Vanessa Rousso

Poker Player Vanessa Rousso to Join Cast of “Big Brother” Season 17

If you have a desire to live in house for several weeks with about a dozen assholes and no communication with the outside world, then you would love to switch places with poker pro Vanessa Rousso this summer, as she is a contestant on the 17th season of the CBS reality show, “Big Brother.”*

I don’t know what’s more surprising: that Rousso is going to be a “houseguest” on “Big Brother” or that the show is still a thing, having somehow survived for a decade and a half already. Debuting in the United States in 2000, “Big Brother” resides in one of the multiple strata of garbage television, somewhere above the sludge that oozes from TLC (oh, how far you have come from “The Learning Channel” days) and somewhere below, say, “Under the Dome.”

The show started as an interesting concept: put a bunch of people in house together, isolate them completely from the world outside the house, and put cameras everywhere. Kind of like “The Real World,” except with more people, no leaving the house, and 24/7 access that is generally unfiltered (of course, you don’t see private potty moments and curse words are bleeped out on television). If you want another comparison, try “Survivor,” but in a house and not an island. But like “Survivor,” rather than just being an interesting social experiment, it is yet another stupid game involving kicking players off the show through cast voting. Thus, it’s just a contest of alliance-forming and breaking.

big brother logoAll the while, the pretty cast members, starved for attention, act like people you would generally never want to be around, let alone root for to win hundreds of thousands of dollars. Oh, and then there are the mind-numbing competitions they have to engage in to earn rewards than can help them last longer on the show. I suppose I sound all “old man yells at cloud,” but really, it’s just awful, awful stuff.

Sacrificing the 2015 World Series of Poker for a chance to win $500,000 and have her life broadcast on television and over the internet 24/7, Rousso told “Big Brother” interviewer Jeff Schroeder that she couldn’t turn down the once in a lifetime opportunity; she can play poker the rest of her life, but this is the one time she will get to be on this show, so she wanted to run with it.

If you are actually into the strategy of the show, one thing that might be interesting is that Rousso said in the interview that she plans on trying to hide the fact that she is a professional poker player from the rest of her housemates. One thing she is concerned about is the possibility of someone recognizing her, so not being upfront about her career would reduce those chances (assuming someone doesn’t recognize her straight-away). She said she also performs as a DJ on the side, so she will simply say that is her profession, as it more just not telling the entire truth as opposed to lying.

The question that follows, then, is why would she not want to be recognized (also, why am I thinking this hard about “Big Brother”)? While she didn’t explain her thought process behind her strategy part of her reasoning could simply be that a celebrity, no matter what level of celebrity they are, is going to be a target. She wouldn’t be able to blend in and lay low. The other contestants might think that she already has notoriety and money; it’s time for someone else to get a shot. Additionally, in shows like these where contestants can vote each other out of the game, the strongest players are often the first ones people want to boot off the show. They are the threats, so others want to team up against them to give themselves a better chance to win. As a professional poker player, Rousso might be perceived as being smart and cunning and therefore a threat. She also might be seen as a potential liar (she’s a POKAH PLAYAH!) and thus someone the other houseguests would not want to risk letting hang around to become a fly in the soup.

Before Vanessa Rousso, a number of other poker players have participated in a “reality” shows. In 2007, Jean-Robert Bellande was a “castaway” on “Survivor: China,” though he didn’t fare all that well, finishing 9th out of 16 players. In 2009, Tiffany Michelle and Maria Ho teamed up in “Survivor” Season 15, making it halfway to the title, bowing out in 6th place out of 12 teams. The best poker player performer on a reality show was Annie Duke, who finished second to Joan Rivers on the second “Celebrity Apprentice.”

The newest “Big Brother” season will premiere on Wednesday, June 24th at 8:00pm ET.

*Alternatively, you might enjoy some sort of Republican presidential candidates joke in this spot.


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