ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How James Holzhauer Dominates Jeopardy!™ with Economy of Words

Updated on November 21, 2019

As a mega-fan, nothing frustrates me more than the contestants leaving uncovered clues on the board at the end of the round. "Urrrgh...I KNOW I would have answered those last $200 clues correctly!"

There is only so much time allotted for each Jeopardy!™ round, and there are several infractions that many contestants commit. If they would just learn the James Holzhauer way, more players could easily compete.

We don't see a clock, but you better believe that time is a factor. Once Alex announces that there's a minute (or less than a minute) left, if the Daily Double hasn't yet been uncovered, serious adrenaline kicks in. You gotta get an answer right and be the one to find it. Time is running out!

Holzhauer's buzzer speed, extensive knowledge, and aggressive betting are all major factors that contribute to his success. But one possibly overlooked component that gives him the edge is his economy of words.

JH knows how to keep things moving. His timing is impeccable. He flows through clue and question in an almost musically rhythmic fashion. But it's about what he doesn't say that makes the difference.

Here's a literal transcription of a recent contestant's pick:

"Uhh...let's go with...Top 100 books for six hundred, please."

Okay, let's dissect this.

  • One thing that makes Holzhauer dominate is his decisiveness. He doesn't hesitate. He doesn't doubt or question himself. There is no "uhhh" or "ummm" ever.
  • "Let's go with" is just another verbal stalling technique. You might as well be saying "uhhh" again.
  • To this player's credit, the actual full title of the category was "The Great American Read's Top 100 Books," so he did cut out the unnecessary beginning. But he could do much better. Like James does.
  • Now let's just talk about the word "for." Completely pointless to verbalize. It only takes up a beat, but like JH, you want to stay in the groove, and every beat matters.
  • Next is the amount. In this case, six hundred (at least he didn't say "dollars," too). The numbers on the board are all easily conveyed with just the first digit (or digits). There's no need to say "hundred" or "thousand."
  • Finally, many players end with a polite request by including the word "please." Stop it. Stop saying "please." It takes up too much time. Alex doesn't care. He wants to read the clue. If you add up every "please" in a round you lose like, 15-20 seconds, and end up leaving stuff on the board. Not cool. That's two $200 clues that I could've gotten right!

To recap, here is the recent contestant's request:

"Uhh...let's go with...Top 100 books for six hundred, please."

And here is how Jeopardy James would handle the same clue:

"Books six."

Economy of words, ladies and gentleman!

Two syllables. Boom boom. Alex Trebek is smart and quick. He knows what you mean. James rocks it because he is decisive, doesn't add any bullshit, and inherently knows that timing is an important aspect of winning.

If you're lucky enough to be on the show, practice the buzzer and plan for the smartest wagering approach, but for goodness sake — learn how to say less to accomplish more. Please.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)