Jeopardy James stays a preferred determine after WSOP debut

It has been three weeks since his epic run on “Jeopardy!” got here to a detailed on TV, and James Holzhauer’s life has slowed down solely barely. The curiosity within the 34-year-old Las Vegas sports activities bettor, nonetheless, stays sturdy.

Holzhauer made his debut within the World Sequence of Poker on Monday on the Rio in Las Vegas, the place he was greeted by a throng of media and followers. Some introduced selfmade indicators wishing him good luck, and others, from so far as Oregon, admitted that they weren’t actually poker followers however had been simply there to see Jeopardy James. He was stopped each few steps with requests for images as he made his approach from a staging space into the cardboard room.

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“The media consideration we obtained [Monday] was unimaginable,” mentioned Poker Corridor of Famer Mike Sexton, who sponsored Holzhauer in a pair of World Sequence of Poker occasions. “We had press convention earlier than it began, and there should have been 30-40 members of the press, all of the native TV stations. It was outstanding.”

This spring, Holzhauer went from deliberately sustaining an ultra-low profile as a pointy sports activities bettor in Las Vegas to changing into a nationwide celeb in simply two months. He received 32 consecutive episodes on “Jeopardy!,” racking up greater than $2.four million by risking quantities — and producing TV ratings- — by no means earlier than seen within the iconic recreation present’s 35 seasons.

Jeopardy fan Judi Blomquist gives some help for James Holzhauer on the World Sequence of Poker. Picture courtesy of the World Sequence of Poker

Holzhauer was again to his playing roots Monday. Throughout his “Jeopardy!” run, he joked with host Alex Trebek that he majored in on-line poker on the College of Illinois, the place he obtained a level in arithmetic. He gravitated away from poker to sports activities betting over the previous 13 years, partly as a result of the web fee processing surroundings worsened within the mid-2000s. He mentioned a few of his bankroll was tied up in Neteller, when the web fee processor bumped into authorized issues round 2007, however he additionally acknowledges that the web sports activities betting market had related points on the similar time. It is a part of the rationale he first moved from Illinois to Las Vegas in 2008.

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He discovered that sports activities betting higher match his temperament, too, as a result of there have been methods to forestall the wild swings that always got here with poker.

“I bear in mind being fairly disagreeable once I’d undergo days [playing poker] the place you’d lose possibly 15 p.c of your bankroll or one thing like that,” Holzhauer mentioned. “The way in which that I guess sports activities now, it is by no means that a lot of a swing. I’ll have plenty of actually good bets on one facet, and if the chance is out there, I am joyful to take a center or a moneyline, lock in some revenue, hold the danger down slightly bit. That appears to work higher for my temperament.”

Holzhauer admitted to being rusty and an underdog when he sat down Monday in his first World Sequence of Poker occasion. His plan, he mentioned, was to hopefully keep alive lengthy sufficient to finally find yourself dropping plenty of chips to one of many poker professionals.

“Within the immortal phrases of Joe Maddon, strive to not suck. #WSOP,” Holzhauer posted on Twitter earlier than the $1,500 Tremendous Turbo Bounty occasion started Monday.

He additionally partnered with Sexton to compete in a $1,000 buy-in tag-team event. They agreed to donate 50 p.c of their winnings to Challenge150, a charity that helps homeless teenagers in Las Vegas, however completed out of the cash in each occasions. Holzhauer donated $10,000 to Challenge150 previous to the event, and Sexton, now the chairman of on-line poker platform PartyPoker, donated $5,000 to Challenge150 on Thursday.

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“I used to be pleased with how I performed,” Holzhauer instructed ESPN in a cellphone interview earlier this week. “I performed nicely, learn the playing cards nicely, however misplaced on a two-outer or three-outer on consecutive palms to bust me out of the event.”

Throughout breaks from the playing cards, Jeopardy James followers approached Challenge150 govt director Kelli Kristo and provided to make $100 donations in trade for an image with Holzhauer. Even the skilled poker gamers within the event, who typically hold to themselves, eagerly approached Holzhauer.

“They principally wished to speak about sports activities betting,” Holzhauer mentioned.

Whereas his WSOP run ended shortly, Sexton mentioned he was impressed with how Holzhauer dealt with himself.

“He dealt with himself nicely on the desk and with the followers,” Sexton mentioned. “Although he did not put up any cash, you continue to do not need to embarrass your self. The eyes of the poker world are going to be on you, and the eyes of the media. He dealt with all of it.”

Sexton joked that he considers himself to be “one of many largest sports activities betting suckers of all-time” and was glad that Holzhauer represented all skilled gamblers in knowledgeable method.

“For years, everyone thought poker was one thing that occurred in a again room of a smoke-filled pool corridor, for instance,” Sexton mentioned. “Now, they’ve these multimillion-dollar tournaments in essentially the most lavished casinos on this planet on tv. Folks have a special viewpoint of the poker business now than they used to have. Definitely, I feel James is doing the identical factor for sports activities betting now.

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“Any sort of skilled gambler who handles himself with the demeanor he does,” Sexton added, “who’s so giving to charity like and he and his spouse are, such a household man, it is solely a profit to the business.”

Requested throughout Monday’s WSOP occasions what he’d made the chances on him beating Holzhauer in a spherical of “Jeopardy!,” Sexton mentioned, “Nicely, if the classes had been the World Sequence of Poker, World Poker Tour, Gymnastics, Ballroom Dancing, Poker Corridor of Fame, I won’t get him, however no less than I feel I would give him a run for his cash. Apart from that, I am drawing lifeless.”

Now, Holzhauer is beginning to look forward to a future that features a trip and potential alternatives that he by no means thought could be out there. Skilled sports activities groups have contacted him, as have main media retailers about what he plans to do subsequent.

“My spouse is encouraging me to determine what I’ll do within the fall,” Holzhauer mentioned.

Solely time will inform if he can have one other proper reply.

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