Is game theory the secret to winning 'Jeopardy!'?

HAYWARD, Calif. -- There seems to be a strategy for almost everything-- for dieting, investing and even for winning games. The 14-day winning streak for 35-year-old James Holzhauer on "Jeopardy!" has people wondering about his strategy.

James Holzhauer identifies himself as a professional gambler. He was a math major in college. Some suspect they know the secret behind his amazing, million-dollar winning streak.

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To put it in "Jeopardy!" terms, the category is game theory. The answer is, who is Prof. Christian Roesser, associate professor of economics, at Cal State East Bay?

Dr. Roesser teaches a semester-long economics course in game theory that helps people make smarter decisions.

"People would perform better on these game shows if they took the time to learn it," he says.

In Holzhauer's case, his game strategy appears to be to amass large winnings in the first round.

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"It's in his interests to choose categories, first of all, that he's particularly confident about, and second, within those categories, to go for the large bets first because if he doesn't do that, when he gets to the Daily Double, he's not going to have as much money to bet potentially," Dr. Roesser said.

Where are those Daily Doubles? Dr. Roesser says game theory won't help, but former two-day "Jeopardy!" champion Jericho Saria says others have discovered a pattern.

"Yeah, there's five rows," he said, as he watched Jeopardy on a large screen TV. "The middle three rows are the most probable, not even that second row. So the third and fourth row."

Saria, who's a member of the ABC7 News team, won over $53,000 on "Jeopardy!" in 2011.

Holzhauer's statistics are impressive. His record so far is 497 correct answers and 18 wrong. That's a 96-percent success rate. He's first on the buzzer over half the time. He has hit the Daily Double 32 out of 35 times, and he has gotten Final "Jeopardy!" 13 out of 14 times.

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And he's still in the game! Holzhauer won Wednesday night increasing his winnings to now over $1-million.

"Jeopardy!" will appear at special times on Thursday (at 10 pm PST) and on Friday (at 8:30 pm PST) right after live ABC coverage of the NFL draft.
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