If you asked me who I thought would win Big Brother 18 right now, I’d probably have to say Paulie Calafiore. Cody’s brother is definitely a little too cocky and arrogant, but for some reason he seems to have the majority of the house fooled. Not me.

As someone who’s been covering Big Brother and watching the live feeds every single day since season 12, I’ve picked up a few things about winning strategies. And it’s very obvious to me that Paulie is using Derrick’s playbook.

Derrick, of course, was the winner of season 16, when Paulie’s brother Cody finished second. Derrick is still good friends with the Calafiores and based on how Paulie is playing the game, he has clearly learned more from Derrick than from Cody.

If you don’t believe me, here are five examples of things Paulie has done on Big Brother 18 that lead me to conclude he’s trying to play Derrick’s game.

The Onion Strategy

While studying Derrick’s game, one major takeaway emerged. He always had a majority sub-alliance within every alliance he made. Like an onion, there’s an outside layer that can be peeled away, then another layer to peel away, all the way down to the center. The Bomb Squads started with eight people, but inside of it was the Detonators, a five-person sub-alliance. Inside of that was originally Los Tres Amigos (Derrick, Cody and Zach), though eventually Zach got swapped out for Frankie because of Team America. And inside that was the Hitmen. So Derrick had two inside of three inside of five inside of eight.

Paulie is similarly protected, with layers and layers surrounding him. With 12 people left, Frank and Bridgette are obviously on the outside of the main 10. But then Victor and Da’Vonne are the next layer of the onion, leaving eight. Michelle seems to be on the outside of that as Paulie has the showmances and his bros in Nicole, Corey, James, Natalie, Zakiyah and Paul. Then the women are the next layer, leaving four guys in the middle. Paulie has a trio with Corey and Paul and duos with both of them, ensuring him the majority at all times.

So Paulie has a pair of twos inside a three inside a four inside a seven inside an eight inside a 10. That’s a very well-protected onion bulb.

Finding a Cody

Very early on, Derrick aligned with Cody, knowing that he was a young buck who could help by winning competitions and keeping him safe. He also knew that Cody wasn’t as well-versed in the game as he was, making it easier to beat him in the Final 2. Paulie has not only done that, but he’s doubled down. He has both Corey and Paul as his main boys, either one of whom would make an excellent second-in-command. They are both loyal, committed and too naïve in the game to know any better.

But Paulie has gone a step further, assembling an entire crew for his endgame just like Derrick. He has the loyal follower who is easy to manipulate (James is the new Caleb), he has the competitively weak naïve girl who does what he says (Zakiyah is the new Victoria) and Paulie’s top lieutenant is flirting with a girl who they can string along until they need to cut her (sorry, but Nicole is the new Christine).

Making It a Group Type Thing

Season 16 had more unanimous house votes than any other season, due largely to Derrick’s influence. He fought hard to keep the house united as one, playing as a big group and convincing everyone to always be on the same page. When Nicole returned, he told his group (Cody, Caleb, Frankie, Christine and Victoria) that no one was allowed to talk to Nicole or Donny, that they needed to be isolated and shut out. And when the Rewind Button appeared, he made sure they all talked about it first so they could agree as a group whether or not to push it.

Paulie does the exact same thing, always telling everyone to stick together, to isolate the outsiders (Frank and Bridgette) and making sure that everyone in the house always has the exact same targets for eviction. Week 5 is the perfect example, as he and others have spent so much time isolating Frank and Bridgette that he ensured anyone would’ve nominated those two, even making James break his word.

Going Undercover

One of the most ingenious bits of strategy from Derrick was how he went undercover, just like he does as a cop. He walked into the house as a nerdy married dad, but then he started changing his appearance and the way he acted to fit in with the younger people. The show even did a segment on it, with Derrick explaining the strategic merit.

Now look at Paulie. He came into the game as a clean-shaven pretty boy, but then he grew out his beard and got a haircut so that he and Paul are basically twins. Not only has it succeeded in getting Paul to completely trust him, but it also helps to take away the stigma of being Cody’s brother since he’s no longer just a baby-faced hottie.

bb18_paulie_calafiore_800x1000_0.jpgTaking Advice from Derrick

I saved the most damning bit of empirical evidence for last: Paulie has literally told other HGs he’s playing Derrick’s game. On multiple occasions, he actually talks about how Derrick gave him advice on how to play the game. Derrick is the one who told him to evict Vanessa Rousso or her sister as soon as possible if they were in the house. Paulie has also mentioned Derrick’s advice that if any of his boys are getting close to a girl, you need to take that girl out right away.

Over the years, one of the biggest giveaways I’ve noticed on Big Brother is that whenever a houseguest accuses someone else of doing something, it’s usually because they’re doing it themselves. When Paulie targeted Tiffany, he constantly accused her of playing just like her sister Vanessa, using her playbook. Methinks he doth protest too much, and that he was just worried because he knows he’s using Derrick’s playbook.

Is Paulie playing Derrick’s game? If so, do you think it will work and he’ll win? Only time will tell on Big Brother 18.

(Image courtesy of CBS)

John Kubicek

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

John watches nearly every show on TV, but he specializes in sci-fi/fantasy like The Vampire DiariesSupernatural and True Blood. However, he can also be found writing about everything from Survivor and Glee to One Tree Hill and Smallville.