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Poker Pro Ronnie Bardah to Compete in Upcoming Season of CBS Survivor

Ronnie Bardah

Poker players haven’t had the best results on CBS’ Survivor over the years but Ronnie Bardah will attempt to bump that trend in the upcoming 39th season of the long-running reality show.

Bardah was heavily rumored to be involved in the show but wasn’t officially confirmed as a contestant until this week.

The upcoming season is titled “Island of Idols” and will feature the return of two of the most successful Survivor castaways of all time: Boston Rob Mariano and Sandra Diaz-Twine. Mariano and Diaz-Twine will act as mentors to the 20 new castaways.

Bardah, who hails from Brockton, Massachusetts, has been playing poker since 2004 and has amassed over $1.3 million in live tournament earnings. He is also a World Series of Poker gold bracelet winner. He outlasted 302 entries to win the $2,500 buy-in No-Limit 6-Max to win $182,088 in 2012.

Bardah the Fifth Poker Pro to Play Survivor

Survivor, which features a good amount of bluffing and reading people, shouldn’t be all that foreign a concept to anyone who plays poker.

That’s likely a big part of the reason that poker pros have appeared on the show numerous times over its 39-season existence.

In total, there have been four poker players to take part in Survivor – Jean-Robert Bellande (Survivor: China), Jim Rice (Survivor: South Pacific), Garrett Adelstein (Survivor: Cagayan) and Anna Khait (Survivor: Kaôh Rōng).

The poker pros have not been particularly successful, however, and the boisterous Jean-Robert Bellande, who was the first poker pro to debut on Survivor, still has the deepest run as a ninth-place finisher.

Anna Khait seemed primed for a deep run but got separated from her voting alliance and was promptly voted out. Jim Rice didn’t make it any further than Bellande. Garrett Adelstein had the misfortune of being the second player voted out of the contest.

Many poker pros have lied about their occupation on Survivor in order to mask their strategic acumen. Here’s a look at every poker player who’s appeared on Survivor and where they ultimately finished:

ContestantSeason of SurvivorFinishedPoker Earnings
Jean-Robert BellandeSurvivor: China (S14)9th$2.9 million
Jim RiceSurvivor: S. Pacific (S23)13th$358,077
Garrett AdelsteinSurvivor: Cagayan (S28)17th$171,874
Anna KhaitSurvivor: Kaôh Rōng (S32)13th$12,811

Survivor Goes All-In on Poker

It’s not just poker players who have taken a shot at Survivor. Sometimes it works the other way around.

Boston Rob, easily one of the most famous Survivor winners, started playing poker shortly after finishing runner-up in Survivor: All-Stars. He even appeared in a reality TV show called Against All Odds, which featured famous poker pro Daniel Negreanu teaching him how to play poker.

Boston Rob has remained a big fan of the game and regularly makes appearances at various poker stops.

Some of the other notable Survivor contestants who have ventured into the poker world include Tyson Apostol, Amanda Kimmel, Adam Klein and Kim Spradlin.

Bardah Once Bluffed by Miss Finland

Ronnie Bardah has a long, successful record playing poker professionally but he’s perhaps best known for a misstep during a poker TV show called Shark Cage back in 2014.

Bardah played a hand against Sara Chafak, the former Miss Finland, and ended up folding trip fours after Chafak ran a huge bluff with ace-high.

The hand is renowned as one of the single best instances of an amateur pulling one over on a full-time poker pro.

On the other hand, Bardah does have a more positive notable achievement to his name. He holds the record for most times making the money in the WSOP Main Event.

Bardah made the money in the Main Event every year from 2010 to 2014. Interestingly, he had to skip this year’s WSOP to compete in Survivor (they film the season ahead of time) but hopefully he was able to bring some of that trademark consistency to the show.

Survivor: Island of Idols premieres on CBS on September 25, 2019.