I’ll Take Poker Pros Turned Jeopardy! Champs for $500, Alex.
This is the story of former poker professional Alex Jacob, who won Jeopardy!’s 2015 Tournament of Champions.
The 33-year-old Jacob—nicknamed “Fro-Poker,” on account of his hairdo—was first known for winning the 2006 United States Poker Championship main event on ESPN.
He went on to make several final tables at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) and World Poker Tour (WPT) before leaving poker and becoming a Jeopardy! champion. He is also widely known for exhibiting good sportsmanship, and for being a gracious winner.
Alex Jacob’s Early Life and Poker
Perhaps not surprisingly, Alex Jacob was valedictorian of his high school class in 2002 before graduating from Yale University in May 2006 with a degree in economics and mathematics.
In 2006, Jacob won the U.S. Poker Championship for which he earned a whopping $878,500, his biggest payday.
That same year Jacob was runner up at the WPT Foxwoods tournament, winning $655,507. Altogether, Jacob has made four WSOP final tables including placing third in Event #3 at the 2007 WSOP for $282,367.
As of 2017, Jacob has won over $2.6 million in live tournament winnings. He has clearly taken a step back from poker with his Hendon Mob page displaying only one cash since 2012. (Look
Alex Jacob Jeopardy! Run
After leaving professional poker, Jacob became a currency trader in Chicago.
Alex Jacob later appeared on the popular game show Jeopardy! where he amassed six wins in April 2015, ultimately winning nearly $152,000. His prowess landed him in the Top 15 all-time Jeopardy! winners and qualified him for the 2015 Tournament of Champions.
Alex Jacob went on to win the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions for a grand prize of $250,000.
Despite his success, Card Player Magazine reported that many Jeopardy! fans were irked at Jacob’s “unconventional” playing style. He would move from category to category seeking Daily Doubles and, when found, he would usually go “all in,” making bets large enough to provide him with insurmountable leads, or bet small enough to thwart an opponent’s ability to double up.
— Alex Jacob (@whoisalexjacob) April 22, 2016
According to Keith Williams, 2003 Jeopardy! College Champion and game strategist, Jacob also set himself apart with a “stalling tactic.” Jacob would slow the game by waiting a few seconds before answering questions, and by drawing out category names, to take just a couple examples. Williams asserts that such behavior is well within the game’s rules; however, this tactic is rarely used by most players, who perhaps believe that taking one’s time might give the impression of cheating.
In essence, Jacob “took every advantage he could identify,” including some that most other Jeopardy! players failed to consider. Of course, it also helps that Jacob is in fact a great trivia player with an incredible wealth of knowledge.
Check out this abridged video of Jacob’s unparalleled journey to become Jeopardy!’s Tournament of Champions winner.
The moral of Jacob’s story is that while most successful poker players are pretty darn smart, not many are equally as gracious. Jacob has both qualities, and his success is well-deserved.
He hasn’t been very active recently, but you can follow Alex Jacob Twitter here.
Until next time!
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Natalie Faulk is a Las Vegas-based freelance writer/blogger and the author of several books. She is an avid low-stakes (for now) poker player and huge Vegas Golden Knights fan.