Jean-Robert Bellande just can't get any respect.
For sure, the Bodog pro's live tournament results aren't exactly the stuff of legend.
It's rare, though, to find a player who invites such overwhelming vitriol and ridicule from forum trolls, fellow pros and the poker community at large.
"It's amazing how much joy my misfortunes seem to bring folks," Bellande wrote on the 2+2 forums. "Each time I feel pain, smiles are made all over the world."
Lately, Bellande has made waves on the poker scene by accepting a high-stakes heads-up challenge that proves just how little regard the community has for the Survivor-starring former nightclub owner.
He took up online pro Jarred Harrington's offer to play heads-up Pot-Limit Omaha this week at the Commerce Casino - with Harrington spotting the big guy a fifth hole card.
The challenge, which blew up the forums as the WPT's Los Angeles Poker Classic was getting under way, actually began online.
"Jared and I have played a little heads-up on Bodog," Bellande said.
"He actually challenged me to play PLO heads-up giving me 15 to 20% back, which I absolutely have to take from anybody. I mean, the kid plays pretty good, but I don't think he's any kind of favorite to win in that spot."
Harrington wound up a winner in the online battle and, his confidence high, challenged Bellande to increase the stakes live.
"So he decided he was going to offer me five cards," the former WPT Bad Boy of Poker said. "And I'm going to play anybody in the world if it's five cards. I don't care if it's Phil Ivey, Barry Greenstein or Daniel Negreanu."
Lofty words from a man not known for his Pot-Limit Omaha prowess, but Bellande felt the edge was just too good to pass up.
Harrington jumped out to an early lead and Bellande appeared perilously close to adding another chapter to the history of a man who has too often been a laughingstock.
But eventually, he made some adjustments, beating Harrington for about $20,000.
"He won't be giving me five cards again," Bellande said.
Still, it wasn't long before other sharks began to circle.
Looks like a housecat, plays ... like a tiger!
Mixed-game demon Chau Giang offered a 15% rebate on any losses sustained in a $100k buy-in, $1k/$2k H.O.R.S.E. game.
"I don't think he's a big enough favorite over me to fade that edge," Bellande said, "but coming up with that buy-in would be difficult."
Difficult, sure. If you haven't heard, Bellande is broke again.
"I live the lifestyle of any of the big-time players," he says, "but I'm just really bad at bankroll management."
However, Bellande has a plan to capitalize on his financial difficulties, and it doesn't involve just sitting around and waiting for online whiz kids with oversized egos and wads of cash to challenge him.
Instead, the Survivor star is shooting a TV pilot, tentatively titled Broke and Living like a Millionaire.
"There are parts of the poker world that you don't really see on TV, on Poker After Dark or anything, but they're a very real part of this world," he said about the show, which will focus on the life of a poker player on the road, with his own ailing bankroll as the central thread.
Part of being a professional gambler is looking for that edge, which is why, after passing on Giang's proposal, Bellande jumped at an offer from Justin "BoostedJ" Smith, who offered him the button every hand heads-up.
"He obviously feels he might be able to win if he's giving me that spot, but I love that game," Bellande said. "I'm going to take spots like that from anyone."
Bellande and Smith have already played a few hands, and he remains confident in his advantage.
Meanwhile, the big guy is enjoying the increased action that comes when everyone thinks you're a mark.
"People talk and they hear about you getting an edge so they figure you must be a donkey," he said.
With that in mind, he's definitely willing to entertain more offers, like the 50% money-back guarantee offered by 2+2 user tcorbin16 for 10,000 hands of four-tabled $25/$50.
"Oh yeah. Spot me, money back, shoot, I'm there," Bellande said. "I don't think I could play four tables like these other guys, but I'm happy to play. I'm listening to offers, so bring them on."
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