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Vanessa Selbst

Post-WSOP, on to the next phase(s)

So the WSOP was somewhat of a disappointment, but there was also some positive.  To start with the bad: well, the poker.  I started off the series thinking about making adjustments in my game.  I hadn’t played more than a couple tournaments in each WSOP in a few years, and I think my game has changed in those years in a way that has made me better suited for the deep-stacked big buy-in tournaments that I’ve been doing well in as of late.  I run bigger multi-street bluffs, but I give up on some of the smaller pots that I think I could be fighting for, just because the better structures allow you to do that.  Going into the WSOP, I thought I had to get back to the “fight for the small pots” mentality.  Unfortunately, in the beginning, I took that a bit too far, and busted in some tournaments where I tried to create spots that just weren’t there.  In short, I was too trigger happy a few times and it cost me.  I think that’s the nature of not having played full time in the last three years – I haven’t been playing all different types of poker, so when I focused on one thing, I became somewhat rusty in other areas.  I’m looking forward to being done with law school so I can put more of my focus into playing everything all the time, so I don’t become rusty anymore.

I think after a few tournaments, I figured out a much better balance, and then I simply ran bad.  It happens, and we all know it does, but it does hurt during the WSOP when you’re playing day after day and just take a beating each time.  I’m not in the habit of posting bad beat stories, but let’s just say there were a lot of ugly ones.  And since my style is to play big pots all the time, the beats and the coolers hurt a lot because they’re often for pots that represent the chip lead.  The most disappointing beat was in the 6max $5k PLO, I played a pot for the chip lead with 18 left, and lost it with a lot of equity.  That was my only deep run of the series, other than the events I ended up basically bubbling.  I also had a lot of run bad this summer with my horses – I decided to take a gamble and put a lot of money into many different horses (I had somewhere between 10-50% of about 30 players’ world series) and only 2 of them made any profit at all.

While it’s disappointed to run bad, I’m definitely thankful for the fact that I’m in a position where it doesn’t hurt all that much.  I’m going to use this as a learning tool in a lot of ways – I learned about what types of horses to invest in (for instance, I think proven live results are much more important than super impressive online tournament stats).  I learned that I need to constantly fine tune every aspect of my game before jumping in to the big events.  I can partially blame this on online poker, but I think playing some more of the prelims at EPTs and such would have prepared me better for the tournaments with worse structures.  I plan on doing more of that in the future, for sure.

Besides all my “teachable moments” I’ve had with myself, the summer was productive in other ways – I learned how to wakeboard and went quite a few times, I played golf and tennis, went hiking, and just spent a lot of time outdoors in healthy and productive ways.  I also bonded with a lot of new friends through poker that I had the pleasure to get to know in ways I didn’t before, and I’m excited for the rest of my journey through life on the tournament circuit with some amazing people I get to share that with.  /corny

So, on to the next phase now.  Miranda has left her job as a teacher in Albany and we’re going to be living together now.  It’s the first time I’ve lived with a significant other, and I can’t imagine it being anyone else (I guess that’s a good thing :P)  We’ve been living together for almost a month now, and it’s going great.  She keeps me in check, challenges me to be a better person, and does my laundry and cleans up after me too.  Can’t ask for much more than that!  She’s planning to take this year off to travel with me and see a bit of the world, and also help me out with poker stuff, basically being my part-time manager.  I couldn’t think of anyone else more perfect for that job, either.  She threatened to break up with me if I didn’t keep up with my blog, for instance.  Can’t imagine better motivation than that…

We had planned to settle down to life in NYC, but those plans have been thwarted by Black Friday, unfortunately.  I realized that I need to become a real poker pro, not just someone who dabbles.  I want to play more and I want to keep learning and improving at the games I know.  I also want to get so much better at mixed games, and I know I need to be able to play online to make all those things happen.  We were planning on moving to London so I can play online, but I do need to finish up law school and be somewhere close by while that’s happening.  So for now, I’m going to be splitting my time between Toronto (where I’m going to be setting up), New Haven, and New York City (where she is moving).  I’m still going to travel to tournaments, and hopefully I’ll have some time to keep playing at Pokerstars while I travel internationally.  The next few tournaments for me will be the Epic Poker League tourney in Las Vegas in August, then EPT Barcelona, followed by hopefully defending my title at Partouche.

In between tourneys, I’ll be working hard on papers and classes.  I have to say, law school has been one of the most exhilarating, intellectually stimulating, and rewarding experiences that I have had in my life.  Maybe number 1 on the list, actually.  But it’s also been a big struggle because it’s just so demanding that I don’t have the time to put into poker that I would really like.  I finish up final exams in January (that is, if I ever finish the paper I’m writing now), and then I’m going to focus a lot more on poker than I have been.  That isn’t to say I won’t be doing other law-related projects, but the split will be much more focused on poker when I’m allowed to create my own balance without the rigors of classes and papers.  I think the plan is to live in London in the spring while traveling to EPTs.

I’m excited for what the future holds, but of course, as always with us poker players, it can change any minute, so who really knows?  That’s why I’m constantly trying to live in the “now” and not feel bound by future plans…  and the right now is sitting in a beautiful house in Cape Cod with my grandparents, aunt, uncle, little cousins, and wonderful girlfriend; enjoying the breeze; researching about the First Amendment and theorizing about how to apply it to videotaping police misconduct; and finishing writing cheesy blog entries about life, the universe, and everything.

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