'Hero-Villain' 'Jeopardy!' Contestant Returns With $20,800 Score: Was It Enough?

"Jeopardy!" contestant Arthur Chu returned in bid to defend his crown.

February 24, 2014, 10:53 AM

Feb. 24, 2014— -- The biggest name in tonight's episode of "Jeopardy!" wasn't host Alex Trebek, but a 30-year-old insurance compliance worker by night and voice-over actor by day.

Arthur Chu, a champ who has attracted criticism for his tactics, returned to the show today and steamrolled past the competition with a pair of $5,000 "Daily Double" bets and work-from-the-bottom picks from the game board for his fifth straight win.

In the pre-taped episode, Chu ended up extending his winning streak and tacking another $20,800 onto his previous $102,800 in winnings.

By the time the "Final Jeopardy!" question rolled around, Chu had more than four times the winnings of his nearest opponent. So it didn't matter when he lost a $10,000 bet on the category, "19th Century People," failing to peg John Brown as the subject of admiration in a Frederick Douglass quote.

Both of Chu's opponents also answered incorrectly, and each bet all their money.

Chu, who is also an aspiring actor, won his first four "Jeopardy!" appearances starting Jan. 28.

A resident of Broadview Heights, a suburb of Cleveland, Chu has said he hopes to donate some of his winnings to a research foundation to find a cure for fibromyalgia, a disease that afflicts his wife, a novelist.

"I can understand it's less pleasant to watch," Chu told ABCNews.com earlier this month of his tactics that utilize "game theory" economics, "but the producers weren't paying me to make the show pleasant to watch. If you were playing for fun, you could talk about poor sportsmanship, but within the rules, it's about winning. If you don't like it, change the rules."

Chu's unorthodox tactics have attracted delight and dismay from "Jeopardy!" fans active across social media.

One viewer tweeted: "This is the face of a Jeopardy villain. Can anyone stop #arthurchu"

Read More: How That 'Jeopardy!' Super Computer Could Make IBM Billions

Called "generous" and a "hero" by other fans, Chu often chooses high-stakes answers first, unlike most contestants. His style of play is "radically different" from that of most players, who go from top to bottom on the board, said Keith Williams, 2003 "Jeopardy!"College Champion.

Williams said before Monday's game that anything could happen.

"He could easily reel off five wins this week, or get tripped up by a tricky 'Daily Double' or 'Final Jeopardy!' clue," Williams said. "That's the beauty of 'Jeopardy!' -- it's so unpredictable. Some of the all-time greatest champions would have lost their first game had another player answered just one clue correctly. Luck plays an outsized role, and Arthur has been successful so far because his strategy takes much of it out of the equation."

After one of his games, Chu forced an unusual tiebreak when he didn't have to, allowing one of his fellow contestants to also go home with $26,800, instead of leaving the show for good with $2,000.

But rather than being altruistic, Chu's strategy was a matter of increasing his own odds of returning the next day. By inducing his opponent to wager everything, he advances regardless if he's right, but he adds another winning combination to his chances: If both he and Collins get it wrong.

"If we simplify 'Jeopardy!' wagering into flipping coins, he's just increased his probability of winning to 75 percent from 50 percent, since a tie is as good as a win," said Williams. "That's a huge incentive to ensure your opponent knows you'll go for the tie."

Williams, whose online tips helped Chu, said game theory economics aren't a new trick to the game. The point of "Jeopardy!" is to come back the next day, either by winning or tying, he said.

"There's no potential upside to wagering more than you absolutely have to to guarantee a tie. Tacking on that extra dollar won't help you if you're right," said Williams, from Brooklyn.

Chu does a number of other things that play to his advantage, such as selecting random clues around the board, which confuses other players accustomed to working from top to bottom, Williams said.

Another part of Chu's strategy is looking for the "Daily Doubles" -- clues on which a player can wager any or all of his total.

"When he finds them, he tends to wager a lot if he's confident, or a nominal amount if he's not," Williams said. "While wagering $5 on a 'Daily Double' might seem like a waste, it has the benefit of taking it out of play for the other contestants, who might use it to their advantage."

ABC News' Michael S. James contributed to this report.

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