2. Bet Smart
An entire book could be devoted to betting strategies. With the Daily Doubles hidden throughout the game board (one in regular Jeopardy and two in Double Jeopardy), you must bet smart. (Easier said than done, of course.) Your wager depends on how comfortable you are with the category, how far ahead or behind you are, how many questions remain on the board, and how much time remains in the game. You don’t want to put yourself so far behind, should you miss it, that you can’t catch up. But you also don’t want to squander an opportunity to take the lead or pull farther ahead.
Whatever you do, never ever rely on Clavin’s Rule. While that made for great comedy, I’ve seen several players do basically the same thing as the lovable lunkhead from Cheers. Just recently a player pulled within $200 of the leader and hit the Daily Double. Rather than factoring the category, how much he would need to pass the leader, how few questions were still on the board, and how little time remained in the game, he wagered it all. To compound the problem, he didn’t even read the question correctly. (“Of the 10 listings on the Mohs scale, one of the 2 that end in z,” to which he responded zirconium. It was topaz or quartz because they end in Z, not begin with Z.)
When it comes to Final Jeopardy, the J! Archive has a whole host of strategies that bear names such as Break Point, the Faith-Love Scenario, and Bridge’s Rule. Most of them deal with Final Jeopardy scenarios in which the leader has exactly double his next closest rival, two-thirds more, one half more, etc. The permutations are almost endless. Will you opponent assume you will double your bet? Do you fake him out by betting less than that? There are scenarios where you can win only by your opponents getting the Final Jeopardy clue wrong while you get it right. In short, unless you want to memorize every single possible scenario, it’s better to just watch the game and see some of the smart moves some have made and the less-than-smart others have played. And even then it all depends on the Final Jeopardy category and final clue.
But the best rule of thumb is that you want to be in the lead going into Final Jeopardy. That gives you the most options for playing out various scenarios. In my second game, I seesawed in and out of the lead with another player until the final two questions, when he pulled ahead of me by $100. In Final Jeopardy, my only hope was for him to get it wrong, so I doubled my bet minus a dollar. All three of us got the final question right, and he bet smart. I lost by $2.