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Survivor: China – Why Jean-Robert Lostby David Bloomberg -- 11/15/2007
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Last week, before getting into the discussion of why Jaime lost, I first talked about whether I thought she believed the non-idol she presented was real. My conclusion was that she was probably being truthful in her later claims that she knew it was likely fake.
Then we had Jean-Robert, who did something similar. He didn’t quite make it to Tribal Council with the non-idols, but he did tell Erik that he had them, and Erik had to tell him he was wrong. So what do I make of that?
This one is a bit more difficult to judge. In my interview with Jean-Robert, he said, “I didn’t think I had the idol. When I told Erik I had the idol, it was a pure bluff and a fishing expedition.” So was he bluffing then or is he bluffing now?
I’m going with “now.” While we really do only see a very small percentage of what goes on while contestants are playing Survivor, what we saw of Jean-Robert’s ability to sort out what was going on in the game showed very little ability to keep up. Sure, he bragged to me that he figured out where the idol was after seeing the clues only once, but he left out the important fact that he received progressively more specific clues all at once, while the others had to gather them one by one. Add to that the fact that he was completely behind everybody else in idol knowledge before then, and we don’t have a convincing case to say that Jean-Robert was just bluffing here in search of information. I suppose it’s possible, but we just don’t have enough evidence.
With that question sort of answered, we can move on to the point of this article. Whether Jean-Robert believed he had the idols or not, he knew long before Tribal Council that what he had were worthless chunks of wood and he didn’t rely on a non-idol to keep him around. So why did Jean-Robert lose?
To answer that question, we will take the usual path of looking back at What China Survivors Should Have Learned. Jean-Robert had a wide variety of bad behavior – some of it even by design – so we should have plenty to discuss.
The most important rule is the first one, which says players need to scheme and plot. Jean-Robert is used to playing poker, an individual game, and I think he played Survivor similarly. And while it is true that only one person can be the sole Survivor and win the million-dollar prize, it is also true that you need to work together with other people to get to that point. Probably the closest thing to working together in a poker tournament would be checking down a pot that has a player all-in and multiple other players in it, so the all-in player has a better chance of being knocked out. It’s not exactly making alliances!
The way Jean-Robert played was similar. He did think he had allies, but he didn’t really play the game as part of an alliance. A large part of the reason for that was his strategy of being the “bad boy” – not a plan that is conducive to making people want to be on your side. We’ll discuss that more later.
Jean-Robert tried to scheme and plot. He talked to his tribemates and discussed how the votes would go. But he should have known there was trouble in paradise when his name kept coming up in the votes. Yet from what we saw, he never addressed that issue with his supposed allies or even really cared about it too much.
Ironically, although we gave Jean-Robert a demerit for not scheming and plotting enough, we’re also going to give him one for doing it too much! Really, it’s all in how he tried to do it – not to mention that he failed to keep his scheming secret.
Jean-Robert was in an alliance of sorts with James. He was also in one with Todd and Amanda. He talked to them separately, apparently not realizing that they might also be talking to each other. Not only that, but he failed to recognize just how out of the loop he was regarding the idols. Think about it: when a guy on the other tribe knows more about the idols than you do in this situation, you’ve got problems.
Yet Jean-Robert never seemed to think that maybe some of the others on his supposed alliance knew more than they were letting on. If everybody has a secret and you aren’t one of them, there’s a good bet that they are closer allies than you are. That means you shouldn’t go spilling those secrets to one of them, because he likely already knows and now you’ve just set yourself up as the guy divulging secrets!
Now add to this that Jean-Robert confronted James directly about the idols, pushing him to confess to having them. That is not the way to treat a supposed ally. And, as above, it pointed out to James that somebody had been talking to a guy who was not supposed to know stuff, thus making Jean-Robert a target.
One other item comes to mind relating to Jean-Robert failing to keep his scheming secret. A few weeks ago, he and James were out in the water, openly discussing how they would get rid of Courtney. It seems to not have occurred to them to whisper or look around or do anything to keep their secret a secret. Not smart.
The third rule tells players to be flexible. I don’t really think Jean-Robert put himself into a position where he could be flexible. His strategy was designed to alienate at least some people from the very beginning. That limited his options when it came to jumping from alliance to alliance. For example, Courtney was certainly never going to be an option. While he didn’t make the cardinal mistake of only sticking to one alliance and hoping it survives, he also didn’t allow himself a way to easily maneuver.
At least Jean-Robert followed the fourth rule in fine fashion. He did not allow his emotions to control his actions. In this regard, I suspect being a poker player helped him. Poker is a game with many possible highs and lows. A player who goes on tilt – gets upset – is more likely to make bad moves. Much like in Survivor. A player who befriends others at his table might be less inclined to take their money, and thus not play as well against them. Much like in Survivor.
A perfect example is Jean-Robert’s attempt to vote out James. He specifically told me that James “was somebody I liked a lot.” Yet he didn’t allow his personal feelings to interfere with his game play.1 2 Next-->
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