‘Jeopardy!’ Champ Cris Pannullo Wins 21st Game, Poker Credited for Historic Run

Jeopardy! is at it again. The popular syndicated game show is generating headlines for another contestant going on a nearly unprecedented winning run.

Jeopardy! Cris Pannullo poker Ken Jennings James Holzhauer
Jeopardy! Cris Pannullo poker Ken Jennings James Holzhauer
Current “Jeopardy!” champion Cris Pannullo has won the past 21 games for a total win of nearly $750K. (Image: Sony Pictures)

The current champ is 38-year-old Cris Pannullo, a New Jersey native who resides in Ocean City. Pannullo won his 21st straight game during Monday’s airing with a strong Double Jeopardy! round.

Pannullo, a “customer success operations manager” by day, is close to earning a spot on the game show’s top-five winners list. He needs just two more wins to tie Mattea Roach with 23 victories. Mattea’s run came earlier this year in a streak that ran from April 5 through May 6.

“Jeopardy!” host Ken Jennings holds the record for most consecutive games won at 74.

Pannullo’s run already ranks him fifth in terms of regular gameplay winnings (tournaments and special shows excluded). Pannullo, through 21 games, has won $748,286.

That trails only Jennings ($2.52 million), James Holzhauer ($2.462 million), Matt Amodio ($1.518 million), and Amy Schneider ($1.382 million). Schneider’s run ended in January 2022.

Pannullo appeared on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? in 2018, but left empty-handed after missing the $7,000 question.

Poker Role

Pannullo has mentioned that he’s no stranger to risk and reward. The New Jerseyan previously told Jennings that he’s a former poker player.

Jennings on Monday night’s show provided a recap highlighting Pannullo’s run.

Our champion Cris Pannullo has been with us for a few weeks now and what have we learned? Well, we know he’s a former poker player who is comfortable with big ‘Daily Double’ wagers despite not being a risk-taker in everyday life,” Jennings said.

“He has a 10-year-old pet rabbit named Lentils, his girlfriend Heather celebrates a birthday on February 21, a number he often incorporates into his Final Jeopardy! wagers,” Jennings continued. “He’s the oldest of five siblings, loves the movie Spaceballs, hates olives, and his Jeopardy! lunch of choice — chickpea salad with chicken.”

The intro, which some Jeopardy! viewers panned on social media for Jennings seemingly gushing over the rising star, eventually broke Pannullo’s poker face, which was rather stoic throughout the foreword.

Along with big Daily Double bets and dominating his challengers, Pannullo shares with Holzhauer a love for poker. Holzhauer ranks fourth in consecutive games won at 32. He also holds each of the 10 largest single-game wins, his all-time best showing coming during the April 17, 2019 airing, when he won $131,127.

Holzhauer, like Pannullo, fancies poker, and credits the card game for his Jeopardy! proficiency. Jennings has likened Pannullo’s run to Holzhauer’s, as the two share backgrounds in gambling by way of poker. Holzhauer, a Las Vegas resident, also has a considerable history as a professional sports bettor.

Jennings recently asked Pannullo if he’s considered mimicking Holzhauer’s “all-in” push during a Daily Double wager, imitating a poker player moving all their chips to the center of the felt. Pannullo, who doesn’t risk it all nearly as often as Holzhauer, answered Jennings, “I’m not as good as James Holzhauer.”

Time will tell if that’s true.

Jeopardy! Odds

Ever wonder what the correct answer rate for the first round compared with the second round of Jeopardy! is? Casino.org recently tallied decades of data to determine the probability of each clue being answered correctly in each round for each question.

The $2,000 questions in the Double Jeopardy! round, supposedly the six most-difficult questions during the two rounds before Final Jeopardy!, are answered incorrectly more than correctly. Casino.org found that the $2,000 clue is answered correctly just 0.8 times for every wrong answer.

By comparison, the six $100 questions in the first round are answered 8.6 times correctly for each wrong answer. For more Jeopardy! insights, check out our “Jeopardy!” page.

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