Maximum Possible Win on Jeopardy!

Jeopardy! Board

“This is Jeopardy!” Or at least, this is the Jeopardy! board as it appears at the beginning of the game. And for a long time, I’ve wondered what the theoretical top score would be. The average winning score tends to be in the $20,000 range. But I figured the theoretical score would be substantially higher. But I had no idea just how much higher.

As you can see the board above, the maximum amount you could make if you got all of those “answers” right would be $18,000. The “Double Jeopardy” round doubles those amounts: $36,000. So your total after two rounds could be $54,000. And then you could double that to $108,000 in “Final Jeopardy.”

Of course, there is a major wrinkle in the game: the “Daily Double.” When a player uncovers the “Daily Double,” he can risk as much money as he has (or $1,000 if he has less). There is one “Daily Double” in the first round and two in the second.

Just how lucrative the “Daily Double” is depends upon how much money that player has when he gets it. So clearly, the best time to get it is at the end of the board under a $200 square. So in the first round, the player would win $17,800 when he selects the last $200 square to reveal the “Daily Double.” He would then risk it all because he is unstoppable. That would give him $35,600 at the end of the first round.

The second round would go the same except that there would be two $400 squares left, the player having added $35,200 to his existing $35,600. So for the first “Daily Double,” he has $70,800 to risk, giving him $141,600. He would again double in the second “Daily Double” for $283,200 at the end of “Double Jeopardy.”

In “Final Jeopardy,” our perfect player would again double his money for a total of $566,400. And that’s not bad for 22 minutes of work!

Afterword

I have found that I am as good at Jeopardy! if I vaguely listen as I am if I concentrate. I believe this is how the computer does so well. All you have to do is listen for keywords and you rarely go wrong. If the “answers” weren’t filled with hints, the show would be much harder. And less popular.

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  1. Pingback: Jeopardy! the Game Show is 52 Years Old Today (Anniversary Post)

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