Jean-Robert Bellande is the poker pro you’d love to hate, but he’s more than one. He lived like a millionaire for years despite living on the verge of collapse and he loved playing the villain on the TV show Survivor. We met with Jean-Robert in Vegas the day before the first World Series of Poker event of the year to see how his newfound fame has changed his life, what crazy bets he made this year and how he started his rise to poker fame.
PokerLizard: So how does the registration for the World Series go, they always seem to make some mess along the way? Is it running smoothly or is there an outline of people? football city
Jean-Robert: I was just there and there was no line, I just signed up now.
PokerLizard: Are you going to play at 40K?
Jean-Robert: I’m actually not going to play in the 40K right now, the purchase is too big.
PokerLizard: Sure, why not play at a smaller event where a bunch of asses are? Playing at 40K, it would be great for publicity if you created the final table to show on TV; but it looks like the field will be too tough not to mention the big buyins.
Jean-Robert: Yes, it’s a difficult area of justice; it’s not a great value. Maybe it’s good for people who have a lot of money and want to get a bracelet because it will be a smaller field than I imagined somewhere between 200 and 300 people. The TV value is there, but it’s only 2 hours of television time, and there’s no real guarantee of TV viewing.
PokerLizard: What do you think of the picks for the televised World Series of Poker having only four televised events. $40k, Main Event, Ante up for African charity event, and Tournament of Champions event with all past champions.
Jean-Robert: Actually from a TV standpoint, I can understand ABC or ESPN’s decision because I meant things that the public was interested in. The general public doesn’t really understand games like HORSE and Pot Limit Omaha. They have spent a lot of time educating the community which I think they could benefit from this year. The last three years have aired the $50k HORSE show, they’ve educated the public and I think they’re getting more viewers every year, so this year they may be getting more than last year, but the bottom line is people prefer to see No Limit Hold’em. With this 40K they are basically guaranteed that they will have the big names at the final table because half the field will be all the big names.
Jean-Robert: Half the pitch would be a big name and a really good player for a guaranteed star-studded final table. It’s the same thing with the Tournament of Champions; then you’ve got the main event. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more big names deeper in this year’s tournament as they have given us 30,000 in starting chips instead of 20k. the more starting chips you give it makes it more challenging in the tournament.
Jean-Robert: Yeah, so for them I think it’s a good decision but for poker players of course the more television shows the better. We will love it. Yes, I can understand why they did that.
PokerLizard: Right, just the cost of putting it all together would be a lot cheaper than sticking around paying Norman Chad his hefty salary.
Jean-Robert: I don’t think that’s the case. I know there are many more days recorded this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if the viewer count on ESPN 360 went up. I know that they will be showing some shows online.
PokerLizard: That should be pretty cool. How many events will you play?
Jean-Robert: I’ll really see as we go. Last year I think I played like 23 events last year. I’m looking at an event I’m interested in. I’m actually interested in 42 different shows, they overlap with each other, but I would imagine that I’ll probably be playing somewhere between 20 and 25 more events this year.
PokerLizard: How hard it is to play that much, I mean it has to be mentally rough and physically, just to wake up every morning.
Jean-Robert: There were times like now; I’m really excited about it, I don’t see myself tired for at least the first week or so, but then there comes a time when you don’t even feel like playing the next day and when that happens to me I won’t be playing that day. I’ll only take a day or so off because every time I play I really want to be there so when I get thrown I’ll leave Rio right away, get some fresh air; go for a walk by the pool, hang out with friends or watch a movie, so I’m ready to get back out there and be refreshed for the next tournament.