The 10 Smartest Big Brother Players Ever
While not every Big Brother player has demonstrated a high level of intelligence, some are smarter than others.
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Pretty much anyone can play Big Brother thanks to its combination of physical and mental competitions as well as strategic and social gameplay. The best players excel in all of these departments, but there are some players who had the best social game, for example, while others were considered competition beasts. There are also, of course, some chaotic players on Big Brother.
Interestingly, of the smartest Big Brother players, only half of them actually went on to win the game. Several of the smartest players were eliminated in a variety of ways, cutting their games short before they could walk away with the final prize.
Dan Gheesling (Seasons 10, 14)
No matter what challenge Dan faced, he worked it out to his advantage. Not only did consistently win competitions to keep himself off the block or from being evicted, but he also cleverly manipulated people onto his side.
One of Dan’s most impressive moves, for example, was the iconic funeral whereby he threw his ally under the bus, unbeknownst even to her, to make it seem like there was a falling out when there wasn’t. Dan could talk his way out of just about anything.
Nakomis Dedmon (Seasons 5, 7)
Nakomis is actually one of the Big Brother players who changed the game. It was a strategic idea that she, at least in part, came up with that later became known as the backdoor strategy.
Originally called the Six-Finger plan, she suggested to her alliance that they nominate two of their own so they were guaranteed a veto win. At that point, they could pull a switch, take one of their own alliance members off the block and put up the real target from the rival alliance. It was a genius plan that led to the new rule of randomly drawing Veto players in subsequent seasons.
Derrick Levasseur (Season 16)
Derrick used his experience working undercover as a cop, a detail no one in the house knew about, to sit back and observe. He always knew what was going on, planted seeds of information and doubt as needed, then watched while everyone else did the work for him.
Derrick partnered with Cody, who was talented at competitions, guiding him on what to do whenever Derrick himself wasn’t directly in power. In fact, Derrick was so smart that he was able to get himself in the ear of whoever was in power, as they all considered him a trusted ally.
Ian Terry (Seasons 14, 22)
It takes a lot of smarts to take out not one, but two of the best in the game: Dan Gheesling and Mike “Boogie” Malin. Ian orchestrated Mike’s eviction, and while he was coached by Dan through the beginning of the game, Ian proved that he had his own path to forge.
When his back was against the wall, Ian pulled out Veto wins. He made smart and strategic decisions, and despite being an underdog in the beginning, he was able to convince the jury to vote for him to win over Dan, a favorite in the house as well as among fans.
Vanessa Rousso (Season 17)
Considered to be one of the best players who never won Big Brother but should have, Vanessa had the entire season on lock until she lost the final, most important competition, leading to Steve evicting her. It was obvious that had he not won, or had he chosen to take her to the end, the jury would have voted for Vanessa to win.
Vanessa was never on anyone’s radar the entire season. Everyone went to her for counsel, and while she wore her heart on her sleeve, it was also due to the pressure of carrying every single vote and eviction. A natural-born leader and talented poker player, Vanessa was a fiercely smart houseguest who did everything right but hit a stroke of bad luck in the end.
Will Kirby (Seasons 2, 7)
Many still consider Dr. Will to be the best to ever play the game. He aligned with the right people and used the powers of manipulation, lies, and cheating with ease, convincing people to follow pretty much anything he said. He even convinced others to fast in the house when they didn’t have to, just to prove how much control he had.
Dr. Will knew exactly what to do and when to do it to further himself in the game. His smarts and charm were a deadly combination in the Big Brother house.
Danielle Reyes (Seasons 3, 7)
Another of the best players to never win the game, many believe that Danielle was short-changed on her season since she played prior to jury sequestering. Thus, she was the victim of a bitter jury who saw her tactics (and candid diary sessions explaining what she was doing) and ended up voting her in second place.
But Danielle was fiercely intelligent. She secretly partnered with someone who was on the other side of the house to share information with each other while no one suspected that they were aligned. It sounds like a common strategy nowadays, but back then, it was a new concept that Danielle helped popularize in the game.
Jun Song (Season 4)
Declared winner in one of the best Big Brother finales, Jun Song was an original version of a “floater,” but she played the strategy perfectly. She made herself useful in the house by making food for the houseguests and providing good conversation.
She floated along to the end, playing in the background, but her social game was one of the best ever in the game. While the idea of the “floater” has shifted through the seasons, Jun actually used “floating” as a great strategy.
Tiffany Mitchell (Season 23)
Many believe that Tiffany is one of the smartest people to ever play the game. Along with Derek F., who came up with the initial idea, she was the mastermind behind the strategy for the Cookout alliance, one of the most entertaining alliances ever on Big Brother. It was Tiffany who suggested each alliance member have a single person outside of the alliance with whom they are close and against whom they would sit on the block when the time came.
She is one of few people who figured out that Xavier wasn’t really a bartender, she knew what was going on with everyone in the house at all times, and she always thought every decision through in terms of how it would both affect her game, but also the alliance’s. It’s no surprise Tiffany was voted America’s Favorite Houseguest on her season.
Eric Stein (Season 8)
Had Eric not been named America’s Player, which made his game all about accomplishing a variety of secret, viewer-assigned tasks for cash prizes, he was on track to win the season. He was playing a great game until America’s Player tasks got in the way. Eric was able to make people do things like flip alliances for the sake of wining various secret prizes. It suggests that, had he been playing for his own interests, Eric could have done really well making the same types of moves.
It’s no surprise that the America’s Player twist, in the same setup, has never returned to the game since.