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Jean-Robert (Bobby) Bellande
has been on the local Los Angeles poker scene for quite some time, so I have run into him a lot. Even though I have seen
him often, I only know him from the tables. I have never really had conversations with him because he always seems to be in
his own little world. Despite not talking with him for any lengthy period of time, I definitely have my opinions about him.
I think anybody who saw him in a crowded room would have an opinion of him. He not only stands head and shoulders above the
rest (at 6'6"), he is also probably the loudest.
Bobby Bellande was born September 17, 1970 in Long Island, New York and was raised in Asia. He attended a private Christian
college, Azusa Pacific University, where he received his bachelor's degree in Marketing. After college, he made a name for
himself promoting some of the hottest L.A. nightspots, including the Roxbury. He eventually opened his own place called Sky
Sushi, which he ran for five years before it closed its doors.
According to Bellande, he has always been a pool player. One night after winning approximately $6,000 at Hard Times pool
hall in Bellflower, he took his winnings over to the Bicycle Casino and tripled his money at the blackjack tables. He then
took it over to the poker table and lost a large portion of it. Even though he lost at the poker table, he was hooked. He
worked on his game and when he thought he could play Omaha Hi/Low as well as anyone, he played against
Jeff Lisandro. Jeff took Bobby for $20,000 and
Bobby admitted, "Jeff completely outclassed me. I couldn't believe there was a whole other level of poker." Jeff
eventually became his poker mentor and good friend. A few months later, Jean-Robert went through a rough time when his father
died of cancer and Sky Sushi shut down. Lisandro invited him to go to Prague, where he was running a poker room. Bobby accepted
Jeff’s invitation and stayed there for six months.
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Many people recognize Bobby from his final table appearance at the 2005 World Series of Poker Circuit Event held at the Rio
in Las Vegas. His third place finish behind Doug Lee and Jennifer Harman was something to be remembered because of his
constant table banter. Some found him amusing and entertaining, and some found him to be obnoxious and annoying. I tend to
side with the latter. During that event Jean Robert continuously proclaimed "excellent
laydown!" (aimed at his
opponents who folded to his bluffs) and quickly earned a cocky reputation at the table. Jen Harman eventually couldn't contain her
laughter by about the sixth time "Bobby Broken-Record" uttered the same phrase, and retorted with some playful sarcasm
about his remarks. It was probably this TV appearance that helped land him a seat on the World Poker Tour Bad Boys of Poker 2
Invitational where he finished in fourth place. The other invited guests were Mike Matusow, Phil Hellmuth, Gus Hansen, Men
the Master and the winner of the event, Tony G.
I have played with Bobby in tournaments and I also observed his play many times while I was the commentator for
Live at the Bike. I have seen Bobby play well,
but I have also seen him play very poorly. He is the kind of player who I like to play against because his temper and
his ego get the best of him so often. When he is playing a good game, one of his best skills is being able to read his opponent.
But when he is playing against good players, all they have to do is wait because there will be an inevitable ego play that
will give a top player the chance to send Bobby to the rail.
Some of his notable finishes include a first place in the $2,500 buy-in tournament at the 2005 Winnin' O' the Green, and his
two first place finishes in Limit Omaha Hi/Lo at the Mini Series of Poker held at The Bicycle Casino.
In 2007, Jean-Robert Bellande joined fifteen other contestants on the reality television show, Survivor. He stated in
a video interview on the CBS site: "Poker is a mental game, and I think 'Survivor' is a mental game. My strategy for this
Survivor: China is going to be similar to my strategy in a poker tournament. For the first couple hours, I am evaluating
my opponents, figuring out who the strong players are, who the weak players are, and then I plan my attack accordingly."
Bobby made it about halfway through before being eliminated after confronting and threatening his closest allies.