Man vs. Machine on 'Jeopardy!': Bettors Are Gambling on the Chips

Jeopardy! Man vs. Machine: Watson Ties on Day One as Online Gamblers CheerIBM's supercomputer Watson racked up $5,000 in winnings on the first day of the three-day man vs. machine Jeopardy! challenge Monday -- but so did one of its two competitors, trivia master Brad Rutter. Even so, Rutter and fellow Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings, who managed to rack up just $2,000, face long odds against in the contest, at least according those willing to bet their own money on the action.

According to online gaming site Bodog, Rutter and Jennings are both carrying 5-2 odds, while Watson is running at 5-6. This means a $100 bet on Rutter or Jennings would yield a net profit of $250, while the same bet on IBM's (IBM) Watson would be worth only $83.33.

"The shrewd bettors are backing Watson, while Jennings bettors are more loyalty-based," says Ed Pownall, Bodog spokesman. "The odds strongly suggest Watson will be the winner. If it were more of a level playing field and you had three guys off the street playing, you might see odds more like 5-2, 3-1, or 7-2."

With only 962 bets placed in the short mid- to late-January window, a modest $4,700 is on the table. Big Blue's Watson has $3,630 riding on it, while Jennings has $650 and Rutter $420. The average bet is a bit more than $20 -- not likely to break the bank for anyone.

Pownall says betting was closed early because Jeopardy! is prerecorded and they had to halt wagering once filming of the challenge began. Other sites, like, offer forums where a handful of members decided to get a little side action of their own going prior to the first round's airing on Monday.

In round two tonight, Rutter is likely to stick with his strategy of picking categories where the cues are short and concepts abstract, while Watson has the benefit of machine learning and artificial intelligence, which means the more information he's exposed to, the better his response is likely to be.

Whether Jennings' plan of playing more aggressively will pay off in the Double Jeopardy round is unclear, but he may need to devise a new strategy to keep up with both his human and silicon competition.

How would you bet?

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Basics Of The Stock Market

Stock Market 101 - everything you need to know but were afraid to ask!

View Course »

What is Inflation?

Why do prices go up?

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

I can't understand why writers can't get their facts correct. In her article about Jepopardy Dawn K. states that it is produced by CBS. Why would CBS produce a show that has been on ABC for ages just like Wheel of Fortune. I see she works for the Orange County Register in Southern California which I receive daily and this explains why all the mis-information same as I see in the newspaper.

February 16 2011 at 3:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jeffmgcar's comment

I don't know one way or the other who produces it, but there are shows that are produced by networks other than the one they are on. They are owned by companies that are subsidiaries of the network or something but they were purchased by other networks for broadcast. Besides, Jeopardy is in syndication. Here in Minneapolis it airs on the NBC affiliate KARE-11.

February 17 2011 at 2:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Place the computer on the same playing field as the two humans.
The humans must listen and/or read the question while the computer
receives the question in text(digital) form. Computers have voice
recognition and visual recognition. Make the computer read and listen
and then answer then I will say the game is fair or on the level.

February 15 2011 at 8:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Final Jeopardy: Watson too bad you weren't in the military. Before every examination final istructions are: RTFQ. Sorry, Watson, Toronto isn't a U.S. City.

February 15 2011 at 8:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

VSYM busting out

February 15 2011 at 7:43 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I watched Jeopardy this afternoon and beat the computer on 7 questions. He ain't so bad !

February 15 2011 at 6:39 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

The ability to arrive at an answer can be evenly matched, but the "click-in" rate gives Watson an unfair advantage. All three contestants will often arrive at an answer before Trebek finishes reading the question - - so it boils down to determining when it is legal to "click in". If Jennings or Rutter will manage to click in within a few milliseconds, much of the time, then Watson can click in within ONE millisecond, or even a time interval measured in MICROseconds. Each clue is surrounded by a frame of light which illuminates (not visible to the TV audience, only in the studio)... once it is legal to click in (i.e., when Trebek stops talking - - this event itself is subject to "sampling" - when his lips stop moving? when his vocal cords stop vibrating? when the sound reaches the judges' microphones?) Watson should have a "blink rate" similar to humans, and should be required to "watch" for the frame of light to come on. That way, it can introduce an element of luck - - is Watson "watching" when the light says go? or can a human click in and prove to be competitive with the buzzer?

Rex, in the midwest

February 15 2011 at 6:37 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

I'm sorry Alex, I'm afraid I can't do that.

February 15 2011 at 6:19 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to DAVID SHANNON's comment

Yikes! HaHaHa

February 15 2011 at 6:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Open the pod doors

February 15 2011 at 10:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Jeopardy is definately on ABC in the LA area; can't speak for other markets. Watson will likely win unless the questions are too complex (aka cat/mouse/rat example). I love Jeopardy, have since it was on daytime with Art Flemming. I find the whold experiment fascinating!

February 15 2011 at 6:10 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

People, it isn't about googling the information. It's about understanding the question. If I ask you, "On House last night did Wilson's Persian cat eat a rat or a mouse?" you'll understand what I want to know. Type that into a computer it'll spit out info about houses, cats, people named Wilson, mice, rats, eating, etc. Watson has to first recognize what it is being asked before it can give the right answer.

February 15 2011 at 5:59 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ajnckls's comment

Absolutely right. By the way, it was a mouse.

February 15 2011 at 6:02 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

I bet Watson

February 15 2011 at 5:10 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply