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Woo Does Survivor Poker Pro Jean Robert Bellande

Written by:
Jenny Woo
Published on:
Jul/31/2008

I did an interview with poker pro Jean Robert Bellande a couple of days ago and I would have never realized how laid back this guy was unlike some of the Team Bodog members - ahem - cough - David - cough - Williams. 

Jenny first became familiar with Jean Robert when he was a contestant on Survivor China and later found out of his professional poker career after the show made it be known as that being his occupation. I do have to say that we did have to reschedule our interview a couple of times because (surprise surprise) he was playing poker, but it was definitely worth it. Jenny: You¹ve been a nightclub owner and promoter with a Bachelor's of Arts degree in Marketing. How old were you when you started playing casually and then professionally?

Jean Robert: I started playing around 27 years old.

Jenny: And how old are you now, if you don¹t mind me asking?

Jean Robert: 37

Jenny: Did you start playing casually or professionally at 27?

Jean Robert: Casually.

Jenny: And how old were you when you turned pro?

Jean Robert: 30

Jenny: Don't ask me to try to do the math here. You joined Team Bodog back in March. How has the experience been thus far?

Jean Robert: I joined them on a short-term deal, basically a 6-month deal. It seems like they¹ve been pretty happy with the exposure they¹ve gotten with me and everything. They¹ve indicated that they¹re very serious about resigning. My agent is in negotiations with them now.

Jenny: Have you been able to hang out with Calvin Ayre at all? I find him so sexy but a bit of a blowhard. No pun intended if you are reading Calvin hehe.

Jean Robert: No. I met Calvin 3 years ago at a Bodog party. It¹s interesting because I wanted to sign with Bodog years before we actually signed. I always felt that they¹re in the pulse of what¹s Hollywood cool.  Me being in the nightclub background, I just thought we were the perfect fit. They had actually displayed some interest signing me years ago and somehow things kind of fell by the waist side. Both Ultimate Betand Bodog put in some serious talks with me and then nothing happened and then everything got put on hold for like a year and a half. I was really happy to sign with them. I would rather be with them then anyone.

Jenny: Your aggressive plays at the poker table earned you the nickname "Action Bob". Was that a name people started calling you or is there someone specific that is responsible for that label? And when did the name stick? By the way, my old High School football team used to call me "Action Jenny" so we got something in common at least other than you are French and I have had some French in me on more than one occasion.  .

Jean Robert: Actually "Action Bob" is not even me. Someone mentioned that a long time ago and wasn¹t accurate. When I use to play pool I use to be known for always being in action. People use to come out to the parking lot trying to negotiate deals with me before I came in because they knew when I got in the pool room I would always be in action so I had a action reputation.

Jenny: Well at least we got that cleared up. They used to find me under the bleachers back when I had the name.

Jean Robert: There was actually another guy named "Action Bob" on the east coast.

Jenny: Oh really. Well "Action Bob" comes up with your name.

Jean Robert: Yeah I know. That¹s terrible. I¹ve seen it before. I have an action reputation. Hahaha. But I just go by Jean Robert.

Jenny: Yeah I know the feeling. I'll make sure we get that cleared up for you.   At least you've never had to a vanilla milkshake poured all over you and licked up by some hot babes.  What¹s your take on the change of the 2008 WSOP final table?

Jean Robert: At first I wasn¹t a fan of waiting 2 months for the final table and the more I thought about it the more I decided that I did indeed like it. Basically everybody at that final table is going to be made celebrity. It¹s going to be good for poker and these people probably will be invited to talk shows (sports talk shows, regular talk shows) and just hype up the game. It¹s just good for all of us. Sponsorships might get more involved and I think for the overall game of poker it¹s actually a really good thing. It can¹t hurt. One of the things that I wish they did do, is that when you¹re waiting 2 or 3 months for this you would think that this would become basically a live event. It¹s actually not going to be a live event and as far as the public is concerned they gotta see a product on ESPN that¹s probably going to be similar to anything they¹ve seen in the past. It¹s just that it¹ll be truer to real time. It actually probably won¹t be quite as good as it¹s been in the past because they¹ll only have a few days to produce it or 1 or 2 days to produce it. It won¹t be such a great finished product but it¹ll be pretty close to what had actually took place. But you see here¹s the thing, it¹s either going to be in real time or not in real time. You know that¹s my frustration with it is that even in this year with what had happened, we¹ll know the results from the internet before it¹ll actually air. I kind of wish if they¹re going to do, just do it on Paperview or ESPN 360 and just make it real. I want to be able to watch it.

Jenny: I recently asked that hot hunk of a manDoyle Brunson a similar question and he thought it was a bad thing because it gives the other players time to read up on the well known players that end up being at the final table. Do you agree?

Jean Robert: I can understand Doyle¹s concern that it gives other people a chance to study up on the other players. In that case the amateurs have a little bit of an edge but I think the good outweighs the bad. Certainly if Allen Cunningham made the final table somebody could go watch every video and study every Cunningham video for the last 4 or 5 years and have it researched and definitely be worth spending twenty thousand dollars on research and studying this game really well. Hey great if you¹re going to do and it¹s going to help your game, ok good and maybe that¹ll help you get nine million. It¹s certainly going to change the dynamic a little bit, but overall I still think that the good by far outweighs the bad. It¹s going to bring a lot of publicity and that means it¹s going to bring more money to poker and more interest to poker and it¹ll mean next year may be more successful than this year.

Jenny: How was your experience this year at the WSOP?

Jean Robert: I love the WSOP and it¹s something that I very much look forward to and I always have big expectations for myself throughout the year. I felt that I was playing very well and I wasn¹t r eally getting results. It was really frustrating and I find myself getting frustrated sometimes if I don¹t get a result early on. I think I cashed in like the tenth event or something like that, tenth or eleventh event and actually had a really good shot to go far on that one. I didn¹t really have good results until the second to last event, the last preliminary event when I took second. My results from the series were really good and definitely made some cash on it. I¹m happy with my results overall.

Jenny: Do you see yourself as being really hard on yourself or do you try not to let it get to you?

Jean Robert: My expectations for myself are a lot higher than anybody else.  For me, even though I have fairly decent results, I believe I should have done a lot better at the World Series. There are so many hands if I can hold up against an Ace King one time or if my pair holds up against a smaller pair, my results are going to be a lot better. You know sometimes it just happens. This summer I think my results were actually quite good. I¹m pretty happy with my overall World Series.

Jenny: You joining Survivor China, did you see that as something else you could gamble at and win? Or was it just for fun?

Jean Robert: Partially and it was not for fun. I never ever thought that Survivor China would be fun. I definitely did see it as a positive situation where I've got a 16 to 1 chance of basically winning a million dollars. You gotta love that and I¹m not putting any money up to do that. Basically my equity going into this thing was like eighty thousand for 30 days of work. When you divide it up, I definitely liked that part of it. I absolutely knew that it was a win win situation for me. It can¹t really go wrong because no matter how miserable it was going to basically make me, not just in the poker world but also outside the poker world. For my poker career that definitely would be a good thing. Even right now as I resign the deal with Bodog, part of their interest in me isn¹t just that I¹m a known player in the poker world, it¹s that I have an appeal outside of there. It definitely was a good thing for me. I definitely hated it (hahaha), I hated it. I loved watching it on TV. I get asked that all the time. ³Was it fun². I¹m like ³no². It¹s not fun not eat for 3 or 4 days and it¹s not fun to get bitten by bugs and mosquitoes all night and not be able to sleep. It was brutal. So I did not enjoy the experience plus the most brutal part of it is that it actually took place during the World Series last year so I missed the World Series. I had no information what so ever, I didn¹t know anything about who was winning what bracelet or anything until after the whole thing was done. That was brutal as well. But am I glad I did it? Absolutely.

Jenny: Did you take any experiences from the poker world with you on Survivor or vice versa?

Jean Robert: Certainly. Just staying 2 or 3 steps ahead and getting a vibe when things weren¹t exactly right. Reading people when people are lying to you. Definitely being a poker player gives you an edge because that¹s just what you do. Basically a good poker player can tell if somebody¹s full of s*%t or telling the truth. That¹s what we do. If you can know how to do that on Survivor, you can do quite well.

Jenny: Did any of your poker peers give you a hard time with you being a contestant on Survivor China?

Jean Robert: Sure everybody liked to rip a little bit. But I think most people were glad that I did it. I can¹t tell you how many people told me that they never watched an episode of Survivor in their life before and found themselves glued to the TV while I was on it. A lot of people even stopped watching it after I got knocked off (hahaha). It was quite entertaining.

Jenny: Looking back now, could¹ve, would¹ve, should¹ve. Would you have changed anything in your strategy on Survivor China?

Jean Robert: I loved my strategy. Looking back now, I wouldn¹t change my strategy at all, but there were a couple of things. I always told myself, "can¹t trust Todd, can't trust Todd" and ended up that he was the one screwing me. If I knew I couldn¹t trust him, how did I put myself in a situation that I let myself be screwed by him. I just wish that even though I said I didn¹t trust him, I should really not trust him (haha).

Jenny: Didn't you vote for him at the very end?

Jean Robert: Yeah I did. It wasn¹t necessarily that he deserved it so much. Basically he was the best choice out of 3 people that I had to choose from. Courtney should never be considered to win Survivor. She was just somebody who was there going through the motions. It has nothing to do on whether I liked her or not. She was just useless. She was useless to camp life and useless in the challenges. Basically what she was good at was that she has a little mouth on her and she was able to talk back. Amanda was the person who was going to get my vote and James¹ vote, but at final tribal she was kind of pathetic. She had this deer in the headlights look about her and was just annoying. You only saw about 15 minutes of that but were there for like 6 hours. Amanda was terrible. Todd really owned the final tribal and I¹d say he earned the million dollars with his performance at that final tribal counsel. And for me it had nothing to do on whether I liked the guy or weather he screwed me or not. He played the game pretty well and you have to give it to him. Sure it was a little painful to get beat by him but in the end lose or not I¹ve got to respect him. This guy played a good game. Kudos to you.

Jenny: You¹ve been labeled of having a charismatic personality as a poker player. Do you see yourself as being charismatic with the ladies as well?

Jean Robert: Um well, I guess so (haha). I look at myself and I¹m chubby, I'm bald and I'm not one of these millionaire guys and yet my results have been pretty good (haha). So I mean I must be doing something right.

Jenny: Yeah well I'll be the first to admit, you are pretty hot. Plus you are French. I would let you b*** me. While we¹re on the subject of ladies, is there a special lady in your life at the moment?

Jean Robert: No.

Jenny: Ohhh la la. Do you like half Korean half Redneck girls with a little French in them?  ....Ahem.....What's next for you and do you have anything going on outside of the poker industry?

Jean Robert: Right now its just poker. After the World Series I really want to take some time and get away. I¹m going to go spend a few weeks either in Costa Rica or in Europe here in a few weeks. I¹m really looking forward to that. 

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