Jeopardy is a game of reflexes and psychology and momentum as much as it is a test of knowledge. It’s not about who knows the answer – usually all three of us know the answer – but who can buzz in and spit out that answer the fastest, under pressure. And in that context “Throwing opponents off” is very much the name of the game. The tiny bit of help you get from being the only one to know what clue is coming next, plus the confidence boost you get by “throwing off” the other players by presenting them the clues in an order they didn’t expect — that’s invaluable.
The stakes in Jeopardy are really clear. Coming back to play again is so important it outweighs everything else – you still have a better chance to make more money even if you win with $1 (as one champion in Jeopardy history famously did) than if you get sent home with a consolation prize and your Jeopardy experience is over. You shouldn’t even think of your score during the game as “dollars”, because it isn’t dollars, it’s points, which only transform into dollars if you win the game. Otherwise, if you get second place, even if the board says you got second place with $49,000 or whatever, that money all disappears and you just go home with the consolation prize. This is something I think a lot of people watching at home aren’t clear on and don’t remember when they think about wagering.