On last week's Survivor: China (Thursdays at 8 pm/ET, CBS) the professional poker player and amateur pain in the butt Jean-Robert Bellande, 37, became the second member of the jury after being surprised at tribal council. He talked to TVGuide.com about his strategy of being a "lazy jerk," the real reason Courtney hated him and why he wouldn't do Survivor again.
TVGuide.com: Your name came up before at tribal council; did you have any idea that you'd be going home this time?
Jean-Robert Bellande: Absolutely not — I always expect that my name's going to be on a ballot or two, but I really did not think this was my time to go home. I made a play for James to go, and I think that was probably the best play. As I watched the show, I saw that had I never told Todd about my idea [to get rid of James], everything would have been just fine; they would have voted James out anyway. But because it was now all of a sudden my idea as well, that made Todd a little bit uncomfortable and he got crazy and decided, "Let's vote Jean-Robert home."
TVGuide.com: What exactly was your strategy?
Jean-Robert: My strategy was to be perceived as the lazy jerk, just get under people's skin and be quite not-likable, and then grow on people, become less hated as we [went along]. I kind of started out as the last horse in the race and then I worked my way into the middle of the pack; you saw me becoming a little bit more likable. You can see that Courtney right now doesn't have as much hate for me as she did. That might have been what scared Todd also: All of a sudden, people aren't talking about, "Let's send Jean-Robert home." Todd actually had to do some lobbying to send me home. Before, everybody wanted me to go.
TVGuide.com: For most of the game, you and Courtney seriously did not get along.
Jean-Robert: The conflict was more on her part than mine; she did a lot of bad-mouthing of me. I just didn't really talk to her. For those last nine days, I never had a conversation with her. Whenever it came to the challenges, I was always lobbying for Courtney to play the reward challenge, so we could sit her out in the immunity [because the same player cannot sit out back-to-back challenges]. I was always looking for where Courtney could do the least damage. Everyone on the team felt that way, but I was the one who was audible about it. That got her upset, but her complaining didn't really affect me.
TVGuide.com: Who did you consider your strongest ally?
Jean-Robert: Aaron and I were at each other's throats, but we'd actually made an alliance. That's why he wasn't lobbying for me to go home right before he went [to the other tribe, as part of the twist]. And James was my closest ally. That day when we lost our two strongest warriors [James and Aaron] was a terrible day for Jean-Robert. In my opinion, Aaron kind of got the shaft; he was playing the game very well. You've got to give kudos to James for surviving past that part [the twist]. They should have sent James home before Aaron. James is definitely the biggest threat. The guy is a big favorite in any immunity challenge, and if he makes the final three, he's one of the most liked people. And he's got not one but two immunity idols. Blindsiding him was the move. There's not going to be such a great opportunity coming up. Todd made a huge mistake. Todd's smarter than that — he's actually a smart cat, but he sometimes gets carried away with being devious. I think you'll find that's one of the flaws in his game, that he gets into backstabbing unnecessarily. That was a really, really bad play in the game.
TVGuide.com: After Erik told you that James had the two immunity idols, why did you confront James about them? Were you hoping he'd give you one?
Jean-Robert: I just kind of put it out there as a long shot. I wanted to get some more information from him. [Laughs] All along, even though James refered to me as dumb throughout, he respected me as being the smart one. He knew that I was figuring out a lot of stuff on my own. By him blowing me off in that conversation, it justified my play. It gave me the OK in my own mind to blindside him. I still like the guy a lot.
TVGuide.com: Was the experience of being on Survivor worth it for you?
Jean-Robert: For me, going out there was for one reason and one reason alone: to win a million dollars. So going out there and not winning the million dollars was extremely frustrating. When I look back on it, yeah, I'm glad I did it. I can't say I regret it, because it was definitely an interesting experience. I'm glad it's in my history. [Laughs] But had I known it was going to be like that, I'd much rather have been at the world series playing poker.
TVGuide.com: So you wouldn't do it again.
Jean-Robert: Would I do it again, if I knew that I was not going to win? No way. Oh, no. [Laughs]
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