Jeopardy strategy question

I often don’t understand the wage strategy on the Daily Double clues. Today was a good example. There was about 1 category left in double jeopardy. The second place contestant had 12,000 and the first place contestant had about 20,000. So the second place contestant chose the DD and bet 3000 dollars. Why? Why not bet enough to at least get you close to the leader. The second place finisher doesn’t get to keep their money, right?


Well, the person in first place wouldn’t need to wager more than 4,001 in order to guarantee that if they got the question right that they would win.

If they wagered that amount and lost, that would leave them with 15,999.

So, in theory, as the second place person, I might wager 4,000 if I thought that the other person was likely to do that but also thought there was a possibility that the leader might wager more money out of overconfidence or error. The 4,000 would guarantee a win if they were right and the other person was wrong and the other person took that betting strategy, while still leaving a possibility to win if they were both wrong.

On the other hand, betting 8,001 or more might be a better strategy if you thought that the leader would bet nothing or a low amount. If you do this, however, you reduce the odds that you might win in the case that you are both wrong given the fact that other person could pick any number at all.

Either way, I think 3,000 was too low of a wager, and probably not a good strategy.

bet less that $2000 so that if you get the DD wrong you can win if the leader gets the FJ wrong and you get it right.
bet over $8000 so that if you get the DD right then you win if you get the FJ right.

Moved to Cafe Society.

General Questions Moderator

The wager is a reflection of the contestant’s confidence at being able to answer correctly, or perhaps his/her level of risk aversion. Also, if there were only a few clues left, and he/she got the DD wrong, he/she might not be able to get back over 50% of the leader’s position, handing the leader a lock (if the third contestant is also below 50% of the leader).

What I don’t understand is why anyone would ever bet less than the face value of a DD clue, since that’s what you were betting before you knew it was a DD. But it happens fairly often.

Darth Panda: I think you may be confused: the first place player isn’t playing the DD. There were still several clues to go before Final Jeopardy, in which your scenario makes sense.

I don’t think it’s true that they were “betting the face value” before they new it was a daily double. For non-daily doubles, you have the option of not answering, which costs you nothing.

For non-DD clues, you don’t ring in until after you have seen the clue, so you can be pretty confident that you will get the answer right before you take the risk. On the DD, you have to wager before you’ve seen the clue and have no idea if you might know the answer.

tim314 rang in before I did.


n.m. too :slight_smile:

Yeah, my bad - I was thinking Final Jeopardy.

Since we’re discussing Jeopardy strategy, why is is so common in Final Jeopardy to wager the amount that allows you to win by $1?

It seems to me that it would be way cooler to wager for a dead-even tie. Does Jeopardy frown on ties?

No, but if you tie, you BOTH come back the next time. Why would you want to bring that same person back if they are competitive against you? Crush them, and hopefully next time you get 2 weaker opponents.

I’ve wondered that myself. The only thing I can think of is that the experience of being on the show helps you improve your playing skills. Perhaps the winner would rather take their chances playing against two novices on the next show rather than against an experienced veteran player.

ETA: Dang, I can’t get the hang of ringing in quickly enough.

Ahh, see I would be thinking “I already know I can beat this guy, why not bring him back tomorrow for me to beat again?”

The devil you know, in other words. But I can understand the opposing viewpoint.

Not only that, but the clues get more difficult as you go down the board, including the Daily Doubles. If you get one under a $2000 space, and it’s a category you’re not well versed in, you might be wise to bet less than $2000. I’ve never seen a Daily Double in the top row, but if you get one in the second row, bet big.

One of my strategy ideas would be to start with one of my weaker categories. Since the board often gets cleared, you’ll have a chance at every question. If the Daily Double is in one of your strong categories, and you can get control of the board, you’ll have more money to wager. If the DD is not there, you haven’t really lost anything. Comments?

This is right, but the only good thing about the $1 win is that it appears dramatic.

When I was on in 1991, I won my first show by $1, and after it aired a friend pointed out that I shouldn’t have bet to beat the #2 player by $1, but to avoid losing to the #3 player by $1. Here’s how it went in my case (the actual numbers):

Entering FJ: 

Richard	Lynda 	Commasense
$3,600 	$1,600 	$5,700

$3,590 	$1,600 	$1,501

Final scores:
$7,190 	$3,200 	$7,201

I bet $1,501 to beat the best Richard could have done by $1, but I should have bet $2,499, which would have earned me $998 more if – as actually happened – we all got it right, and kept me in second place ($3,201) if I got it wrong and they both got it right.

My friend was right, and I smacked myself, but I had never considered that issue before the taping, and was nervous enough in the break before the FJ round that I ran through the math twice to make sure that I would end up with more than Richard if we were both right.

An extra $1,000 in 1991 would have been nice, but I was just glad I won at least one show.

Also remember that unless this is a Friday show you will be going back on in half an hour or so (since they tape five shows a day) and are thus in practice. Your new opponents have been sitting in the audience for the entire time.

Before went on I played the computer game quite a bit. It was useless in practicing ringing in, and the questions were easy, but it was useful in refining betting strategies.

In that situation, I think that the contestant would be overreaching. I would bet no more than 1,999 so that in final jeopardy I could win with a correct answer and my opponent’s incorrect answer.

I need that to happen anyways. If I bet 12k and get the answer right, I go into FJ with $24k and him with $20k. I STILL need for him to get the final question wrong and me get it right, and bet a substantial amount of money.

IOW, I can’t win at the late stages of double jeopardy, but I can sure lose it all if I am at less than 50% of the leader.

This is the right answer. The contestant in the OP made a bad wager.

I don’t think that’s correct. Having the lead going into Final Jeopardy is a big advantage. Assuming standard betting, if both get the answer right, you win.

It’s after that that things get tricky. Obviously, if the first:second ratio is higher than 2:1, it’s a runaway. But there’s another threshold at 3:2. Below that ratio, second place can bet nothing, hoping that the leader made a standard bet and got the question wrong. Above 3:2, that won’t happen; the standard bet (and wrong response) still leaves the leader with more than second place. Second place needs for that to happen AND to win enough on his own bet to take the lead. That’s the situation you’re describing, where a player must get FJ right and hope another gets it wrong.