Alex Jacob ‘Jeopardy!’ Run Reaches Four Wins
Former tournament poker pro Alex Jacob continued to surprise both the poker and game-show worlds by capturing his fourth straight daily win in the long-running syndicated game show “Jeopardy!” on Wednesday.
Jacob, who still ranks in the top 400 all-time poker tournament money winners despite not having a registered cash since 2012, has described himself as a “securities trader” in his Jeopardy! bio. Jacob collected his fourth straight win in what was probably his toughest daily match since his opening win on Friday, following a couple of easier triumphs on Monday’s and Tuesday’s episodes. (That’s a current photo of Jacob at the right, posing with Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek.)
Jeopardy! episodes are filmed in large episodal blocks weeks or months in advance of their actual broadcast dates, with the one-per-day release of new episodes of the program released for airing both in the US and internationally. The game show dates from 1964, with the current version running continuously in daily syndication since 1984, hosted continuously by Trebek during that period.
Jacob’s run has drawn plenty of attention from Jeopardy! fanatics as well, with many noting his use of several unusual and cutthroat gaming strategies during his four-day winning streak. Some of the strategies employed are unique to the Jeopardy! format, while others seem derived from Jacob’s own poker and gaming knowledge. It’s clear, though, that Jacob studied the Jeopardy! game format extensively before making his own appearance on the show.
Despite already going well over $100,000 for his four days of winning, Jacob has a long, long way to go to approach true Jeopardy! elite categories. The longest day-to-day winning streak in Jeopardy! was achieved by Utah native Ken Jennings, who won 74 straight times over nearly half a year in 2004, winning more than $2.6 million.
Oddly enough, $2.6 million in just about the amount that Alex Jacob has recorded in career poker tourney earnings. Perhaps Jacob’s single biggest poker moment came back in 2006 when he captured the largest-ever edition of the US Poker Championship, a $10,000 buy-in event that was held from 1996-2010 at the Trump Taj Mahal in New Jersey.
Both the USPC and the Taj Mahal itself are now defunct, but the USPC poker tourney enjoyed a televised heyday during the peak years of last decade’s poker boom. Jacob collected $878,500 for winning the largest-ever USPC main event, topping such final-table competitors as Jordan Morgan, Michael DiMichele, Dan Shak and Shane Schleger.
Impressive as it is, Jacob’s run would also have to continue for quite a while to reach the best performance by a poker player on a non-poker-themed game show. Alex Outhred won $500,000 back in 2007 on a single episode of Fox’s Jeff Foxworthy-hosted “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” Many other poker players have appeared on game shows, as part of a long tradition dating back at least to Phil Gordon’s awkward stint on “The Dating Game” several decades ago.
Here are a handful of other well-known poker players who have appeared on game or reality-TV shows in recent years. (It’s an admittedly top-of-the-head list; commenters are encouraged to provide other well-known examples):
Annie Duke: Several programs (rumors circulated that she appeared as a planted contestant whose appearances were financed by Cereus, in an example of guerrilla marketing);
Mario Ho / Tiffany Michelle: The Amazing Race (ditto the Cereus connection and appearance-financing rumors);
Liv Boeree (UK): Split or Steal;
Jean-Robert Bellande: Survivor.