Librarian halts pro-gamblers quiz show win streak

James HolzhauerImage copyright
Jeopardy Productions Inc

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James Holzhauer was just short of breaking the programme’s money record

A professional gambler’s 32-game winning streak on US quiz show Jeopardy! has come to an end after he was beaten by a university librarian.

James Holzhauer had won $2.46m (£1.9m) before losing to Emma Boettcher.

He is only the second contestant in the show’s history to earn more than $1m in one run.

Jeopardy! contestants must answer clues in the form of a question. It is one of the longest-running quiz shows on US televisions.

Mr Holzhauer’s winnings were just short of Ken Jenning’s record $2.52m earned in 74 consecutive games.

The 34-year-old gained celebrity status for his playing tactics.

His style differed from previous contestants as he opted to target the “expensive” difficult clues first instead of solving easy clues.

He also made large bets on “Daily Double” questions where players can risk as much as their entire score in one answer.

He said he prepared for the game by reading children’s books.

After being beaten he told the New York Times: “Nobody likes to lose. But I’m very proud of how I did, and I really exceeded my own expectations for the show. So I don’t feel bad about it.”

An average of 10.3 million viewers tuned in during the first 12 days of Mr Holzhauer’s run, audience data indicated.

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The 27-year-old is a librarian at the University of Chicago

Who is Emma Boettcher?

Ms Boettcher, a librarian at the University of Chicago, wrote her master’s thesis at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill on predicting the difficulty of trivia questions using text features.

The 27-year-old used Jeopardy! as her basis for the study, analysing thousands of clues.

She also holds a degree in English from Princeton University – and told New York Magazine’s Vulture that the final question topic of Shakespeare was her “dream category”.

Ms Boettcher described her winning strategy to Vulture as “a little bit whimsical”, but based on data gathered from years watching the show.

“I was a little more guided by intuition and feeling as opposed to having sussed out the exact, optimal strategy beforehand and using that every single time,” she said.

“‘Whimsical’ and ‘data driven’ probably don’t belong in the same sentence, but as a librarian, it makes me happy.”

Ms Boettcher told the Chicago Tribune she plans on using her $46,801 winnings to pay off student loans and give back to the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science.

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