“Survivor” Castaway Ronnie: “The First Three Days Are Like Russian Roulette”

“Survivor: Island of the Idols” (CBS)

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Gordon Holmes: So, was last night a total blindside or did something set your Spidey sense off?

Ronnie Bardah: It was a bit of a blindside, I didn’t think I was going to go home that early. Nobody thinks it will be them. So, yes and no. Before going to Tribal I had a decent read of Chelsea and Tom. Especially Chelsea, she’s a great girl, but she’s a tell box. When I looked at her, she couldn’t look at me. She’d look at the ground right away. And Tom, I approached him and he got really spooked when I got behind him. That was right before Tribal. It was a blindside, but I wasn’t that surprised when I was walking off.

Holmes: Did they tip you off in advance that Edge of Extinction wasn’t going to be a part of this season, or did you still have hope that a second chance might be a possibility?

Bardah: They did not tip us off. Everything is a surprise. As I was walking off, I remember hoping there was an Edge of Extinction. One of the crew said, “Go that way.” I thought he was the person holding the sign. But, unfortunately the dream was over and I shed a few tears.


Holmes:  The first time we saw you chat with Elaine was a very intense conversation about working together, but you told us she was a target of yours. In hindsight, was that too much too fast or were there other conversations we didn’t see?

Bardah: That was the main conversation, that was real. She called me a weasel, but I meant what I said to her. When I talked about her having to go, that was a day later. It’s the beauty of production sewing everything together. It’s when I realized that she didn’t want to work with me that I knew she had to go. She was so flamboyant and charismatic, she won over everybody’s hearts. Who wants to play with this girl? And, she was a liability in challenges. You put two and two together and you want her gone. But, that conversation was real. I don’t think she read it right, but watching myself on the big screen…I don’t know if I trust myself. (Laughs) If you don’t know me right away you see a hard exterior. I seem slimy or what have you. But, that’s not how I am. I’m known as one of the nicest, funnest players in the poker world. It was hard to watch.

Holmes: Were you trying to portray a rougher exterior, or did she misread what you were trying to put out?

Bardah: It’s the second part. She read differently what I was trying to put out. I was trying to have a genuine conversation. I guess I jumped the gun and was playing too hard off of the bat.


Holmes: It looked like Elaine was the target, then she approached you, Aaron, and the others about going for anyone but her. Why was the decision made to switch from her to Vince?

Bardah: Me and Aaron and Karishma, we realized that we weren’t getting a consensus of the tribe. We felt like Chelsea didn’t want Elaine gone, she had really developed a relationship with the women in the first few days. We didn’t want to beat a dead horse.  And what you didn’t see is me, Aaron, Missy, Karishma, Vince…Dean came over for a quick second. We talked about Elaine and we talked about how Chelsea was a bit all over the place with the puzzle. And Vince went off and threw me and Aaron under the bus and told everyone that we’re throwing Elaine and Chelsea’s names out there. Vince was really just all over the place and we couldn’t trust him. And, Elaine was telling the truth. We told her she was too likable, but she pitched a good story to us. And we felt for her, so we said, “Let’s go Vince.”

Holmes: That first vote is so chaotic.

Bardah: The first three days are like Russian Roulette. The gun’s on you and you shoot off a bullet and it’s blank. With an hour or two left, it went over to myself. And in those first  few days it’s “anyone but me” because the relationships aren’t that strong. It’s kind of a (expletive deleted) show. You have to build those relationships, and I was beat. I’m owning it.

Holmes: You mentioned a Dean. Is he a camera guy?

Bardah: He’s a shorter guy from New York. Good-looking guy.


Holmes: Alright, it’s word association time. Let’s start with that Dean fellow you were talking about.

Bardah: Quiet, sneaky…calm and collected.

Holmes: Chelsea?

Bardah: Extremely motivated. A student of the game.

Holmes: Missy?

Bardah: A warrior. Paranoia…

Holmes: Aaron?

Bardah: Strong, fierce, a competitor. A father-figure, trustworthy.

Holmes: Tom?

Bardah: A bit clueless. Too loyal…and one-dimensional.

Holmes: Vince?

Bardah: Erratic, frazzled, wasn’t out there for himself. A bit confused.

Holmes: Elizabeth?

Bardah: Amazing, beautiful, genuine, awesome.

Holmes: Karishma?

Bardah: Really intelligent, mythodical…I believe she’s a brilliant person.

Holmes: And let’s finish with Elaine.

Bardah: (Laughs) Party animal, someone who everyone can relate to, fun-loving person, a clown in a good way. She’s going to win over America. She’s a big personality.


Holmes: Jumping back in there, what does it mean that Vince isn’t out there for himself?

Bardah: I feel like he’s just out there to mess everyone’s game up. I don’t think he had a plan. He was all over the place. He was just out there to stir the pot.

Holmes: Do you think paranoia just got the best of him?

Bardah: Yeah, as soon as someone said something he couldn’t keep it together. He didn’t have a plan. Anything you’d say to him, he’d turn around and tell them.


Holmes: Elizabeth said she just played a game at the Island of the Idols and she didn’t win. Didn’t mention Rob, Sandra, or the comically large busts. Did you buy that?

Bardah: I was out on a walk when she explained what happened. But, we had a conversation and I didn’t buy it at all. She said it was like Ghost Island and she had to pick an urn and that was it. We knew that wasn’t it. I didn’t believe a word that came out of her mouth and I don’t believe anybody else did. But, at that point you can’t call her out. You have to keep your information in your head and choose who to share it with.


Holmes: I’m not that familiar with professional poker, but I’d imagine like baseball you’re only successful a quarter of the time. Did that help cushion the blow of being the first one to go home or has this stuck with you?

Bardah: I win more than a quarter of the time. My win rate is about 75-80%

Holmes: Wow. I really don’t know anything about professional poker.

Bardah: I’d compare “Survivor” to a tournament. I know how to lose, but in poker you lose and you can go to bed, wake up, and come back. In “Survivor” you have one chance. Ninety percent of the people who play don’t get invited back. Maybe you get the call to come back and finish your story. Do I hope that happens? Of course, I’d like to come back and redeem myself. It’s a heartbreaker. It was much harder losing in “Survivor.”

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