Arthur Chu '08 Uses Game Theory in Notable Jeopardy Performance

Philly.com:  'Jeopardy!' tie game makes Arthur Chu a hero?

Wednesday night, something rare happened on Jeopardy! A player bet to allow a tie, letting another contestant also get a big payday.

To some Jeopardy! fans that makes Arthur Chu a hero.

"Tonight was my favorite episode of @Jeopardy that I can remember. Doing something nice for someone else is where you can find happiness," tweeted ‏@averageheather

"So happy to see someone playing game theory correct on Jeopardy. Totally nerded out after you bet to tie. You're awesome!" tweeted @CraigMacn.

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[Update: Chu won Friday's game, adding $20,000 for a four-day total of $102,800. Stories of his success have also appeared on ABC News/Good Morning AmericaCNN, and NPR's All Things Considered (by Hansi Lo Wang '09) and in the Daily Beast, Toronto StarDaily Mail (U.K.), The Atlantic, USA Today, Business Insider, and the New York Post, among others.]

Wednesday's game was a wild one, where Chu went down to zero during Double Jeopardy after missing a Daily Double, only to surge back into the lead before the ultimate wager. 

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The tie result stood out in stark contrast to a far more common scenario: The player with the most greedily tacks on an extra buck, letting only one person get the glory and the max cash -- while the show buttresses its bottom line. Chu, however, denied by phone this morning that he was being humanistic. And no, he wasn't trying to spark some interest from an attractive woman, as some have suggested. The Ohio insurance compliance analyst, who does freelance voiceovers, said he's happily married to Eliza Blair ['07], a fellow grad of Swarthmore College.

He pointed out that his bet on Tuesday's show also allowed a tie, but the next contestant didn't come up with "the fountainhead" to complete an Ayn Rand quote. Also off-base was a tweet that asserted "he got cocky and assumed she would bet to keep $1 if wrong like everyone on jeopardy."

The game theory idea was right. "I'll be honest. I outsourced my wagering decision-making to this blog," Chu said. 

That is, while prepping for the show, he studied the advice of a former college champ, whose The Final Wager website is devoted to analyzing Jeopardy!'s concluding bets.

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"I don't want to take any unnecessary risks," he said. "That's just my personality. I always play very defensively."

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Chu graduated from Swarthmore in 2008 with a B.A. in history. Learn more about his strategy at Mental Floss