Exclusive Interview: Jean-Robert Bellande of 'Survivor: China'
Exclusive Interview: Jean-Robert Bellande of 'Survivor: China'
On this season of Survivor: China, one contestant had an interesting strategy.  Jean-Robert Bellande, a professional poker player from Las Vegas, went into the game intentionally trying to be disliked.  As he worked his way through the game, he showed a better side to his personality, in the hopes that it would draw people in.  Unfortunately, Jean-Robert's plan never fully worked as he did not form a true alliance in China.  On this week's episode, instead of blindsiding James, the tribe decided to get rid of Jean-Robert first.  Today, he talked to BuddyTV about the stupid move his tribe made and what a player has to do to get him to write their name down for the million dollars.

Below, you will find the complete transcript and mp3 of the interview.

Hey, everybody. This is Gina from BuddyTV, and I'm talking to Jean-Robert from Survivor: China. Have you been a Survivor fan before, and was the show always something you wanted to part of?

I was a big fan of Survivor, the initial season, and watched it every Thursday like clockwork. Since then, I was a nightclub promoter for three years, so Thursday nights was one of the nights I did work, I didn't get to watch Survivor new shows. But I did watch it that first season and I did love it.

Was Survivor: China the first season that you tried out for?

Yes, it is. Yes, it was.

So you're a professional poker player, and I'm wondering how long you've been doing it, and how you got into doing it in the first place.

I have been playing poker for about ten years, but I have been playing poker exclusively as my only form of income for about six years now. I got to be pretty good at it. There was a couple years after I started playing poker that I got into No Limit Hold 'Em, and tournament No Limit Hold 'Em, which is what I specialize in now. And, I like my game about as well as anybody's.

Now, how did you feel that you could have applied your poker background to the game of Survivor?

Well, Survivor is a social game, and poker has a lot of social aspects to it as well. When I'm playing, one of the things I do is, I did a lot of talking and intimidating and feeling out of the other player with my table strategy, and it gives me an edge. I get people so annoyed sometimes at a table that they want to beat me so badly that they may play compromised hands against me. They're making plays that they normally wouldn't do, so I've got them out of that comfort zone. And often times, it means them just giving me their chips. In Survivor, I went in there, I was kind of a jerk, and had everybody not liking me. And part of my strategy was to become more likeable to a point where they think that guy is not that bad anybody.

You went into the game and you seemed like you were okay with being disliked and being the outsider for a while.

I wasn't "okay" with being disliked, I was planning on being disliked. That was the plan.

Would you say that outside of the game, you're a different person than who you were in China?

Yes and no. I'm not as bull-s---y or as much of a jerk as I was putting on to be as occurs on the show. But my in-your-face attitude, and just kind of, I say exactly what's on my mind about what I think and what I plan to do, and then go ahead and doing it, that is a lot of who I am.

Why would it make sense for the tribe to get rid of you, instead of James, who's sitting on two immunity idols?

Well, that's exactly the question that's going through my mind. James was physically fit and capable in the challenges to come. And, the guy had two immunity idols. I mean, he is by all means perceived in the game as the biggest threat. And when I make my play to try and get rid of James, I went to the tribal council putting on a great act on how we're going to vote Peih-Gee out, and it was inevitable that she was going home. I wanted James to feel real comfortable with it, that there's no way he pull out that immunity idol. And then, we just blindsided him right there. Getting James at this point was moot because we were only going to have one more week and now all we have to do is win a couple of the individual immunities, which he's always going to be the favorite for, and then, pull out the immunity idol, and then he makes the final two or three, whatever the final situation is, and he's going to get the vote.

Now, when you sit on the jury, what factors do you consider when you're going to give someone a million dollars?

Well, there are several factors that come into play. One is, how well did this person play the game? How much backstabbing does this person do? Are they here because the situation has brought them here, or did they create their fate to get here? Like, in the case of Courtney, if Courtney makes it, is she getting there because she played the game so well, or is it because, well, now she's no longer perceived as a threat. At this stage, I predicted that once we made it to the merge, that there's a good chance that she may go a little bit further.

Some people are going to get further because of their plan to get there, and some people are going to get there because of their luck. I thought it was pretty unlucky that James and Aaron got kicked off on the trout swap thing, and Aaron got sent home. In my opinion, Aaron was playing an excellent game and it was kind of an unlucky draw that he got the short stick. And there's people in the game right now that are less deserving than Aaron, let's say. You know, even Jaime. Jaime got a little bit unlucky as well. So, I mean, when I'm on the jury, looking at why is this person here, and how much did they contribute to get here. Likeability is not as much of a factor to me as strategy.

Well, we look forward to seeing more of you on the jury and especially at the live reunion. I just wanted to thank you for your time, Jean-Robert.

Oh, it's my pleasure.

- Gina Scarpa, BuddyTV Staff Writer
(Image courtesy of CBS)