The season premiere of the 39th season of Survivor aired Wednesday night and the episode ended with poker pro Ronnie Bardah being the first contestant voted out of the competition.
The World Series of Poker bracelet winner and record holder for most consecutive cashes in the WSOP main event was voted out of the game by a 7-2 vote. Bardah and Aaron Meredith were the only two members of the Lairo tribe not to vote for Ronnie.
Bardah went into the tribal council with the expectation that either Vince Moua or Elaine Stott would be voted out. At one point in the show, Stott and Bardah had a private conversation in which the two contestants talked about working together in an effort to extend both of their stays on the island.
Stott went on to say that she didn’t trust Bardah and that “he’s got to go,” while Bardah campaigned against Stott to others. Bardah realized that Stott was one of his biggest threats because of how likable she was.
In the end, Stott did a better job of convincing the others that Bardah needed to leave.
“I was blindsided pretty hard,” said Bardah in his exit interview. “I did not expect that.”
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Bardah said that he knew something was up just a few moments before the final vote.
“When we were on lockdown for those few minutes before going to Tribal, I was looking around and I looked over at Chelsea and Tom,” Bardah told EW. “And as soon as I looked over at Chelsea, she quickly just looked at me in the really oddest way and looked down at the floor, and that was an indication that something was wrong. Same with Tom. We call them ‘tell boxes’ in poker. They just couldn’t hold it. They just really gave it away in their facial expression.”
He went on to add those first few days of the game are very important to a player’s chances. And that Stott did a better job of winning over their fellow competitors than he did.
For someone who always has so much to say, it’s hard for me to express how I feel. The expectations I had for myself and what you had for me, sorry I let you down. I feel so privileged to have played the great game of @survivorcbs Thank you for all your support.
— Ronnie Bardah (@RonnieBardah) September 26, 2019
Bardah was the fourth poker pro to compete on the show. Jean-Robert Bellande, Garrett Adelstein and Anna Khait were all contestants on the show in prior seasons. Adelstein and Khait also had early exits in their attempt at winning the $1 million first-place prize money.
Illari ‘Zigmund’ Sahamies competed on the Finnish version of the show and bracelet winner Jackie Glazer took a shot on the Australian version of it.