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Vanessa Selbst


Vanessa Selbst is a professional poker player and the highest earning female poker player of all time, with over $11.6 million in total winnings. She is a member of Team Pokerstars Pro, where she plays under the username “V. Selbst.” A native of Brooklyn, New York, Vanessa has been playing poker for over 10 years, starting out in online and live NLHE and PLO cash games. In 2007, Vanessa hopped onto the live tournament scene and never looked back (apart from that two year hiatus she took to go to law school)!

Selbst has three WSOP bracelets–and is the only woman to win three bracelets in an open WSOP event. Selbst had the best year of her career in 2010, when she won the North American Poker Tour stop at Mohegan Sun for $750,000, finished 4th at the EPT London High Roller Event for over $200,000, and won the Partouche Poker Tour main event in Cannes for over $1.8M. She earned almost $3M in 2010, earning her 6th place on the 2010 money list, several high rankings in player of the year races, and the honor of being named the Wicked Chops player of the year. She once again made waves in 2011, finishing in the quarterfinals of the NBC Heads Up Championship for $75,000, third at the WPT Five Diamond for $338k, and pulling off an incredible back-to-back victory at the NAPT Mohegan Sun.  Her earnings in 2011 totaled just over $1M, meaning she finished two consecutive years with 7 figures in earnings.  In 2012, Selbst captured three titles, including her second WSOP bracelet.  In January 2013, Selbst won the PCA High Roller Event, winning just over $1.4M and taking over the top spot on the Women’s All Time Earnings List.  In 2014, Selbst had another stellar PCA, finishing third in both the Super High Roller and High Roller events.  She went on to win her third WSOP bracelet in May 2014 at $25,000 Mixed Max No Limit Hold’em, taking home $871,148. Selbst’s live tournament earnings now total over $11.6M.

In her time away from poker, Selbst completed a law degree at Yale Law School.  In 2010, Selbst established a foundation called Venture Justice, which funds projects that fight for racial justice and economic equality, and against police misconduct and government abuse of authority.  She also currently serves on the board of the Urban Justice Center and is looking to become more active in other organizations that fight for civil rights.

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Law school was one of the most intellectually challenging experiences of my life. Still, I managed to stay disciplined and focused, working long but interesting and invigorating hours. I did that for almost two full years, up until a pesky little poker tournament called NAPT Mohegan Sun 2010. From that point on, the card tables drew me away from the library tables, and all I wanted to do was play poker. I hopped on the poker circuit, began traveling to NAPTs and EPTs, and haven’t looked back.

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One Poker Tip

Question (submitted by Kevin via Facebook Fan Page): What's the key strategy to make your loose aggressive style works so well? Answer: It's really simple actually - the key to a loose aggressive style is understanding opponent tendencies (as well as board textures and ranges) well enough to know when people are strong or weak or when they have a propensity to call too much or fold too much, and then in bluffing often in the situations where they are likely to fold, you can get paid way too often in the spot where it's pretty obvious they have something and simply won't let go to YOU at any price. So it starts by opening a lot of pots and making small bluffs here and there.  If I see there is a person who always calls the flop but usually folds the turn, I start to two-barrel him a lot more but not fire the third bullet.  If I see there's a person who always bets her hand and when she checks she is weak, I just fire every time I'm checked to, and often very big because I know she doesn't have a hand she can call with. Pay attention to what turn cards help your range versus their range and fire when you get turns that help your range more.  Like if I raise preflop and someone flat calls me and the flop comes 962 and I bet and they call, and the turn is a K, I'm going to bet that a very high % of the time, because I know his most likely holding is a small pair or even Ace high that can't call.  Against some especially stubborn types who will interpret my bet on the K as weak because they realize I am always betting it, I might choose not to and wait for a situation where the turn card actually improves me and get paid by hero calls way too often. That's another thing - simply by trying extra hard to pick on the weak players at the table, your image will seem ultra-aggressive.  Isolate the weak players.  3-bet them and fire relentlessly.  Then when you are up against the more stubborn types, value bet your hands really forcefully - you'll be surprised just what people call you with when they don't believe you.