LAS VEGAS — “Jeopardy!” champion and professional sports gambler James Holzhauer made his World Series of Poker debut on Monday, telling event officials he’ll donate half his winnings to charity.
Holzhauer won the first hand he played 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, tournament spokesman Seth Palansky said.
Holzhauer said he planned to donate winnings to a Las Vegas nonprofit 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 by winning 32 consecutive “Jeopardy!” games and raking in more than $2.4 million before he lost 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 nonprofit 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 of Naperville, Illinois.
Trebek, 78, announced earlier this year that he was being treated for advanced pancreatic cancer. He said last month that doctors told him he’s in “near remission.”
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