Jean-Robert Bellande’s time on Survivor China, never mind his polarizing cockiness, has followed him all the way to the World Series of Poker.
In poker, just as on the show, he has fans and detractors. In a profile, ESPN pointed out that “his positively slimy depiction on ‘Survivor: China’ and his willful playing to the cameras are among the aspects of his brand that are sure to emit powerful reactions.” One fellow player, Redmond Lee, told ESPN, “I think he’s an idiot. He’s just … he talks a lot of rubbish, tells people what he thinks they’re doing in certain situations and makes bluffs in silly situations, but he’s running good. I don’t think he’s trying to get under people’s skin. He seems desperate for fame and attention. I think it’s just ‘there’s a camera on me, give me love!'”
Jean-Robert told PokerListings.com in an interview that if he made it to the final table, “we could get some of those people [who watched Survivor] interested in poker … than maybe our legislators might go about making some changes.”
He told ESPN something similar: “I certainly think that my presence at the final table would bring in a new viewership. Two million people watch the WSOP main event live broadcast. Sixteen million watch ‘Survivor’ week to week. There might be a public base out there that doesn’t care too much about poker who might be curious to see how ‘the survivor’ does. Maybe there will be a little press towards that and that could bring in some new viewers,” he said.
Alas, Jean-Robert came in 78th place–out of 7,319, an impressive showing–and thus did not make the final table.