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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 $10.5 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 $10.5M.

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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I have loved tennis for almost as long as I can remember. I started playing when I was around 10, and I quickly took to the sport. I played at summer camps, took lessons during the week, participated in USTA tournaments, and played for my school’s varsity tennis team during high school. It’s safe to say that for four or five years, tennis was my biggest hobby. The last time I played competitive tennis was on the team at MIT during my freshman year of college, but I still play just for fun whenever I can. It’s well known on the poker tournament circuit that wherever I am, I will probably have my rackets in tow, always ready for a game.

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One Poker Tip

Question (submitted by Barron via Facebook Fan Page): Is it a bad thing if people are bluffing me or raising my bets with second best? Any opinion on the psychology of these players would be awesome. Answer: As with most things in poker, people raising you with bad hands can be good for us or bad for us, depending on how we handle it.  If you notice that they frequently make bets with bad hands, then just call them down.  The key is to really try to figure out which streets they make these bluffs or speculative raises on.  For instance, there are plenty of players who raise a lot on the flop but then shut down.  There are also players who like to play aggressively on the turn but don't fire the river. There are some players who never bluff multiway pots but attack heads-up pots relentlessly.  Once you identify what type of player it is and what the player's tendencies are, you can adjust accordingly.  If they never fire the river, then call the turn but fold the river to another bet, even if nothing changes with respect to the board texture!  The biggest mistake I see less experienced players making in these situations is that they identify an "aggressive player" and fail to understand which situations and board textures the person is aggressive on, leading them to call down the very big bets of aggressive players in spots where they are likely to have a good hand. As an aggressive player, I'm just looking for spots where I believe my opponent is likely to be weak or where my opponent is likely to give me credit for a big hand.  In other spots where I believe my opponent should have a strong hand, I'm not going to bluff very often at all.