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How to wager in Final Jeopardy!

September 2015: The fine folks at Jeopardy! asked me to put together an overview of wagering strategy. Click on the image below to check it out!

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As of November 24, 2014, Jeopardy! now resolves all ties with a tiebreaker question, rather than by naming the players co-champions and having them both return the next day.

Since my original tutorials were based on the concept of wagering for the tie, I needed to revise them. I devised a new method, as well. (Here is the archive of tutorials, the basics of which are still useful.)

Part One: Wagering for two players

Part Two: Wagering for three players
[coming soon]

Should I wager to tie?

The Final Wager calculator screencap

5 Comments
  1. Joe Vreeland permalink

    Win or lose, the second and third place position gets a nominal payout anyway. The winner is the only one who gets to keep the final tally. So, betting everything is the only smart answer. Those who try to win by $1 are wasting their money and the only possible chance of taking it all, by tossing it all into the ring.

    The minimum a you is $1000.00, and you’ve been on national tv.

  2. Michael Stuart Baskin permalink

    Here is a proper betting strategy for 3 players (when it’s NOT a runaway):

    1. The leader’s strategy is the simplest. He/she merely needs to have $1 more than the 2nd place contestant – he/she must assume they will bet everything. So his/her bet is: their amount minus 2X the 2nd total + $1. We’ve all seen this outcome many times.

    Now it gets interesting . . .

    2. The 2nd place person knows that is the best strategy of 1st place and that they can only win if he/she is wrong. Their strategy is more complex because they also need to consider what #3 is betting in the case he/she is correct. If #3 doubles, they need to have $1 more so they first use the same strategy of #1 relative to #3.

    Then they have to determine if that will also exceed #1’s total – if YES, then they’re done. If NO, then they need to bet enough to exceed #1. After they determine #1’s new total they subtract their current total and +$1.

    3. #3 knows those are the best strategies of #1 and #2 and that they both must be wrong for them to win, so he/she must figure out what they will wind up with, subtract their current total from the higher amount and +$1.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Jeopardy contestants are smart. But are they rational?: Backpacking Bear
  2. Final Jeopardy! wagering analysis: Friday, June 10, 2016 | The Final Wager
  3. Sports Jeopardy Champion! – Rabbi Howard Tilman

What do you think?