Big Brother is a game in which even the best-laid plans can go awry, so it may be easy to assume winning is random luck. I'll concede there are a lot of variables to consider that lead to times Houseguests should've gone further in the game, but those who follow the "dos and don'ts" of the game often find a path to winning more often than not. Look back at past seasons of the CBS reality series and there's plenty of evidence to support this.
Below, we'll talk about the moves that game winners made to win it all, as well as the errors those who came close to the end made that led to their downfall. If you want to win a future season of Big Brother, these are the tips to follow and avoid.
Do Unite Your Alliance Around A Common Cause
Big Brother alliances can be fickle or sometimes outright fraudulent. It's the nature of the game, which is why establishing a common cause often leads to the strongest bond. The Cookout's quest in Season 23 to secure the flagship game's first Black winner resulted in an unbreakable alliance from the very start, with zero wavering until there was no one else to target.
Don’t Refuse To Use The Veto On Yourself
Denying guaranteed safety in Big Brother is always a foolish decision, especially after winning a veto. Marcellas Reynolds learned that the hard way when he refused to use the veto on himself while on the block in Season 3, and was promptly voted out of the game soon after. Always use the veto on yourself when nominated.
Do Hide How Athletic You Might Be Early On
Big Brother has historically favored athletic and coordinated Houseguests, so more strategic-minded players will often look to those who succeed early as targets for eviction. Season 23 winner Xavier Prather was able to keep a low profile by downplaying his athleticism, and didn't fully start to dominate competitions until the latter half of the game. Had he won sooner, people might've rethought keeping him.
Don’t Agree To Be A Pawn In The Home Stretch
In general, volunteering to be a pawn is never a great strategy. Volunteering to be a pawn in the home stretch is straight-up terrible gameplay, and Shane Meaney learned that the hard way in Big Brother 14. Despite having his showmance, Danielle Murphee as the HOH and veto holder, he was sent packing thanks to masterful manipulation by Dan Gheesling.
Do Win The First HOH And Secure Alliances
Big Brother proper has had twenty-five winners. Of those twenty-five, five won the first Head of Household. Being the first HOH, if played right, is a great way to establish a strong core alliance and get a chance to hear from everyone playing the game. That's probably why they often do well in the game, except for the disastrous first HOH from Season 23 Houseguest Frenchie.
Don’t Underestimate The Nice Guy, Even If They’re Your Ally
Vanessa Rousso was a lock to win Big Brother, but a betrayal by her closest ally, Steve Moses, sent her packing. In the end, her one misstep was assuming Steve would overlook her dominance and hand her the win. She thought wrong, and more credit to Steve for the upset victory.
Do Prepare For The Final Two Questions
Sometimes it may seem like the Final Two portion of Big Brother is a formality, as the jury has had plenty of time to deliberate who is the most deserving winner left. Taylor Hale proved preparing for the Final Two can make all the difference, as she seemingly turned the tides and won over the Season 24 jury with her passionate speech arguing her social accolades trumped her showmance partner Monte Taylor's competitive accolades.
Don’t Skate To The End Without Building Your Resume
Enzo Palumbo made it far in both Big Brother Seasons 12 and 22 by surrounding himself with strong allies, and by remaining generally likable by the entire house. Unfortunately, once arriving at the end, Enzo didn't really have an argument for why he deserved to win over his other allies. Even when he made the Final Two in Season 22, there was no one in the jury who believed he actually deserved to win. Houseguests that make it that far must make a case for why they deserve to be.
Do Try To Win A Lot In The Final Weeks
Competition wins don't guarantee victory in Big Brother, but they certainly help making it to the end much easier. Jag Bains effectively took control of Season 25 with his record-breaking comp run, even if it was slightly unfair that he won back-to-back HOH reigns.
Don’t Ever Give Up On Trying To Save Yourself From Eviction
Every Houseguest should watch Big Brother Season 14, as it contains one of the moments that remind us why we love the show. Dan's Funeral, the iconic game move he pulled off that saved his surefire eviction, came after he spent 24 hours isolated from everyone else. If he was able to overturn his eviction, anyone can.
Do Remind Others How You Likely Won’t Win
Dr. Will Kirby won Big Brother Season 2 by convincing others that he was never going to win. Every time he went up for nomination, he reminded Houseguests he had no chance of winning compared to who he was up against. Before too long, everyone had taken out everyone else capable of winning, which ultimately led to his victory.
Don’t Hide Too Much Of What You’ve Done In The Game To The Jury
While keeping a low profile is vital to Big Brother, it's also important to do enough to ensure others know you're running the game. Tyler Crispen orchestrated much of Season 20 from the shadows, but so much of what he did was subtle, he ended up losing to Kaycee Clark who had a much stronger competition record.
Do Own Up To Your Actions, Even If They’re Unsavory
There will be debates on whether Josh Martinez won Big Brother Season 19 on his own merits, or because the jury disliked Paul Abrahamian that much. Josh might've been a contentious Houseguest, but unlike Paul, he owned that. I'd like to think that made the difference in his 5-4 win.
Don’t Assume People Will Tell The Truth And Do The Right Thing
Tommy Bracco found himself pleading with Holly Allen in the late stages of Big Brother Season 21, asking her to do the right thing. Only Tommy and Holly Allen knew with certainty that Jackson Michie lied, and only she could convince Cliff Hogg and Nicole Anthony about his deception. She didn't, of course, and that decision effectively ruined any hope Tommy had of winning.
Do Your Best To Use Allies As A Shield
Nicole Franzel can be a solid competitor, as she proved with Big Brother: Reindeer Games, but her true strength is her social game. Nicole has thrived in most all of her appearances by aligning with powerful players, and shielding herself behind them. It led to her win in Season 18, and a Final 3 exit in Season 22.
Don’t Target Your Own Alliance If They Aren’t Coming For You
Big Brother Houseguests have plenty of targets they should prioritize in a season, but for some reason, some choose to target their closest allies when backed against a wall. As far as why, that depends on the season, but more often than not, targeting allies is oftentimes a bad call.
Do Stay Invisible When Power Players Are Feuding
Big Brother Season 15 was a season of constant feuds that became so personal and hate-filled that some Houseguests lost their jobs for the things they said. Andy Herren did a good job of laying low throughout most of the season, to the point the show barely featured him in episodes until it became apparent he could win. The big advice here is that when players are feuding, those who stay out of it can only benefit.
Don’t Let Someone Else Run Your Game
Few could fault Danielle Murphee for allowing Dan Gheesling to mentor her through Big Brother Season 14. Unfortunately, her willingness to allow the greatest Houseguest to ever play the game to dictate her strategy ultimately proved to be her demise. The minute Houseguests start thinking less about their game and more about helping others, they've already lost.
Do Use Your Goodbye Messages For Jury Management
Jury management is key to winning Big Brother, and goodbye messages are a great way to both win over jurors and explain your big moves in the game. A little kindness can go a long way, and considering jurors decide who wins, being spiteful is never a good strategy.
Don’t Don’t Have A Terrible Final Two Pitch
GinaMarie Zimmerman had a solid game an average Houseguest could spin for a win, but the Big Brother Season 15 player made one grave error. She made absolutely no effort to prepare for the Final Two questions, choosing instead to plead with jurors to vote for her because "I'm GinaMarie." She ended up losing the vote, 7 to 2 as a result.
Do Realize You Have To Lie To Win
Honesty is a trait that is rarely rewarded in Big Brother, and few if any winners can say they played a completely honest game. Half-truths and outright lies are a normal part of winning, and those who can't accept that are often among the first to leave in a season.
Don’t Piss Off The Jury
Making the jury bad is never a good decision, considering they hold the power over who ultimately wins Big Brother. Ivette Corredero might forever wonder if her spiteful goodbye messages meant the difference between winning and losing against Maggie Ausburn, who had far kinder well wishes.
Do Find At Least One Person You Can Really Trust
The truly difficult part of Big Brother is that only one person can win, and yet, it's impossible to win alone. Every Houseguest needs at least one person they can truly trust in order to win, even if they ultimately want to betray them. Without that, winning the game is nearly impossible.
Don’t Take The Stronger Player In Final Three Even If They’re Your Ally
Cody Calafiore thought his loyalty to Derrick Levasseur would be the better game move for his Final Two choice over Victoria Rafaeli. That decision cost him the game, as Cody would've likely won over Victoria rather than his partner, who was the stronger player. Never take the stronger player when given the choice in Final Three, it never works out.
Do Be Prepared To Make Hard Decisions
Nicole Franzel and Cody Calafiore worked together all throughout Big Brother Season 22, but when it came time to choose his Final Two partner, he learned his lesson from Season 16. Cody betrayed Nicole and took Enzo Palumbo instead. Nicole later unfollowed him on social media, but I bet the prize money helped him overcome that hurt.
Don’t Win Too Much Too Often
Frank Eudy made the classic mistake so many athletic Big Brother players make. The Season 14 Houseguest won too many competitions too early and then was forced to keep winning to stay in the game. Statistically speaking, the odds will eventually play against a Houseguest getting picked for veto, which means there's little they can do at that point to prevent a backdoor nomination and eviction. Always wait to showcase athleticism.
Do Align With People You Genuinely Believe You Can Beat
Jackson Michie may be so controversial that Big Brother left him out of an ad celebrating its 25th anniversary, but he deserves credit for the Final Four alliance he created. Between Holly Allen, Nicole Anthony, and Cliff Hogg, there wasn't one that he couldn't beat in a competition, which made the final stage of the game a breeze once Tommy Bracco was out of the picture.
Don’t Go To the End With A Showmance
Cliff Hogg had a chance to evict Holly Allen in the Final Five stage of the game, which would've put Jackson Michie at a supreme disadvantage in the final weeks. He chose not to, and as a reward, was evicted by Jackson the very next week. Showmances will always look out for each other, even if the relationship doesn't last.
Do Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable
As miserable as it may sound, no one should ever feel comfortable playing Big Brother. In fact, if a Houseguest feels comfortable and they aren't the HOH, they're probably in danger of being evicted. The Houseguests who let their guard down are often the ones to go first, so constant vigilance is needed to win.
Don’t Take Any Potential Jury Vote For Granted
Too many Houseguests in Big Brother have lost the game by just one vote. It just goes to show that no votes should ever be taken for granted, even if the potential winner thinks they're the scum of the Earth.
Do Remember To Play The Game For Yourself, And Not Others
Numerous all-stars in Big Brother Season 22 fell victim to doing what Cody Calafiore dictated, and in doing so, they handed him the win. While compromise is a necessity of the game, no one should ever be making moves others dictate to them if it's not in their best interest to do so.
Don’t Waste Chances To Evict People With Strong Bonds
Two Houseguests can run a season of Big Brother, which is why it's always vital to spot that and take them out. It's easier said than done, of course, but anyone who notices a Final Two pact and doesn't take out the target afterward is a fool.