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Vegas poker pro wins second-largest payday of WSOP career

2 July 2018

Jean-Robert Bellande

Jean-Robert Bellande (photo by WSOP)

Name: Jean-Robert Bellande
Nationality: American
Birthplace: New York
Current Residence: Las Vegas, NV
Age: 47
Profession: Poker pro
Number of WSOP Cashes: 24
Number of WSOP Final Table Appearances: 3
Number of WSOP Gold Bracelet Victories (with this tournament): 1
Best Previous WSOP Finish: 2nd, 2015 WSOP Event #44: $50,000 Poker Players Championship ($784,828)
Total WSOP Earnings: $2,224,001
Personal Facts: Bellande is widely known to the public for his appearance on CBS's long-
running “Survivor” series.

New York native and long-time Las Vegas poker professional Jean-Robert Bellande has claimed his first World Series of Poker gold bracelet by winning Event #58 of the 2018 World Series of Poker, $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em 6-Handed.

The bracelet win ends a run of close calls for the 47-year-old Bellande, who has twice finished as the runner-up in WSOP bracelet events. Bellande entered Sunday's six-player final with a healthy lead and dominated most of the day's action, but fell behind late in his heads-up duel against the UK's Dean Lyall before coming back for the win.

Bellande's $616,302 first-place payday swells his lifetime WSOP earnings to $2,224,001 after this, his 24th WSOP cash. Lyall, 30, from Scotland, settled for $380,895 after briefly surging into the lead during his duel with Bellande.

Andrew Graham, a 24-year-old poker pro from Westford, MA, earned $254,684. The cashes for both Lyall and Graham were the largest of their WSOP careers, and for Lyall, it marked his first-ever WSOP payday.

Fourth place in this $5K NLHE event went to Sacramento, CA's Tay Nguyen, who collected a WSOP-best $173,598 for his deep run. Vegas poker pro Eric Blair claimed fifth place and $120,669. Blair is a two-time WSOP Circuit ring winner whose six-figure payday here moved him over the million-dollar mark in career WSOP cashes.

Bellande closed out his long-sought first bracelet victory after retaking the lead from Lyall and building roughly a 3:1 edge. In the last hand, Lyall shoved from the button for 4.36 million. Bellande looked down and quickly called. A loud rail called for a queen as the board was slowly dealt, then the turn, and finally, the river. Bellande's self-proclaimed bracelet jinx was over.

“Oh my God,” he quietly told his rail moments later. “The monkey is officially off my back.”

Later, Bellande chatted about his long-awaited WSOP win. "Winning a bracelet in no-limit hold'em is an extra big surprise to me because it's not my best game. I've worked a lot on my game but I know I'm way behind the top-level players in that game. I would never ever dream my first bracelet would be in no-limit hold'em, but it makes it extra exciting for me."

He continued, "I had a blast. I had so much fun during this tournament, not just winning but mixing it up. Six-handed is cool because you're always in action. The guys were all fun. We just had a good time. Every day we just had a blast."

Bellande thoroughly enjoyed his run to victory. He quietly sipped some Chateau Margaux 2013 Premier Grand Cru Classé while he played, occasionally telling the dealer to “Deal me out” as he enjoyed the flavor. He also spent some time debating with his rail whether he liked the '13 vintage better than the '09 Chateau Margaux he sipped during Saturday's Day 2.

Later, talk turned to the poker. "Winning a bracelet in no-limit hold'em is an extra big surprise to me because it's not my best game," said Bellande. "I've worked a lot on my game but I know I'm way behind the top-level players in that game. I would never ever dream my first bracelet would be in no-limit hold'em, but it makes it extra exciting for me.

"I had a blast. I had so much fun during this tournament, not just winning but mixing it up. Six-handed is cool because you're always in action. The guys were all fun. We just had a good time. Every day we just had a blast."

Yet it also seemed as it still might not be Bellande's day, despite his dominance on both Day 2 and Day 3. Nyall managed to turn a 5:2 deficit into a 2:1 lead without any huge pots, due only to a dead run of cards for poker's “BrokeLivingJRB”.

Bellande talked about that dry stretch, “It's interesting because you go through lulls in every tournament; you run kind of salty. I've never seen nine-four offsuit so many times in my life. I had a two-hour run where it was nine-four off every time, and when I finally had a hand, I would just brick out the river. Flush draw, straight draw, everything, and it seemed like every river was a complete brick.

“The cool thing is, two hours of running bad, that's the good thing about being so deep. You can run shitty for two hours and still survive. At one point he had almost a two-and-a-half-to-one chip lead, and I thought it was curtains. Then I caught a nice little rush after the dinner break. I'm really really happy. Really relieved. First bracelet. You know, I had two second places. I had one second place the first time, I had a 19-to-one chip lead, and I lost that bracelet. That was just devastating. Tonight, it looked like I was going to squander a two-to-one lead and lose it again. But in the end... it's a relief, it's exciting.

“The six hundred thousand dollars is also exciting. Six . . . hundred . . . thousand . . . dollars!”

A six-player official final table returned for Sunday's conclusion of this three-day event. Bellande, with over five million in chips, had roughly twice as many as his nearest competitor, Lyall. Yet it Poland's Kacper Pyzara, who began play just behind Lyall, who busted first. Pyzara lost most of his chips in a big hand against Lyall, then pushed from the small blind for his last 515,000, only to find Bellande waiting in the big blind. Bellande's jacks held as the board ran out, with Pyzara earning $85,570 for sixth.

Fifth then went to two-time Circuit ring winner Eric Blair, who started the day n the short stack and never mounted a run. Blair lost his last million or so in chips when he called all in to a hefty Graham raise on the board. The river still left Graham with the higher kicker. Blair collected $120,669 for fifth.

California's Tan Nguyen busted next. After being whittled down to his last 420,000, Nguyen shoved but was quickly called by Bellande. Again the jacks held for Bellande, as the board ran out. Nguyen's fourth-place effort was worth $173,598.

Lyall soon became the short stack and looked to be on the way to a third-place bustout, but he doubled through Graham, and Graham instead collected that $254,684 third-place payday. Graham busted when he pushed the last of his chips, about 880,000 over the top of a Bellande open-raise. Bellande called and his hand turned out to be ahead of Graham's. Graham had plenty of outs after the flop, but the turn and river blanked, giving him a $254,684 cash and bringing on the start of heads-up play.

Event #58, $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em 6-Handed, attracted 621 entrants and created a prize pool of $2,887,650. 94 players cashed, with a minimum cash worth $7,390.

Other notables
Among those cashing in Event #58 were James Mackey (8th, $61,931), Greg Merson (19th, $21,018), Martin Finger (20th, $21,018), Sylvain Loosli (25th, $16,958), Andre Akkari (28th, $16,958), Anthony Spinella (30th, $16,958), Asi Moshe (32nd, $14,004), Patrick Bruel (38th, $11,843), and Bart Lybaert (46th, $10,263).

Final table payouts (POY points in parentheses)
1st: Jean-Robert Bellande, $616,302 (1,141.74)
2nd: Dean Lyall, $380,895 (570.87)
3rd: Andrew Graham, $254,684 (513.78)
4th: Tay Nguyen, $173,598 (456.70)
5th: Eric Blair, $120,669 (428.15)
6th: Kacper Pyzara, $85,570 (399.61)

(Article courtesy of World Series of Poker)

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Vegas poker pro wins second-largest payday of WSOP career is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.