Updated! Tournament Wild Cards – What Score Should I Aim For?


Prior to the College Tournament, I introduced a model for predicting a player’s chances of qualifying as a wild card for the semifinals if they did not win a game. This model took the combinatorics from Keith Williams at The Final Wager back in 2015 but used slightly different percentages.

Last updated: December 8, 2018. Now includes a model for supertournaments and also includes Season 35 Teen Tournament data.

I have now analyzed all four of Jeopardy!’s regular tournaments (Teen, College, Teachers, and the Tournament of Champions). Once the update is fully complete, I will include all tournament quarterfinal scores that I can find; I recently analyzed the difference in Daily Double bets pre- and post-doubling to find that there was not enough of a significant difference to justify not including pre-2001 scores in my model. I also have not included the Battle of the Decades and Million Dollar Masters in with the Tournament of Champions data, because I feel that the field quality in the super-tournaments are different enough that I think it would skew the data.

Because my update now includes all possible data, I have returned to using a Z-score instead of the Student’s t-score for the College Tournament and the Tournament of Champions. The Teachers Tournament will still use the Student’s t-score in its model for the foreseeable future, due to there having been significantly fewer Teachers Tournaments.

Update (August 21, 2018): I have now expanded the model to include supertournaments (of the Million Dollar Masters / Battle of the Decades vein), in a separate model, just in case a future supertournament includes wild cards.

The combinatorics calculations are similar to that mentioned in my College Wild Card post. However, in these charts:

  • For the QF Finishing Position: Unknown column, 9 non-winning scores to come are assumed (with a maximum of three scores beating the player’s score.)
  • For the QF Finishing Position: 3rd column, 8 non-winning scores to come are assumed (with a maximum of two scores beating the player’s score.)
  • For the QF Finishing Position: 2nd column, 8 non-winning scores to come are assumed (with a maximum of three scores beating the player’s score.)

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These graphics show the percent chances of qualifying from each position (known and unknown) for each $1,000 score between $0 and $20,000, as well as other pertinent data.


Teachers Tournament:

Teachers Tournament chances of qualifying as a wild card for each finishing position (known and unknown) and score from $0 to $20,000.(Last updated: August 21, 2018.)


Tournament of Champions:

Tournament of Champions chances of qualifying as a wild card for each finishing position (known and unknown) and score from $0 to $20,000. Last updated: November 10, 2017 (after Season 34’s Tournament of Champions.)


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College Tournament:

College Championship chances of qualifying as a wild card for each finishing position (known and unknown) and score from $0 to $20,000. Last updated: August 21, 2018.


Teen Tournament:

Teen Tournament chances of qualifying as a wild card for each finishing position (known and unknown) and score from $0 to $20,000. (Updated December 8, 2018.)


Supertournaments (Battle of the Decades/Million Dollar Masters/etc.)

Supertournament chances of qualifying as a wild card for each finishing position (known and unknown) and score from $0 to $25,000. Last updated: August 21, 2018.


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1 Comment on "Updated! Tournament Wild Cards – What Score Should I Aim For?"

  1. A huge thank-you to Robert Mcielwain, whose late 80s and early 90s data was invaluable in completing the set of College Championship data.

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