’Jeopardy!’ champ playing in World Series of Poker events

LAS VEGAS — “Jeopardy!” champion and professional sports gambler James Holzhauer made his World Series of Poker debut on Monday, with plans to donate half his winnings to charity.

Holzhauer was competing in a No-Limit Hold’em event and planned to partner later in the day with Poker Hall of Famer Mike Sexton in another contest, said tournament spokesman Seth Palansky.

Holzhauer told tournament officials he planned to donate winnings to a Las Vegas non-profit for homeless displaced and disadvantaged high school students, called Project 150.

Holzhauer played online poker semi-professionally in the early 2000s, but makes a living now with sports betting.

He became a celebrity during a 32-game “Jeopardy!” win streak, earning more than $2.4 million before losing in early June. He ended his run a little more than $58,000 shy of the overall earnings record set by Ken Jennings, who won 74 games in 2004.

Holzhauer left with the 16 highest one-day scores in the show’s history.

He has taken part in several events in Las Vegas in recent weeks, and donated $10,000 in May to Project 150. He and his wife Melissa also contributed $10,000 to a different non-profit school dropout prevention program called Communities In Schools of Nevada.

Holzhauer made a recent donation of about $1,100 in “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek’s name to a pancreatic cancer walk in Holzhauer’s hometown, Naperville, Illinois.

Trebek, 78, announced earlier this year that he was being treated for advanced pancreatic cancer and said last month that doctors told him he’s in “near remission.”

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