GREENSBORO — Tune in tonight and watch some of the greatest players from “Jeopardy!” display their skill — including one from the Gate City.
Alex Jacob won the show’s 2015 Tournament of Champions. Now, he is among 18 “Jeopardy!” champions competing in the All-Star Games, the quiz show’s first tournament played with teams.
“It’s an honor to be a part of it,” Jacob said Thursday from his Greensboro home. “It really inspires you to bring your best game and try to prove that you belong in that group of the best players ever.”
For the All-Star Games, players are divided into six teams of three people. Jacob plays on the team led by Buzzy Cohen, who won the 2017 Tournament of Champions, and 2015 Teachers’ Tournament champion Jennifer Giles.
Cohen had the No. 1 draft pick when teams were chosen, and picked Jacob.
“It’s a completely different format and something that’s new for all of us,” Jacob said. “It opens up different strategic possibilities and things that none of us have ever really thought about in terms of a normal show.”
Jacob, 34, has had quite an unusual career. A graduate of Yale University in economics and math, he played poker professionally before becoming a contestant on “Jeopardy!”
He won the 2006 main event at the U.S. Poker Championship. As of 2012, his tournament winnings exceeded $2.6 million.
After leaving professional poker, Jacob became a contestant on “Jeopardy!” in 2015.
He won six games before losing the seventh. Those appearances won him $151,802.
His victories qualified him for the 2015 Tournament of Champions, where he collected the grand prize of $250,000.
He lived in Chicago back then. In 2016, he and his wife, Jennafer, moved to Greensboro, where her family lived.
He now works as a freelance trivia writer for various apps and organizations.
Jacob traces his love of “Jeopardy!” and trivia back to childhood.
“I have always loved trivia and had a good knack for quick recall of names and different facts,” he said. “I watched the show with my mom when I was really young and just wanted to know more answers.”
Around 2010, he discovered a fan website called the J! Archive, that had all the questions ever asked on the show.
“I made it a hobby or obsession to learn everything I could, and it just started from there,” he said.
In January, he went to California to tape the “Jeopardy!” All-Star Games.
He and his teammates — Cohen as captain and Giles — had prepared for three months.
Jacob made 25,000 flash cards for practices. They met for a weekend and played more than 50 games of mock “Jeopardy!”
The first night of Match One aired Wednesday. Jacob put Cohen’s team in second place.
After Thursday night’s episode, they remained in second place with $26,200.
Tonight, Jacob and his teammates will play the second game of Match One. The two-game total will determine the match’s winner.
The winning team will take home $1 million. The final episode of the All-Star Games airs March 5.
Jacob knows how it ends, but he isn’t saying.
“It was a great experience,” he said. “We had a great team, a great captain. We are all very hungry for this, and we all came to win.”