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July 2, 2014

Daily analysis, Wednesday, July 2

A double feature tonight — with a thunderstorm to boot.The Final Wager - July 2, 2014

Let’s start with the Penultimate Wager available to Howard. It’s on the bottom row in what appears to be a weak category for him.

Penultimate Wager July 2, 2014

This is an easy one.

First, Howard wants to take the lead, so he’ll need to wager at least 3,000.

He also wants to place himself in one of the magic ratios we discussed in Part Two: 1/2, 2/3, 3/4. That first choice is the most obvious, and, in fact, the only one that works here.

Half of Christi’s score is 7,500, so Howard needs to wager 4,500.

There is another option: he can wager at least 10,500 to be in first ahead of Christi in excess of the 2/3 break point (here’s my explanation of break points). This would force Christi to answer Final correctly to have a shot — assuming he’s correct on this Daily Double, which seems unlikely, given his performance to this point.

Penultimate Wager 2 July 2, 2014

Come on, dude! Oh, well — now we’ve got our regular old Final Wager to break apart.

Howard Ray: 9,000
Matthew Harney: 3,800
Christi Esterle: 15,000

The Final Jeopardy! category: U.S. GEOGRAPHY

Basic strategy – first vs. second

Christi should wager 3,000.

Howard needs to respond correctly and wager at least 3,000; he might as well wager everything.

Basic strategy – second vs. third

Howard will wager at least 3,000, so were I Matthew, I would wager 2,201 to get above him if I’m right and he’s wrong.

What actually happened

I feel bad for Matthew; he probably should be taking second place here.

The Final Jeopardy! clue for July 2, 2014 (U.S. GEOGRAPHY):


Correct response: Show


  1. Mark permalink

    Keith… thanks for the work and analysis you do on ‘The Final Analysis’. I am having trouble understanding tonight’s ‘penultimate wager’, though. You, Golf, and others on the jeopardy discussion board are very unhappy with the $3000 wager, and I don’t see why.

    I THINK I understand the $4500 preferred wager… but are you saying he should bet this and then miss it on purpose, therefore forcing the 50% situation? Considering the complaints about wagering know-how, it’s certainly not a sure thing that the leader would bet zero in that situation.

    I like the $3000 bet… on the assumption that if he gets it right, the leaders would both bet zero. Maybe unwarranted, but it seems more likely that with the 50% situation. If he misses it, isn’t he better off than with the $4500 bet??

    If I’m off-base here, let me know and I will think about it some more…. Thanks…, Mark

    • Hi Mark,

      Thanks for your comment! Let me try to break this down a bit.

      There are some circumstances in which the trailer should tank the Penultimate Wager – namely, when he can’t safely catch or pass the leader, and he can drop to a “wager-to-tie” scenario, preferably 1/2.

      This is not one of those cases; if Howard gets it right, he’ll take the lead with 16,500. Having the lead is the main goal.

      Now let’s assume, as you suggested, that Christi were to make an irrational wager (say, 500) should Howard have exactly half her score. The only way Howard will win is if (1) he responds correctly and (2) Christi misses.

      This is exactly the same combination required for him to win with 9,000 – and here, there’s at least some chance she’ll wager zero and remove that second criterion from the equation.

      Also, if you doubt your opponent will wager zero with a lock-tie (double the second-place score), what makes you think she’ll be rational in a tie for first? :)

      I hope that makes sense – let me know if anything needs further clarity.


      • Mark permalink

        I guess I don’t agree that having the lead is the main goal. I would think that winning (or tying) the game, going on to play another day, would normally be the main goal.

        Let me put it this way…. which would you prefer among these three situations, going into FJ. In all three cases, assume that the 3rd place competitor is not a factor (as is the situation today (7/2/14).
        1) Tied for first with 10,000 each.
        2) First place in 10,000, you (in second place) with 5,000
        3) Your 2nd place opponent with 10,000, you in first with 10,001

        I would prefer # 1, assuming you both would bet zero to assure a 10,000 payoff and both competing again the next day.
        In case # 2, and assuming first place would bet zero, I would prefer this situation next…
        you tie for first and advance if you get FJ correct. (if you assume FJ get rate>50%)
        Case # 3 is a bit of a toss-up — I’m not sure that being in the lead is a huge advantage here…
        what is your recommendation for each player to wager in this situation? and I understand it depends a lot on your comfort level with the category.

        In answer to your last question…. I think the average player would recognize be more likely to recognize the probability of advancing another day with a tied situation going into FJ, than they would be to recognize the 50% … but that seems to depart from a mathematical situation more into a psychological (?) area.

        Thanks again…. Mark

  2. Mark permalink

    and I guess I might ask again… assuming YOU were playing Christi’s podium today, should Howard bet $4500 on the penultimate DD, AND PURPOSELY MISS IT, even it he knows the correct answer??

    • Absolutely not. Whether he gets the Daily Double right or wrong, he’s going to have to get Final right to win.

      If he’s in the lead, he’ll come out with a much higher total ($30,000 or $30,001).

  3. Mark permalink

    ok… maybe that wasn’t the best question…. I think what I’m asking is… if you were Christi in that situation… would you bet zero on FJ?

  4. Mark permalink

    ok again… I think I know the answer to that (yes?) . Let me analyze it a little more…. Mark

What do you think?