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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!


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

  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.

    • David Kay permalink

      Michael explained it correctly. I am amazed how many stupid wagers have cost a player a win. Joe Vreeland is wrong. Get the win then try to win more the next day.

  3. ddd permalink

    Joe what is wrong with u

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?