‘Jeopardy!’ Champs Cris Pannullo, James Holzhauer Have Same Hobby


While regular Jeopardy! broadcasts may be on hiatus for now, fans are still talking about defending champion Cris Pannullo. The New Jersey native has won a total of 11 games so far and stands to win even more once regular broadcasts resume. Fans are already comparing Pannullo to one of the most famous Jeopardy! players to date, and it turns out they have more in common than just their success on the popular game show.

Just Like James Holzhauer?

Cris Pannullo has had an impressive two-week run on Jeopardy! so far. Throughout his 11-game win streak, Pannullo has racked up $356,702 in earnings. If he wins two more games, he’ll be tied with Matt Jackson for the 10th-longest win streak in Jeopardy! history. Not to mention, if he wins $54,298 more, he’ll take 10th place for most winnings in regular-season play (not including Jeopardy! tournaments).

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So, no matter how you cut it, Pannullo is on the cusp of becoming yet another Jeopardy! legend. However, fans haven’t been able to stop comparing Pannullo to another legendary Jeopardy! champion: James Holzhauer. Like Holzhauer, Pannullo has a history of professional gambling. Holzhauer was a semi-professional poker player in the early aughts before shifting to professional sports gambling. Similarly, Pannullo admitted in his first game that he was a professional poker player for a few years.

This is important because their shared pastime has characterized both of the champion’s gameplays so far. Like Holzhauer, Pannullo has been able to maximize his winnings by placing large, risky bets. Holzhauer has the third-most lifetime winnings in Jeopardy! history at $2,962,216.

Interestingly, Holzhauer trails behind top-runner Ken Jennings in regular season winnings by less than $60,000. That’s beyond impressive considering his wining streak was only 32 games to Jennings’ 74. This means he won almost as much as Jennings in less than half the games—so he must really know how to gamble.

Not All They Have In Common

However, his history as a poker player isn’t the only thing Pannullo has in common with Holzhauer. Fans have noticed that Pannullo even carries himself like the legend—and it’s not just his steely poker face. Pannullo stands at the podium with his arms crossed in front of him. According to Jeopardy! strategists, this is the fastest way to buzz in.

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Fritz Holznagel first wrote about the stance in his book Secrets of The Buzzer, a strategy book heavily touted by Holzhauer. We wouldn’t be surprised if Pannullo also perused the book in preparation for his Jeopardy! appearance. Time will only tell if Pannullo will go as far as Holzhauer, but things are looking good for the New Jersey native!

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