How to Gamble on Jeopardy!

Alex Trebek, Jeopardy, Money PIle
One of my fellow gambling bloggers is a huge fan of the show Jeopardy! In fact, he watches it every day with his elderly mom. We’ve discussed the show at length on multiple occasions, and our discussions invariably wind up focusing on how to gamble on Jeopardy.

You’re probably familiar with the game show already, as it’s practically an American institution. The original version of the show was on from 1964 to 1975, and the most recent version has been on the air since 1984. (I was 14 years old when Alex Trebek went to work hosting this new version.)

Can you believe they’ve aired 8000+ episodes of Jeopardy now? It’s won multiple Daytime Emmys, too.

I’d argue that besides baseball and poker, the only thing more quintessentially American (leisure-wise) than Jeopardy is gambling. So, here are some thoughts about how to gamble on Jeopardy.

Jeopardy Slot Machines

Of course, everyone knows now that slot machine games are the biggest revenue generator in almost any American casino. I used to see reports that estimated the gambling machines made 70% of a casino’s money. I think the number now is closer to 80% in most casinos.

One of the big revolutions in slot machine gaming was the launch of The Wheel of Fortune slot machine, which was based on the game show of the same name. The gimmick for that game is that you get to spin a wheel just like the one on the show.

Wheel of Fortune is the most popular slot machine franchise in history, so it’s no surprise that IGT and other slot machine manufacturers have tried to duplicate that success by launching slot machines based on other TV game shows.

Games like Deal or No Deal, Press Your Luck, and The Price Is Right are all popular examples of game shows that have been translated into slot machine games.

Hands Hitting Buttons on Slot Machines, Jeopardy Slot Machine

But if you want to gamble on Jeopardy, the easiest way is probably to just find a casino with a Jeopardy slot machine game and play it.

It’s a five-reel video slot machine game with nine paylines. The game also features several bonus games. The graphics and sound effects are all specifically based on Jeopardy. The symbols include the logo for the show, along with some of the famous question categories.

Jeopardy slots are dollar games, which means you must bet at least $1 per spin. You can bet up to $5 per spin, and you can bet on anywhere from one to nine paylines. The jackpot is 25,000 coins.

The main bonus game features a screen with Jeopardy categories on it, and the amount won on each of the 30 spots is randomly determined. You don’t have to answer in the form of a question either, or even answer a question at all. It’s basically like a bonus game on any other slot machine.

Still, if you want to gamble on Jeopardy, this is one good way to do it.

Become a Contestant

Being a contestant on Jeopardy could also be considered gambling, although you don’t have to risk any of your own money to play on the show. If you consider the time and expense involved in becoming a contestant, you can see that you do have something at stake in exchange for the chance to win money with Alex Trebek.

To become a Jeopardy contestant, you must follow a specific process. That process begins with an online test on Jeopardy’s official website. If you pass the test, your name goes into a pool of potential contestants. The show’s producers randomly choose names from that pool to audition.

If you do well during your audition, they might invite you to compete.

This process can take 18 months. Auditioning isn’t a guarantee you’ll get in; if you have a lousy personality, you might not make it onto the show.

You also must meet the eligibility requirements for the show. These aren’t complicated, you need to be over 18 years old, unless you’re competing in the teen tournament, in which case you must be between the ages of 13 and 17. If you’re applying for the college show, you must be a full-time undergraduate student. You’re ineligible for this version of the show if you already have a degree.

You also can’t have appeared on the show with Alex Trebek before. You and your relatives also can’t have been employed by Sony, Quadra, CBS, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, any TV station, or any company which provides prizes to these shows.

How much can you win on Jeopardy? Well, that depends on how well you do, but as far as I know, there’s no cap to your winnings. James Holzhauer won over $2.4 million during his time on the show. (Coincidentally, he’s a professional sports bettor.)

Jeopardy Strategy for Winning the Most Money

I want to further address James Holzhauer, by the way. He won over $2.4 million during the 33 episodes of Jeopardy on which he appeared.

This is more than anyone except Ken Jennings, who won $2.5 million during 74 episodes. If you look at the amount won versus the number of episodes, you’ll see that Holzhauer did a lot better on a per-episode basis.

How did he do it? What was different about his strategy? Most contestants on Jeopardy start with the $200 questions and work their way up to the $1000 questions. Holzhauer did the opposite by starting at the bottom of the board with the $1000 questions. This enabled him to stack up money faster than other contestants.

Jeopardy Contestant James Holzhauer, Secrets of the Buzzer by Fritz Holznagel

The next component of his strategy was to find the Daily Double as fast as possible so he could double his money and get a big lead over the other contestants. During the first round, Holzhauer almost always bet everything he had on the Daily Double.

During Final Jeopardy, Holzhauer always wagered more than he probably needed to, but he never wagered enough to result in a loss if he got the answer wrong.

Of course, it helps to get 97% of your answers right, which Holzhauer did. Also, you need to be fast with the buzzer to have any hope of winning. Holzhauer says he read a book on the subject, Secrets of the Buzzer by Fritz Holznagel.

How do you develop the kind of broad knowledge you need to win at a trivia game like Jeopardy? I’ve read that one of the best ways is to spend time reviewing children’s non-fiction books. They’re less dense than non-fiction books written for adults. And they often include answers to questions that are often asked on the show.

Bet on the Results With Your Friends or a Sportsbook

Finally, you can also bet on Jeopardy by just placing a friendly wager at your local bar or in your living room with your buddies watching the show.

The easiest way to do this is to find two other people who want to bet on the show. Each of you backs a contestant of your choice; winner takes all.

Another option is to find an internet sportsbook accepting action on the contestants. These are prop bets, and they’re not always available. But when a player starts seeing unusual success on Jeopardy, some books, like Bovada, will offer action on how long a contestant will last or how much money he’ll win.


That’s how to bet on Jeopardy. You can play slot machines, get on the show, or bet on the show with someone else.

Do you have other ways to gamble on Jeopardy?