vein brings venous blood to the liver while this artery bring oxygenated arterial blood."

Holzhauer got the question wrong — meaning his score dropped to -$1,000. Trebek even joked that it's unusual to see Holzhauer in the red.

But note — it's only the first round.

7:02 p.m. ET, April 29, 2019

Meet the other contestants James Holzhauer will face tonight

James Holzhauer, a resident of Las Vegas and professional sports bettor, is hoping to continue his winning streak tonight on "Jeopardy!" (He's won $1,275,587in 17 episodes.)

Here's who he's playing against:

  • Jasmine Leonas, a social media specialist
  • Adam Levin, a sports information director
7:01 p.m. ET, April 29, 2019

This is "Jeopardy!": Tonight's episode just kicked off

Monday night's episode of "Jeopardy!" just started on the East Coast. This marks James Holzhauer's 18th episode.

So far he's won $1,275,587.

"Welcome everyone to the James Holzhauer show," host Alex Trebek joked at the show's start.

6:55 p.m. ET, April 29, 2019

5 impressive stats about Holzhauer's winning streak

James Holzhauer, a professional sports bettor, is on a 17-game winning streak, and tonight he's competing in his 18th game.

Here's what we know about his winning streak, according to the shows website:

  • $75,035: The average amount per episode he's won
  • $1,275,587: How much he's won during his entire winning steak
  • 97%: His response accuracy rate
  • 37: The number of Daily Doubles he's gotten correct (out of 40)
  • 94%: The percent of Final Jeopardy! questions he's gotten right
6:42 p.m. ET, April 29, 2019

What you need to know about "Jeopardy's" current record-holder, Ken Jennings

Jeopardy Productions via Getty Images
Jeopardy Productions via Getty Images

All eyes are glued on James Holzhauer as he chases "Jeopardy!" history.

But before Holzhauer can earn the highest winnings, he must beat Ken Jennings — the current-record holder.

Here's what we know about Jennings' winning streak:

  • Jennings earned more than $2.5 million during his 2004 run.
  • It took him 74 games.
  • The former software engineer was named as one of Barbara Walters' ten most fascinating people of the year, according to the game show's website.
  • He has written several books on a variety of topics, including trivia, geography, myths and more recently, comedy.
6:35 p.m. ET, April 29, 2019

This is the "Jeopardy!" strategy James Holzhauer has been using

James Holzhauer, a professional sports bettor and resident of Las Vegas, has been on a winning streak on "Jeopardy!"

His performance has entranced viewers and even drawn praise from "Jeopardy's" most famous contestant.

Holzhauer's winning strategy: Part of his success has come from his use of a controversial method known as the "Forrest Bounce," in which the contestant jumps around from category to category, choosing tiles out of order to throw off his or her opponents, as well as his willingness to go after the Daily Doubles and bet big.

Holzhauer told NPR that "All good professional gamblers are selectively aggressive."

"You need to pick your spots and bet big when you identify them," the contestant told NPR via email. "That's basically my 'Jeopardy!' strategy in a nutshell."

And of course, you need money to make money.

"You need a decent-sized bankroll to bet for profit, which is why I start at the bottom of the board," Holzhauer said.

6:29 p.m. ET, April 29, 2019

How James Holzhauer is gaming the board

The clues in "Jeopardy!" are written intentionally to flow from tile to tile in order of difficulty and increasing monetary value. So, contestants are generally encouraged to make their way down each category from top to bottom.

James Holzhauer, like some previous "Jeopardy!" champions, doesn't play this way.

The "Forrest Bounce"

He employs a controversial method known as the "Forrest Bounce," in which the contestant jumps around from category to category, choosing tiles out of order to throw off his or her opponents.

Holzhauer is not the first to master the "Forrest Bounce." Previous contestants like Arthur Chu and Chuck Forrest (who the method is named after) have used it to both confuse opponents and rack up the most amount of money in a short span of time by starting from the bottom of each category, where the clues are hardest.

The hunt for "Daily Doubles"

This method also allows contestants to jump around the board and hunt for the hidden Daily Double tiles, which give them the opportunity to wager winnings with the prospect of drastically increasing their score. This is where Holzhauer shines.

With the confidence normally required to intimidate opponents in a game of poker or blackjack, Holzhauer plays fast and with no hesitation. By jumping around swiftly from clue to clue, he confuses the other players, who often find it hard to keep up.

The large wagers

By the time Holzhauer lands on a Daily Double tile, Holzhauer is usually so far ahead of the other contestants he can wager enormous amounts of money, knowing he'd still be ahead if he loses the bet (he usually doesn't lose). By the final round, known as Final Jeopardy, Holzhauer has often already amassed more money than the average single-day haul, giving him a wide open opportunity to bet big and win big.