Pro sports bettor-turned-trivia phenom James Holzhauer scored another dominant victory in the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions semifinals Tuesday, putting him into the two-night tournament final on Thursday and Friday.
The win sets up a rematch with Emma Boettcher, the Chicago librarian who ended his run of 32 consecutive wins in regular Jeopardy play earlier this year, just short of the all-time money record.
Final Jeopardy Stumps Championship Field
Boettcher won her semifinal on Monday. She and Holzhauer will play against the winner of Wednesday’s final semifinal matchup in the two-night finale.
Tuesday’s match saw Holzhauer once again head into Final Jeopardy with a commanding lead over his opponents, Rachel Lindgren and Steven Grade. Holzhauer had $30,466 heading into the final question of the night, while Grade had just $11,400, and Lindgren sat at $7,200.
That made Final Jeopardy only a formality, as Holzhauer would not bet enough to allow either of his opponents an opportunity to win the game. That was fortunate, as none of the three players were able to correctly respond to the final clue, which confusingly read as follows:
“In 2018, Forbes said this ‘Belt’s Demographic Delight is’ this other ‘Belt’s Demographic Dilemma”
The correct response was “What are ‘Sun’ and ‘Rust,’ referring to the two “belts” in question. Holzhauer came close to providing the correct response, but crossed out “Sun” and replaced it with “Bible.”
Overall on the night, Holzhauer answered 27 of 28 questions correctly over the first two rounds, according to statistics provided by TheJeopardyFan.com. The game marked only the second time in 35 games that he had missed the Final Jeopardy clue.
Holzhauer, Boettcher Await Third Finalist
Holzhauer now has the opportunity to avenge his only career loss, which came at the hands of Boettcher. Her win on Monday wasn’t quite as dominant, as she had only a $4,400 lead over Kyle Jones heading into Final Jeopardy. However, she nailed the Final Jeopardy question to put away the match and secure her position in the final.
Ever since Holzhauer lost to Boettcher, there has been a small but loud contingent of Jeopardy fans that have claimed that either Holzhauer must have let her win, or that the match was somehow fixed against him. Those same accusations floated around Twitter after Boettcher’s win on Monday, with some suggesting Jeopardy was trying to set up a finals rematch to drive ratings.
Holzhauer has been perhaps the loudest voice rejecting these conspiracy theories, and used Boettcher’s success so far in the Tournament of Champions to strike back at trolls who don’t want to give Boettcher the credit she deserves.
“James must have lost on purpose”
“Emma just got lucky”
“She didn’t deserve a spot in the ToC” pic.twitter.com/Eg8Pgix8hl
— James Holzhauer (@James_Holzhauer) November 12, 2019
One more finalist is yet to be determined. The contestants in Wednesday’s semifinal include Francois Barcomb – who put up the third-highest Tournament of Champions quarterfinal score of all-time in the first round – Gilbert Collins, and Lindsey Shultz, with only the winner reaching the two-night final.
Jeopardy! Futures Betting Taken Off Board?
Online betting site BetOnline listed Holzhauer as a -200 favorite to win the Jeopardy Tournament of Champions before results from the first semifinal round were known.
Odds favoring Jeopardy James were -500 just last week. At the time, betting against Holzhauer to win was paying +250, but by Sunday anti-Holzhauer bets were paying only +100.
No more Jeopardy prop bets appeared to be available at the time of this writing, likely due to the fact that Tuesday’s semifinal had aired in some markets but not others.
Jeopardy regular season and TOC episodes are recorded weeks in advance of broadcast, and contestants and audience members sign non-disclosure agreements to prevent sharing spoilers.
Some online betting sites that previously offered futures betting on Jeopardy results, such as Bovada, for example, did not post any betting lines for the 2019 Tournament of Champions.