Official Rules of the Jeopardy Game

By Jo Pennypacker

Jeopardy, developed by Merv Griffin, is a game that has been around for more than 40 years. Art Fleming was the original host, but Alex Trebeck took over in 1984 and still hosts the show today. During that time, the game has changed some, but the basic premise of the game remains, in which the answers are given and the contestants need to form their replies in the form of a question.

Object of Game

Three contestants vie to answer the most questions. The one who accumulates the most money in three rounds ends up the winner and can return the next day to play against two new contestants. Strategy is the name of the game, especially when it comes to Final Jeopardy.

Playing Jeopardy

The game starts with the host revealing the six categories in that round. Each of the five questions in the category is worth $100 to $500. The champion from the previous day or the person chosen to start will pick a category and an amount. In other words, if one of the categories is "Animals," the player may select Animals for $300. The $100 questions are the easiest, and the questions get harder as they move up to the $500 ones. The round ends when either the timer runs out or the players have answered the 30 questions. Each player only has a limited amount of time to answer the question.

When the question shows, a player rings in with an answer. If he is correct, the money adds to his score and he gets to choose the next question. If he is wrong or forgets to answer in the form of a question, he loses that amount and the other contestants get a chance to answer the question. If no one gets the answer correct, the player who answered the last correct question is in control.

In this round, there is one Daily Double. Only the player who picks the Daily Double can answer it. This player can decide how much he wants to wager--it doesn't have to be the amount the question was that he picked. In other words, if he picked "Animals" for $300, and a Daily Double comes up, he can then wager $500. In the Jeopardy round, the most a player can wager is $500 unless he has more than that accumulated already.

Double Jeopardy

In the Double Jeopardy round, the amounts range from $200 to $1,000--double what they were in the Jeopardy round. Play is the same in this round as it is in the Jeopardy round except now there are two Daily Doubles and six new categories. Players can now wager up to $1,000 in Double Jeopardy; unless they have more than that amount, in which case they can wager up to the amount that they have.

Final Jeopardy

Final Jeopardy is very different from the first two rounds. First, if a player is in the negative or has zero, he can't play. After the players see the category, they make a wager, written down where the other players can't see it. This is where the strategy comes in--you must decide what you need to wager to win, and take into consideration how much the other players have. Once they see the question, contestants have 30 seconds to write down their answer in the form of a question. Going from the player who has the least amount of money to the one with the highest, the players reveal their answers. If they are correct, the amount they wagered is added to their overall amount; if they are wrong, the amount they wagered is deducted from their total amount. Whoever has the highest amount of money at the end is the winner.


Many different Special Jeopardy games exist. These include College Jeopardy, which is open to only college students; Champion Jeopardy, which is for retired champions; and versions of Jeopardy played in the classroom, such as Civics Jeopardy (see Resources).

About the Author

Jo Pennypacker has been writing for over 20 years. In high school, she wrote on the school newspaper and went on to do technical writing for the State of New Jersey and content writing for eHow and She enjoys researching topics and learning about new areas of interest.