It’s been thirteen years since Ken Jennings went on a 74-episode streak on Jeopardy, unquestionably the long-running game show’s biggest leap into pop culture prominence. There have been several great stories and big runs since, perhaps most recently last year’s run by Cindy Stowell, who competed while undergoing treatment for terminal cancer, and who didn’t live to see her own incredible winning streak air.
Now, we’re in the middle of what could be another tremendous run, this time by New York bartender Austin Rogers, whose victory and impressively bold wager last night gave him his sixth win in a row, with an impressive $257,700 in winnings. What makes Austin so compelling, though, is that he’s in the mold of a gambler; here’s how he won Final Jeopardy last night, having entered the round with a not-quite-insurmountable lead:
He still bet almost the whole amount! (And just enough to end on $69,000, too, which is extra nice.) Game theory tends to support that kind of gambling, especially once you’ve already won an episode. Players not yet guaranteed of more than the $2,000 or $1,000 consolation prizes are less likely to throw their weight around for Daily Doubles or Final, and a more aggressive player can really pull away with a few well-timed correct answers.
Rogers doesn’t automatically bet everything, weighing things appropriately to game situation and (presumably) his strengths and weaknesses in various categories, but it’s still incredibly impressive to watch him play. Whether or not he can extend his streak further remains to be seen, but it’ll likely be an entertaining watch regardless of what happens.