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Audience Jeers Contestant Who Uses Game Theory To Win At 'Jeopardy' 412

Posted by Soulskill
from the comments-must-be-in-the-form-of-a-question dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "USA Today reports that Arthur Chu, an insurance compliance analyst and aspiring actor, has won $102,800 in four Jeopardy! appearances using a strategy — jumping around the board instead of running categories straight down, betting odd amounts on Daily Doubles and doing a final wager to tie — that has fans calling him a 'villain' and 'smug.' It's Arthur's in-game strategy of searching for the Daily Double that has made him such a target. Typically, contestants choose a single category and progressively move from the lowest amount up to the highest, giving viewers an easy-to-understand escalation of difficulty. But Arthur has his sights solely set on finding those hidden Daily Doubles, which are usually located on the three highest-paying rungs in the categories (the category itself is random). That means, rather than building up in difficulty, he begins at the most difficult questions. Once the two most difficult questions have been taken off the board in one column, he quickly jumps to another category. It's a grating experience for the viewer, who isn't given enough to time to get in a rhythm or fully comprehend the new subject area. 'The more unpredictable you are, the more you put your opponents off-balance, the longer you can keep an initial advantage,' says Chu. 'It greatly increases your chance of winning the game if you can pull it off, and I saw no reason not to do it.' Another contra-intuitive move Chu has made is playing for a tie rather than to win in 'Final Jeopardy' because that allows you advance to the next round which is the most important thing, not the amount of money you win in one game. 'In terms of influence on the game,Arthur looks like a trendsetter of things to come,' says Eric Levenson. 'Hopefully that has more to do with his game theory than with his aggressive button-pressing.'"
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Audience Jeers Contestant Who Uses Game Theory To Win At 'Jeopardy'

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @05:53PM (#46155357)

    In another tidbit, Chu has been providing the voice acting for some short story clips on . The author there notes that Chu's disruptive and intelligent gaming is similar to the protagonist of the comic there; it's interesting to see this. A comic about a shrewd strategist who makes waves and steps on toes with his unconventional warfare and leveraging minutiae has a vociferous fan who reads it aloud for other fans before appearing on Jeopardy where he's a shrewd strategist...

    And hey, that's some trivia about a contestant on a trivia show.

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @06:07PM (#46155527) Homepage Journal

    I didn't watch either of them, and even I know that was the world cup, not the Olympics.

  • Re:Upredictable WTF? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @06:13PM (#46155619)

    If you RTFA you'd know that someone else did it in the 80s, whom Chu is copying deliberately.

  • Re:3 Day Old News (Score:5, Informative)

    by noh8rz10 (2716597) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @06:16PM (#46155673)

    He's getting booed because he's taking all the fun out of the game for the viewers. It's not the freaking Olympics. It's a tv show, meant to entertain. He's not being entertaining.

  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @06:33PM (#46155973)

    Beneath the surface means exactly nothing when picking up a one night stand.

  • He still has to answer the questions correctly.


    he's not winning "using game theory"...

    he's using game theory to *disorient his opponents* by creating *uncertainty* for them but not himself

    that's all that's happening here...he puts his opponents (and himself) at a disadvantage because he's disturbing the expected game flow. Only he has the benefit of **knowing what to expect** which allows him to concentrate more on thinking up the right answer.

    it's a good strategy, nothing you could write a thesis's more like a smokescreen tactic.

    he's winning because he gets the answers right...people are complaining because of how he handles himself and because it makes it harder for them to play along at home

  • by jxander (2605655) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @07:25PM (#46156577)

    While true (answering the questions correctly is the real determiner) his method increases the odds of finding the Daily Doubles. Statistically, DDs are in the bottom few blocks on the board. Picking the top blocks just creates more chances for someone else to take control. Especially if other players are sticking with the traditional top-down approach.

    Example. First player pick box 1 (the top box in a given category) and Arthur Chu answers correctly. He then jumps down to box 4 in that category. Lets assume it's not a DD, and the other player answers it. Other player picks box 2 (continuing where they left off) and then box 3. If Chu gets either of those right, he takes #5 in that category, ensuring the best possible odds for DD.

    Daily Doubles are the real wildcard here. They're worth the most money (based on your own wager) and you are given time to think it over, instead of rushing to beat out the competition. "He who controls the spi- err, Daily Doubles, controls the game."

  • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @07:26PM (#46156589)

    I watched an gameshow on a US network once.

    Whoa guys watch out, we've got an expert here.

    The format you're describing is the "new breed" of shows which, as you've correctly determined, are designed to get people to watch commercials. They aren't limited to game shows, either. Those include shows like the one that Howie Mandel hosted a couple years ago which apparently is no longer on the air, or "Minute To Win It" hosted by Guy Fieri (that show has several reasons not to watch it), or nearly any other prime-time game show that appears on a major network. They also include reality shows, for example I think that "Hell's Kitchen" has the highest ratio of commercials to content in minutes. Yes, those shows exist to sell ads. Jeopardy is not one of those shows. Jeopardy doesn't rely on stupid hooks to try and get people to stick around while stretching out the limited content as much as possible. Jeopardy actually shows the entire game without any summary of what just happened or what's about to happen, they take breaks at pre-determined times instead of when the drama is heating up, etc.

  • by KingSkippus (799657) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @08:42PM (#46157337) Homepage Journal

    I'm sorry, I didn't realize that folks weren't more familiar with Jeopardy!.

    Normally if a player is in the lead by more than twice as much as the next closest person (that is, a guaranteed win), he will bet an amount that, if he misses the question and the second-place person answers it correctly, will leave him or her in the lead by a dollar. For example, if Alice has $15,000, Bob has $7,000, and Carol as $4,000, Alice will bet $999. If Alice misses the question and Bob gets it correct, Alice will end up with $14,001 and Bob will end up with $14,000, thus securing Alice the win.

    To play for the tie instead, Alice would bet $1,000. Thus if she answers incorrectly and Bob answers correctly, they will both have $14,000. Both win the cash prize instead of the consolation prize(s), and both come back on tomorrow's show. If Alice is hardcore nice, she might even miss the question deliberately (yes, that means she'll be foregoing $2,000 extra in prize money) since that will net Bob $14,000 and she'll be bringing someone into the game tomorrow that she's relatively confident she can beat.

    If Alice does not have the game locked up, then normally she would bet just enough so that, if she and Bob both answer correctly, she would end up one dollar ahead. For example, if Alice has $15,000, Bob has $10,000, and Carol has $3,000, Alice would bet $5,001, assuming that Bob will bet the entire amount. If both answer the question correctly, then Alice will end up with $20,001 and Bob with $20,000. If both answer incorrectly, Bob will likely end up with something close to $0, and Alice will end up with $9,999. If Alice answers incorrectly and Bob answers correctly, then unless Bob really screwed the pooch on his betting strategy, he will win and there's nothing Alice can do about it. (Which, incidentally, I have seen before.)

    However, if Alice is playing for the tie, she will bet $5,000. That way, if she and Bob both answer correctly, they will both win $20,000, and again, she will carry a player she's likely to beat into the next game.

    Obviously, that's not the whole story, because you might adjust your betting strategy based on where the third place person is to ensure that you capture at least second place, and sometimes you tweak the amount so that if everyone blows it, you come out ahead. Or sometimes you might do something irrational if you have some ulterior reason for it; for example, Alice might bet more on the question if it is about 18th Century Authors and she happens to be a literature professor with extensive knowledge in that field. But still, hopefully that paints a good enough picture to understand what "betting for the tie" means, versus trying to win outright.

  • by asmkm22 (1902712) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @09:17PM (#46157635)

    Not the daily double's, which is the one's he's racing to find by jumping around the board.

  • by pokerdad (1124121) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @10:25PM (#46158137)
    Ken Jennings would always ignore the first two questions of every category in double jeopardy until the daily doubles were gone. When things were going well for him his would mean he would do the bottom three questions in one category and then another and so on. However, if he found he wasn't liking a category he wasn't afraid to switch to another, so there were occasions that what Ken was doing looked not dissimilar to what this guy is doing.
  • by Dahamma (304068) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @01:57AM (#46159473)

    Wrong again. The Daily Double is revealed when you pick the question, not when you buzz in for the answer, so your statement "he's also quickly buzzing for questions that he knows he can't answer, just to deprive someone else from being able to answer them" doesn't make sense.

"I have more information in one place than anybody in the world." -- Jerry Pournelle, an absurd notion, apparently about the BIX BBS