James Holzhauer didn’t “throw” JEOPARDY! game

J-Archive wagering calculator says he did it right

To no one’s surprise, I was happy to see Emma Boettcher, a user experience librarian from Chicago, Illinois beat James Holzhauer, a professional sports gambler from Las Vegas, Nevada (whose 32-day cash winnings total $2,462,216) Monday on JEOPARDY! If you want to see that game, watch it here, only through June 7, 2019.

I am bemused by all these recent fans who decided that he “threw” the game because he was homesick or tired of playing. Some thought his style was “blah”, but that was a function, I think, of good competitors, including Jay Sexton, a senior research engineer from Atlanta, Georgia.

James hit the Daily Double on the first clue, thus was unable to forge a large enough lead at the end of the first round. Then, in the Double JEOPARDY! round, Emma, not James, hit the first Daily Double, bet it all, and took control. She also hit the second Daily Double, won $3000, and never relinquished her lead.

Was he tired? Maybe. But it would have been the first game of the week – they generally tape five shows in one day.

James explains his Final JEOPARDY! wager. If you go to the J-Archive wagering calculator, here are the recommendations:
James: “Try wagering $1,399, which is as much as you can put up against Emma without being usurped by a doubled score on the part of Jay.”
Emma: “Wager $20,201 to cover James.”
And that’s exactly what each of them did. James wagered based on what his score was in the game. He knew he would lose if she got it right so he bet small in case they both got it wrong and Jay got it right.

Usually James had an insurmountable lead in a game, which allowed his massive bets. Still, James’ Coryat score, his score if all wagering is disregarded, was $23,400, with 25 right, and 0 wrong answers. Emma’s was $18,800 (21-0), and Jay’s was $11,000 (13-1).

I am disappointed that the CBS Evening News did a spoiler, as did other outlets. But it’s hard to keep a secret for something that happened in March with 250 people present.

in any case, James Holzhauer will be back for the Tournament of Champions in November.

Addendum from friend Carol:

James Holzhauer on JEOPARDY!

Some people get really upset if you don’t love what they love

James HolzhauerI was at a work conference. A long-time work friend asked me about James Holzhauer, the 22-day JEOPARDY! champion, and counting, who has pretty much destroyed the competition.

Before I could give my opinion, She says, “Boring! Right?” And I agreed.

I was wary about answering because SO many people have expressed a different viewpoint. That is fine by me, but sometimes it’s not fine by them. I say it’s not interesting. They say, “That’s your opinion!” Of course, it’s my opinion.

I say, “It’s like watching a 15-4 baseball game or 62-7 football game.” They say, “I hate football,” which is rather not the point. It is watching contestant after contestant going through a meat grinder.

I’ve freely noted that Holzhauer is doing something that no one else has done. A million dollars in 14 games; it took Ken Jennings twice as long to reach that threshold. He’s rightly made the mainstream news.

He knows a lot, but he also beats people on the buzzer, because his opponents often think they know the answer and can’t get in. And he bets HEAVILY because betting is what he does for a living – professional sports gambler.

Still, it’s like why people HATED the New York Yankees after they won five World Series in a row in 1949-1953. Many of the games are like the Yankees playing a Little League team.

So people are SHOCKED that I don’t particularly enjoy the games. I could just write it off as Arthur’s Law, but I think there’s a more specific thing here.

Mark Evanier has engaged in a series called Cranky, Rambling Rant. Part One was “about how some people get really upset if you don’t love what they love.” Part Two was “about how some people (including probably most of the same ones) get really upset when you do love something they don’t love.”

I’m experiencing Part One a lot. In most cases, they’re asking ME because I was once – OK, twice – on JEOPARDY! But I’ve been watching the show for a long time, back when Art Fleming was hosting back in the 1960s.

There was a long period when no one could appear on the regular show more than five games. For all sorts of geeky reasons, having to do with the quality of Tournament of Champion winners, I thought that was a good rule.

The rule won’t return, I don’t think, because more people are watching when James Holzhauer or Arthur Chu or Austin Rogers is on. Some folks, regular JEOPARDY! watchers, have told me they won’t watch it again until Holzhauer is gone, but I expect they’re in the minority.

I’ll still tune in because that’s what I do. But I’ll enjoy seeing new champions.

April rambling: the triumph of zealots

If every episode is a blowout in which two of three contestants are basically never competitive, does that not grow uninteresting over time?

Women and the Resurrection
Women and the Resurrection cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward
Read the redacted Mueller report here OR here.

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Deconstructed: A Migrant’s Journey and refugees to America brought in $63 billion more in government revenues than they cost in the last 10 years.

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Selling the Soul of Franklin Graham.

How Sovereign Citizens Helped Swindle $1 Billion From the Government They Disavow.

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“I’ve lived long enough to see the triumph of zealots and absolutists, to watch money swallow politics, to witness the rise of the corporate state. See the party of working and poor people become a sycophant of crony capitalism.

Watch the union of church and state become fashionable again. Witness the coupling of news and entertainment. See everyday people cast overboard as the pirates and predators of Wall Street seized the ship of state. I didn’t drift; I moved left just by standing still.”

  • Bill Moyers, from an interview at The Progressive in 2014.

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Neil Gaiman on Jack Kirby.

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MUSIC

Wayfaring Stranger – Rhiannon Giddens.

My World is Empty Without You/Maneater – Hall and Oates and The Supremes.

Hail Mary, Gentle Woman – Jamie Biller.

Coverville 1258: Cover Stories for Indigo Girls, Dave Edmunds and Dusty Springfield.

The Grande symphonie funebre et triomphale – Hector Berlioz.

O Mio Babbino Caro Darci (Italian Opera) – Darcy Lynne and Petunia.

Triumphal March from Aida – Verdi.

Greg Burgas: The Unsung – the weirder end of the Phil Collins musical spectrum.

K-Chuck Radio: The many branches of Bruce Channel’s one-hit wonder.

Jupiter from The Planets – Gustav Holst – Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Sh-Boom – Sh-Pony.

Guitarist J. Geils Dead at 71.

Top Ten Most Worthless Records, and I own half of them.

“Here’s the host of JEOPARDY!, Alex Trebek!”

While I’m sure Alex Trebek had agreed to the special venue across the country, I think it took him a while to warm up to the change in his rhythm

Alex Trebek
Alex Trebek, Boston, 1998
Some arithmetic guy, and others, have asked me to write about Alex Trebek, in light of his recent diagnosis of Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

I’ve noted in the past that my JEOPARDY! viewing goes back to the 1960s, watching Art Fleming host the weekday show on NBC-TV. When the show returned in 1984, I was fine with the new host, Alex Trebek. I had seen him on a couple games shows, notably High Rollers. Given the fact that I was annoyed by the amount of luck involved in the play, that’s high praise.

When I was on JEOPARDY!, it represented a unique set of circumstances. It was recorded in September 1998 at the Wang Theater in Boston, the first time the regular show took place outside the Los Angeles-area studios. The Massachusetts city was very excited, and expressed in its stories the ‘appropriateness” of the show being recorded there, with all the smart people from Harvard, MIT, et al.

While I’m sure Trebek had agreed to the special venue across the country, I think it took him a while to warm up to the change in his rhythm. For one thing, he had to talk to the press quite a bit: the Boston Globe – in which my picture appeared!- and the Christian Science Monitor, for two.

Alex Trebek quite often says that the reason he likes doing JEOPARDY! is that he enjoys being around smart people. During a lengthy sitting around period for the contestants, we contestants got to watch, though not hear, him being interviewed. You could see on his face and in his body language when he was asked a question he thought was stupid and/or obvious.

Trebek was also reportedly annoyed by how difficult it was to get into the hotel that he and the contestants stayed in. There was a fundraiser for some Democratic candidates there, and Bill Clinton was among a wealth of politicians, reportedly including Vice-President Al Gore, and US Senator Ted Kennedy.
jeop

Of course, no one got close to that entrance. Earlier that day, there were massive protests and counter-protests regarding special prosecutor Ken Starr’s probes into Clinton’s behavior.

So it’s in that context that I can try to explain what happened on stage while I was getting a picture with Alex Trebek – he did the rabbit-ears thing on me. I knew it at the time because I could see him doing so in a monitor. Why me? Maybe because, at 45, I was the oldest contestant.

Weeks later, though, I got my photo from being on JEOPARDY! and it’s me alone. I will admit that I was quite disappointed at the time, but I’ve mostly let it go. Still, after hearing the frightening diagnosis, I felt melancholy. I wish I had my paired picture with who The New Republic in November 2014 referred to as The Last King of the American Middlebrow.

Watch these JEOPARDY!-related scenes:
Groundhog Day
Golden Girls
White Men Can’t Jump

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MUSIC

The Dunning-Kruger Song, from The Incompetence Opera

Why -Tracy Chapman (Live 1990)

SO CUTE – Aubrey Logan

I Wanna Be a Lifeguard – Scud Lightning

(Gimme Some of That) Ol’ Atonal Music – Merle Hazard

No or No – Twice

The Ball Game – Sister Wynona Carr

Take On Me – Weezer

Coverville 1250: Cover Stories for Robert Palmer and Bobby Brown and 1251: Gerry Goffin Cover Story and 1252: The Chinese Zodiac of Cover Songs

One Hundred Ways – James Ingram

Night and Day – Marc Hunter

Oh, Man – Jain

Orpheus in the Underworld overture – Jacques Offenbach

Theme from The Muppet Show, a cappella rendition – Mr Dooves

You Won’t Bring Me Down – Sina

Private Eyes – Sleeping At Last

Black Velvet Band – Irish Rovers

B.E.R. – The Night Begins To Shine

Chuck Miller: The times that I met Peter Tork