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Terrible and brilliant strategies come into play on 'Survivor'

Monty Brinton / CBS / Today
Rob Mariano of the Ometepe tribe definitely has something to smile about -- his great game strategy.

By Andy Dehnart, TODAY.com contributor

With he-who-shall-not-be-named finally gone from "Survivor," the show settled into its usual pre-merge slump. Oh, there were some great moments, but the tribe that lost the challenge -- Zapatera -- already had its next two boots lined up. It was so obvious that either Krista or Stephanie would be heading to Redemption Island that host Jeff Probst kicked off the vote by basically announcing it was time to see which one was headed home.

Krista complained that "since Russell has left, there has been zero talk of strategy," and tried to insist that the rest of her tribe was "just not playing the game."

She is wrong -- their game right now is to get rid of her and Stephanie -- but she was right that they will eventually turn on each other. If she were a good strategist rather than a complainer who aligned herself with a shrieking tribemate, she could have tried to play her tribemates against each other to deflect attention from herself. But no.

Compare her game to the rather complicated one Rob Mariano is playing on Ometepe. His tribe won the challenge -- the familiar but fun blindfolded maze. He and Grant discovered a clue to the hidden immunity idol in their reward of coffee and doughnuts.(Remember, Rob already has the idol, and Grant is his buddy.) Rob managed to sneak the coffee away with Grant's help, a move Rob compared to "a well-choreographed football play."

But Rob then did something brilliant -- he swapped the clue with the first one he received. This is where his experience is very clear: Rob has an ally he's keeping close to him by sharing the clue, but he's also making sure he retains the upper hand in the relationship. Rob wrote this off as a game ("It's fun for me; I have to entertain myself out here somehow"), but it's really just good strategy.

At the duel challenge, Matt won again, defeating Kristina, it seemed, relatively easily. He didn't even seem stressed out, and used his time to confront Rob about his ouster. 

Keep reading at realityblurred.com about duel drama and Phillip cuddling with Rob.

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