Vanessa Selbst

Vanessa Selbst is one of the top female poker players in the game today. She’s earned more than $7 million in prize money, which has catapulted her to the top of the Women’s All Time Money List, and 44th overall. Due to her consistent success, aggressive style of play and the work that she puts into her game, we have no doubt she’ll be putting more and more of the men to shame as time goes on.

A Brief Look Into Vanessa’s Life

Growing up Vanessa liked to play games and solve puzzles. Her mother Ronnie, also an MIT graduate, taught her how to play games like Mastermind. But instead of just telling her how to do things, she taught Vanessa to think of the ‘why.’ Why make this move or play instead of that one? This is the type of thinking that breeds poker superstars.

Following high school Vanessa enrolled into MIT, but later transferred to Yale to study Civil Rights Law. While at school she played tennis, rugby, was the head of the Yale Queer-Straight Alliance and participated in sketch comedy classes.

It was also about this time that she got into poker.

During her sophomore year Chris Moneymaker won the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event. Shortly thereafter she found herself playing in local poker games, as well as travelling to Playstation and Mayfair, well-known underground poker clubs.

She also played online, both at PokerStars and Party Poker. At this time she wasn’t what you’d consider ‘good,’ but according to her, that was because she was experimenting with different hands and plays. She was trying to find her own style. And when she wasn’t playing a lot of her time was spent analyzing hands and discussing theory at TwoPlusTwo.

In 2005 she took a short break from poker. She traveled to Spain on a scholarship to study gay marriage. Unfortunately, that following November her mother Ronnie passed away. Vanessa fell into a depression and used poker as an escape.

Despite having success (in poker) in 2005-2006, she picked up a job at a consulting firm, only to crunch the numbers and realize that she could make just as much, if not more, playing poker, but in less time. Shortly after she realized she needed a break, so she enrolled into Yale for her 2nd degree. She played poker on the side until she graduated. Now it’s a full time focus which has worked out well for her.

Tournament Results, Awards, Records, Etc.

Despite being a younger player Vanessa has had some impressive results. The following are her top tournament results from the last several years..

  • 2006 WSOP #6 – 7th - $101,285
  • 2007 WSOP #31 – 3rd - $128,968
  • 2008 WSOP #19 – 1st - $227,933
  • 2008 WSOP #25 – 3rd - $108,288
  • 2010 NAPT Mohegan Sun – 1st - $750,000
  • 2010 Partouche Poker Tour – 1st - $1,823,430
  • 2011 NAPT Mohegan Sun – 1st - $450,000
  • 2011 Five Diamond World Poker Classic – 3rd - $338,351
  • 2012 LA Poker Classic – 1st - $140,294
  • 2012 WSOP #52 – 1st - $244,259
  • 2013 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure – 1st - $1,424,420
  • 2013 EPT Grand Final Monaco – 4th - $380,656

Vanessa is the first player to win the NAPT Mohegan Sun tournament back-to-back. She also earned her 2nd bracelet that year, soon to be followed by her score at the PokerStars Caribbean – her first 7 figure score.

What is Vanessa Selbst Doing Today?

Today Vanessa still plays poker, with the majority of her focus on tournaments. From looking at her recent successes I would say that she’s not slowing down any time soon.

She also coaches other poker players. Back in college she started coaching and making videos at Deuces Cracked. She coaches players outside of DC, too, even live. Vanessa charges $650 per hour for online coaching and 1-4 day programs for live coaching with prices ranging from $4-$12k. Vanessa states that she’s always loved to coach:

I have always loved teaching, ever since my brother and I started “The Tutoring Team” when I was in sixth grade. I find fewer things more gratifying than a student experiencing real success, and as a result, I’m dedicated to making sure my students receive the best instructions possible. I encourage them to see me as a mentor rather than just a teacher or lesson-giver… meaning I make myself available as much as possible for instruction outside of our normal session times. The more my students put in, the more they get out of it, and I love seeing that process at work.

Vanessa has mentioned in interviews that she wants to use her degree from Yale to fight for racial and economic equality, against police misconduct and abuse of authority. Her goal is to earn enough money to fund a foundation dedicated to creating various national civil rights projects.

3 Facts About Vanessa Selbst

Here are some interesting facts about Vanessa Selbst.

1. Along with Jennifer Harman, Vanessa is one of few women to have won (multiple) WSOP bracelets in open (poker) events.

2. Early in 2013 she proposed to her partner. She proposed the night before a big event, thinking that it might give her good luck.

3. Even during her “break” while she attended Yale for the 2nd time, Vanessa still managed to win more than $1 million in tournament earnings.