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Glossary and references

This is a supplement to the excellent glossary at J! Archive.

Fearful wager – a wager by the leader that fails to comply with Rule #1 (i.e., allows the trailer to overtake him) without offering any reasonable potential upside. Often takes the form of an unsafe wager. (Note that this is different from the J! Archive usage.)

Penultimate Wager – a Daily Double on the last clue of the Double Jeopardy! round. It allows the player in command of the board the ability to set himself up in an optimal wagering scenario going into Final Jeopardy!.

Safe wager – a wager under Rule #3 (covering a zero wager by the other) that falls within the range calculated by Rules #1 and #2.

Unsafe wager – for the leader, a wager so as not to fall below second’s pre-Final total. Often used as a hypothetical situation to restrict a trailer’s wagering range (if the trailer has at least 4/5 of the leader’s score). Also known as a “Colbyesque” or “Brakhagesque” wager.

Color key

Here’s the palette of colors I use when “grading” wagers.

Green The player made the best optimal wager (could be part of a range).
Orange The player made an “alternative” optimal wager – comes into play in mind-game situations.
Yellow The player was close to making an optimal wager, but could have done better (e.g., withheld a few dollars).
Pink The player made a “bad” wager.
Red The player made an excessively risky wager – e.g., one that gives a “locked-out” opponent a chance to win with no upside.
Gray The player doesn’t even give himself a chance to win. What a waste!
White A “Cliff Clavin” wager – one that puts a guaranteed victory (“lock”) at risk.

Note that the “gray” wager used to be colored black, and the “white” wager used to be colored black with gray lettering.

Academic papers

If you’re interested in the hard math behind several of my principles, here’s where to begin.

G. T. Gilbert and R. L. Hatcher (1994). Wagering in Final Jeopardy!. Mathematics Magazine 67 no. 4, 268-281.

A. Metrick (1995). A Natural Experiment in “Jeopardy!”. The American Economic Review 85 no. 1, 240-253.

T. S. Ferguson and C. Melolidakis (1997). Last round betting. Journal of Applied Probability 34 no. 4, 974-987.

G. Tesauro et al (2013). Analysis of Watson’s Strategies for Playing Jeopardy!. Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research 21, 205-251.

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