The Traitors Australia is in full swing, and already, Australian Survivor alum Luke Toki is catching strays. Chatting to The Latch over the phone after the Season 2 premiere of the reality competition, Luke says that yes, his reputation as the King of the Jungle preceded him.
“The heat is always on me!” he says of his time on The Traitors 2023.
It’s not for nothing. Luke quickly became a fan favourite when he first competed on Australian Survivor back in 2017, and cemented his status when he returned for Australian Survivor: Champions Vs Contenders 2 as ‘The People’s Champion’ in 2019.
Luke and his wife Mary have two sons, Lennox and Nate, who have autism and a daughter, Madeline, who has cystic fibrosis. The $500K prize money on Australian Survivor would have been life-changing for them and their family. When Luke was eliminated on Day 47 at the Final 4, fans were devastated, and quickly organised a GoFundMe for him. Luke may not have won Australian Survivor, but he won the hearts of viewers, who quickly raised over $550K for him.
In 2021, Luke competed on Big Brother VIP. When he made it to the Grand Finale, the public crowned him the winner. His prize? $110,000 donated to the Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation for Cystic Fibrosis Clinical Research.
Now, Luke is back on our screens again for The Traitors Australia.
View this post on Instagram
Experience Vs Reputation: A Double-Edged Sword
On the one hand, Luke has entered the competition with a wealth of experience navigating reality competitions. He’s accustomed to competitions that require a balance of strategy, challenges and social skills. On the other hand, everyone there knows he has that experience. It puts an immediate target on his back.
Luke recalls the “full on quiet” moments after the Traitors were selected.
“The tension was so quiet, and no one wanted to say the first word,” he says. “I went and go, ‘one of you guys is a Traitor, and youse are lying!’ and INSTANTLY, I thought ‘oh my God, what the hell did I do that fort?!’”
“That’s probably something a stupid-ass Luke the Traitor would do!” he says. “And then instantly, they all think I’m a Traitor!”
Luke adds that as the game evolves, there’s also a mentality among the contestants “where it’s like, ‘this dude has to be [a Traitor]”.
But while the heat may be on Luke, he says it’s maybe not as difficult to navigate as you might expect.
Avoiding Elimination: How Luke Does It
As we chat, I mention that I would most likely see him as a threat and want to vote him out the second I saw him arrive.
“But see you say that, right, but then me and you could’ve been hanging out, having the absolute time of our lives through the game!” he replies. “And then you’re gonna go ‘well, do you know what? We might try to get him later’ — that’s if you’re a Traitor. Or, it might be too late. That’s what people do.”
Another possibility, he says, is that “they go, ‘oh, if we get rid of Luke, we’ve got these other people that I’m not really vibing with’.
“Or someone might think you’re a Traitor, right?” he posits. “And then I’m the only person who’s helping you to sway that, so then you’re gonna go, ‘well, I can’t get rid of Luke, because Luke’s actually helping keep the heat off me’.”
View this post on Instagram
On Being Selected as a Faithful
If you’re surprised that Luke wasn’t selected to be a Traitor, don’t worry. He is too!
“Do you know what?” he says. “It’s so weird when you’re in there, and then you don’t get the tap on the shoulder. I was just waiting and waiting thinking, ‘nah, I’ll DEFINITELY get the tap on the shoulder!’, but nup!”
Still, he’s not disappointed to be playing the game as a Faithful. Before going into the show, Luke says he “tried not to think about if [he] wanted to be one of not”, because he didn’t want to set up any pre-conceived ideas of how he would play the game.
“I just went in there thinking ‘whatever is, is, and then I’ll sit there and process what I am once I realise what it is’,” he says.
The Benefit of Being a Faithful
Coming from Australian Survivor and Big Brother VIP, Luke says that it’s “actually crazy… just being able to talk, and be quite honest” in his gameplay.
He explains: “My whole game now is [to] figure out how I can get enough people to believe me if I think someone is a Traitor, to then vote with me to vote a Traitor out, when I could get it completely wrong, you know?!”
Noting that it’s “one of the hardest” strategy games, Luke says it’s now time to put all his Survivor skills to the test “to be able to read people and to see if [he] can figure out who the Traitors are”.
“And that’s the thing,” he says. “There’s undercover cops in there, there’s psychologists in there, and it’s like ‘are we all going to be able to put together a good case for who we think the Traitors are?’ Or are you gonna be a s**t psychologist, a s**t undercover cop?
“Because in the end, that’s your skill, isn’t it?!” he continues. “Like, you talk it up — ‘I can READ people’s minds’ and blah blah blah — now we get to see. Are we as good as we say?”
View this post on Instagram
How Luke Changed His Strategy for The Traitors Australia
“You are analysing everything in that game, it’s much, much different than Survivor,” Luke says of his Traitors strategy.
One of the main reasons, he explains, is the fast pace of the game, and the power the Traitors hold over the Faithful.
“It just shows how quickly and easily you can be murdered at night time, and then you don’t have a chance to voice your opinion,” he says. “You have to be very careful about who you voice your opinion to about who is a Traitor. Because even if you get it right, there could be people who are just like ‘why would you do that, you’re wrong, I trust this person!’”
“As much as I’m talking a bit of smack in the confessionals as always — I’m watching!” he says. “I’m looking at who’s talking to who.”
Luke says that often, contestants will form “little groups”, or will have a best friend in the game. But if the friendship doesn’t make sense to him, it’s a red flag.
“If someone’s got a best friend that I think’s a little bit like… ‘mmm, they shouldn’t really be hanging out and talking that often’,” he says, “you start to think, ‘are they only talking because they’re Traitors?”
View this post on Instagram
What Makes Luke Toki Good at Navigating Games Like The Traitors
Yes, Luke is coming into The Traitors with a ton of previous experience. But what characteristics does he have that make him good at navigating games like this?
“Hmm,” he begins. “Well I think I’ve always been one to be like ‘let’s just make this experience a fun experience’, and then that kind of disarms people to think that I’m not really going to be… that I’m not a threat. I’m like ‘let’s just have fun!’ But in the same sentence, I’m kinda like ‘we’ll have fun, but I’m also going to be going to work’.”
Luke says another key element is his tendency to talk to everyone, and “get as many people close” as possible.
“‘Coz if I sit there and I think ‘all right, I like this person’, and we start talking, we start hanging out, I might start noticing little shifts in that person’s personality, that I could go ‘oh my God, they’re either being recruited, or they are giving off vibes that they’re a bit fishy, and they’re a Traitor’,” he explains. “And if I do that to enough people… that’s pretty much my whole concept!”
While others will “pigeon-hole themselves into their best friend group”, Luke says a key part of his gameplay is to “talk to more people than other people do”. By doing this, he not only picks up on more social cues from his fellow contestants, but he can use this information to sway conversations.
“I could sit there and go to one of the players ‘hey have you spoken to this person?’, and they go ‘oh, not really’, and it’s like, ‘see I have, and I’ve picked up on certain social cues that they’ve done, and I don’t think they’re a Traitor’,” he explains.
But will Luke’s skills take him all the way to the end? Will he be able to hunt down the Traitors, before they get him? Only time will tell. Until then…
The Traitors Australia airs at 7.30pm, Mondays and Tuesdays, only on 10 and 10 Play on Demand. Missed an episode? Catch up now on 10 Play.
Want more The Traitors? Read all our content here, and check out the stories below:
- ‘The Traitors’ Is Back for 2023, and Luke Toki Is Entering the Mansion
- The Stunning Hotel Where ‘The Traitors’ Was Filmed
- The Rules of ‘The Traitors’, Explained
- Meet Michelle, the Admin Behind Reality TV’s Favourite Facebook Groups
- Well Well Well, It’s Time to Meet ‘The Traitors’ of 2023
- ‘The Traitors Australia’ 2023: Everyone Who’s Been Murdered and Banished
- Rodger Corser on How ‘The Traitors Australia’ Has Evolved for 2023