Let's Make it a True Daily Double: Wagering to Win on Jeopardy!

Open Access
Birch, Paul
Area of Honors:
Risk Management
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Matthew Logan Reimherr, Thesis Supervisor
  • Ron Gebhardtsbauer, Honors Advisor
  • Jeopardy!
  • quiz show
  • wagering
  • simulation
  • game theory
  • strategy
The quiz show Jeopardy! is comprised of three rounds and 61 total questions. Hidden within the game board are three Daily Doubles, questions where players select a portion of their current game score to wager on their answer. Wagering behavior of top players indicates that Daily Doubles play a significant role in determining the outcome of Jeopardy! games, but there exists significant variation among players on how to approach these events. This thesis addresses the subject of how to wager on Daily Doubles in a way that best positions a player to win on Jeopardy!. First, this paper confirms that Daily Doubles play a critical role in Jeopardy! game results. Then, it develops a model that establishes a statistically optimal betting strategy for players at different points throughout gameplay by using simulation of game results. Finally, it generalizes the model’s results so that they can be used by players to boost their chances of winning on the show. This approach shifts the framework of Jeopardy! wagering from simple reliance on gut instinct to a method statistically designed to maximize the probability of winning.