Alex Jacob might just be the proof the poker community has yearned for over the years in making its case that the card game is much more than simply a contest of chance.
After graduating from Yale University in 2006, Jacob used his economics and mathematics degree to best his opponents at the felt, and over the next six years he amassed over $2.6 million in earnings including 25 cashes at the World Series of Poker events.
Arguably nothing short of a genius, Jacob stepped away from the casino to become a currency trader with the Chicago-based firm Gelber Group, but he didn’t lose his competitive spirit or drive to outsmart the competition.
On April 10, Jacob competed on what would be the first of seven appearances on “Jeopardy!” as he rattled off six straight wins for a total of $149,802.
That sum qualified Jacob for the game show’s Tournament of Champions (TOC), which he won in dominating fashion this November with the conclusion last Friday.
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15 “Jeopardy!” contestants were invited back for the TOC, with Jacob ranked second in season 32 in terms of winnings. Jacob easily won his quarterfinal and semifinal matches, unable to be caught by his opponents in Final Jeopardy.
Reaching the two-day finale, Jacob once again lapped the competition thanks to finding the Daily Doubles and capitalizing by taking them literally and going all-in.
At the conclusion of the Finals, Jacob amassed $48,300 in the tournament to win the $250,000 grand prize and title of TOC winner.
His runaway win allowed him to answer the final question by writing, “Thanks to everyone who works on the world’s greatest game show!”
Host Alex Trebek was impressed. “I just want to say that this was the most dominant performance by anyone in any of our tournaments,” Trebek declared.
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Jacob was notorious for utilizing the so-called “Forrest Bounce,” a strategy where the contestant jumps around the board from one category to another to keep opponents off-guard and thus delaying their response time.
The nonlinear approach has become popular since 1987 when TOC winner Chuck Forrest employed the method, but Jacob’s poker background is also receiving praise for his historic win.
“His poker background may have played a part in his bet-big, win-big strategy, too, which allowed him to amass an impressive total,” the show wrote on its official website. “With a lot of pressure riding on his every syllable, maybe it’s a testament to his experience at the poker table that he can make calculated decisions under extreme pressure.”
Another added bit of pressure likely came from his wife, Jacob currently in the midst of planning his honeymoon following his recent marriage. “I don’t know where, you’ll have to ask my wife,” Jacob joked afterwards.
With an additional quarter-million in his bank account, Jacob can afford to take his better half just about anywhere their hearts desire.
“The money is really nice, but I feel even better about winning the title, putting my name next to the ‘Jeopardy!’ greats,” Jacob remarked.