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When I Was A Donk With Jean-Robert Bellande

by Julio Rodriguez |  Published: Apr 26, 2017


Jean-Robert BellandeIn this series, Card Player asks top pros to rewind back to their humble beginnings and provide insights regarding the mistakes, leaks, and deficiencies that they had to overcome in order to improve their games.

Despite a reputation for living the high life with a low bankroll, Jean-Robert Bellande has proven over the years that he’s no pushover at the poker table. The 46-year-old Las Vegas resident is a regular in some of the biggest cash games in the world and has racked up more than $2.1 million in live tournament earnings.

The always-outspoken Bellande is perhaps best known for being a cast member on the CBS reality gameshow Survivor. He has come close to winning a World Series of Poker bracelet twice, finishing runner-up in both the 2008 limit hold’em shootout for $173,564 and the 2015 Poker Players Championship for $784,828.

Here, Bellande talks about a costly hero call in the big game.

I was at the peak of my poker career. I wasn’t being staked, I was on my own and had gotten some money together. I actually declared out loud at the table, that I was going to buy in for $1 million. I wanted to make sure I had everybody covered, and I let them know it.

The Chinese Singer comes and sits with $600,000. He’s a friendly guy, and just wants to have a good time. Anyway, I make a big raise preflop with pocket jacks and he reraises me to something like $52,000. I called.

The flop comes 10-9-9 and he jams all in, for something like six times the pot. It just didn’t make any sense to me. It didn’t seem believable. It’s one thing to hero call something for a pot-sized bet, maybe even a bet that’s twice the size of the pot, but this was six times the size of the pot and most of my buy-in.

Somehow, I convinced myself to call, and he had aces. That was $600,000 that was just lit on fire. Nobody could understand why this guy would play aces like that, but then it occurred to me that this guy liked me.

He was betting big, trying to push me out of the pot so I wouldn’t lose any more money. I’ve never seen a guy so heartbroken to win a seven-figure pot. He has a ton of money already, and honestly did not want to do that to me, but the truth is that I did it to myself. I didn’t need to make that hero call.

That was the end of me buying in for $1 million.