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Vanessa Selbst

Blog, blarg, blurg

Let me start from the end and work my way backwards.  That always seems like a less daunting approach to reflecting on the last month or two of my life.

My immediate past was twenty-four minutes of pure, unadulterated euphoria (see below list point in re: watching the Wonder Years on Netflix). Before those twenty-four minutes is somewhat of a blur, but I will do the best I can with what I can remember.  I say that as somewhat of a joke, but those who know me well know that my memory (or lack thereof) is the quality I hate most about myself.  I don’t remember much from last week, let alone last month or last year, and it constantly plagues me as I try to remember anything and everything.  Things like the names of people I’ve met once or twice in casual social situations, what book Miranda read recently and what her thoughts were on it, what books I have read and what they were about, or experiences I’ve shared with friends that have lasted a day or even a week, sometimes become completely obscure in my mind.  Often, when I tell people about this deficiency, they respond with one of two reactions.  Either they appeal to logic to convince me that I must be mistaken: “How could you be so good at poker if you don’t remember things?”  Or they offer helpful advice: “Maybe you should try writing more?”  Well, my answer to the first set of reactions is this: I don’t know why I’m good at poker, but I’d probably be a whole lot better if I remembered more things.  Please stop trying to use your logic to out-lawyer me.  The answer to the second set of people is that I DO write things down, as in I document the day-to-day, the things that seem important… but I’m nowhere near as good as I should be about it.  And while writing a list of things documents which movie I saw, what wines I like, or what friend got which new job that day, it doesn’t much help for keeping it in my mind.  So here I am, attempting to reconcile my shortcomings, and hoping that through writing and reflection, I will remember more of my life and maybe understand myself a bit better in the process.

Well I guess I haven’t gotten very far in my “work backwards” approach to writing this blog.  I think the dangerous combination of a piss-poor memory and severe ADD (which I have, not in the colloquial sense of the ailment that has become popular to use as hyperbole, but as in, I can’t listen to more than five seconds of someone speaking without my mind trailing off somewhere no matter how hard I try) leads to a lot of stream-of-consciousness tangents (and excessive parenthetical asides as well).

OK let me go back to the tried and true method that I’ve loved so much in the past (and that I just disparaged not five minutes ago).  Working backwards, I have, in the last month and change:

1. Watched the Wonder Years pilot on Netflix.  After years of desperately searching for re-runs of the Wonder Years on television and being disappointed, I doubted that I would ever get to experience Kevin’s journey through puberty into adulthood again.  I had lost all hope years ago, but seemingly out of nowhere, Netflix added The Wonder Years to its instant watch library.  The morning Netflix ritual that Miranda and I have informally established (in the past reserved for marathons of Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, and the Tudors) just transformed our living room into my childhood living room.  Once again, I voyeuristically delighted in Kevin’s triumph as he and Winnie shared their very first kiss.   I don’t know what it is about the Wonder Years that made it so pleasurable to watch as a child, but I’m excited to find out again as I watch it for the first time as an adult.

2. Read 150 pages of my Administrative Law textbook – Big takeaway: separation of powers is important in the law of agencies but sometimes becomes murky as Article I and II functions are both necessary to the proper functioning of those agencies.  Fascinating, I know.  I could probably tell you more specifically what was in the reading if every thirty pages weren’t read half-heartedly, desperately wanting for my next fix of Tiny Wings (thanks Dylan Wilkerson!)

3. Began an actual diet.  I haven’t really been on one of these since my teenage years and if I have been, I would never admit it.  In the past, I was always ashamed to admit when I was “on a diet.”  It felt weak, cliché, and shallow.  Yet now, after a month of eating pizza, pasta, and meat covered in heavy cream sauces, at Michelin-star restaurants in London or beach-side restaurants in France and Italy, the diet seems appropriate and absolutely necessary.  And only through speaking about it can I truly become healthier – it’s hard to come up with enough excuses for rejecting social situations involving rich food or alcohol otherwise.  So there it is.  I’m on a diet, and it’s been fantastic so far.  So far this week I have basically only eaten food that I’ve made for myself, including eggs, salads with chicken, chicken, salads without chicken, quinoa salad, chicken sausage, and to switch things up: overcooked, shitty porkchops.  Seriously, those porkchops were the worst dish I’ve cooked in over a year.  I guess it’s back to salad, and I’ll keep you guessing as to whether or not I’ll put chicken on it.  Is the suspense killing you?  Yeah, me too.  Ugh.  But I guess that’s when diets work – when the food is so tedious and boring to eat that eating isn’t something to look forward to anymore.  Or maybe that’s how hell works… I’m not really sure

4. Went to Europe.  Oh yeah, that whole thing.  Well, we started in London for a week, then headed to Cannes for a week and a half.  After that, two days in Paris, followed by six days in San Remo, Italy.  I played a bunch of poker while I was there, which is good, because it was a poker trip, after all.  In the last month, I have experienced something that I’ve been fortunate enough not to go through in my life as a tourney pro before.  I went deep in almost every single event that I played, and because the London and WSOPE mains and London high roller were three of only five events on the trip that I failed to cash, I came out losing money.  In London, I made 2 day 2’s of side events and ended up busting the first before the money and making $6k or so for a 7th place in the next one.  In Cannes, I made 3 of 3 day 2’s in prelims.  The first, the 6max, I punted when I bluffed off half of my chips to Phil Hellmuth and then donated the rest to him by 4bet/calling AJ in a very bad spot.  The shootout I cashed but busted round 2 when I slowplayed KK to Max Silver’s 3rd 3bet from the small blind out of my 5 button opens.  He had 64s and triple barreled the 86668 board and that was all she wrote.  Then I ended up 30th in the 1k when I lost QQ<AQ for a pile of chips.  I busted the main pretty quickly, and then the next poker was in San Remo.  There, I went deep in the main – I ended up busting 40th I believe when I 3bet AKo from the SB and bet a J42r flop.  The turn brought the Qd and I made a big bet to try to get Alessio Isaia off of a middle pair.  He shoved all in with a stack that greatly covered mine, and all I could thing was that I only lost to QJ and a set, and I just didn’t think he was very strong on the flop so I discounted sets quite a bit.  There were just so many combo draws that he could have that I wound up calling it off.  He had QJ and I busted.  It never feels very good to bust out of a main event putting someone on exactly a flop float in a 3bet pot turned combo draw, but I actually think out of all my questionable tourney bust-out hands in recent memory, that was the one I am probably most confident about.  Anyway, I made about $12.5k there, which was not enough to cover the rest of the losses, but so it goes.  I’m not sick like Timex or Elio Fox who both busted the main on day 5 and immediately jumped in the high roller, and the east coast was calling me the following day, so that was the last poker I played on that trip

5. Actually enjoyed Paris.  Miranda and I visited my friend Pierre (PV) and his girlfriend Malin and they were wonderful hosts.  Pierre didn’t know all that much about the sites of Paris, but he graciously pretended to while taking us on a tour of his city.  We also met their friends, got great food, and all in all just had a wonderful time.  I had been to Paris before and did not care for it very much.  The people had been rude and the city uninspiring to me.  But it was completely different this time around – seeing it through the lens of a romantic trip with my girlfriend in a romantic city, hosted by friends whom I adore… it really was just a magical way to get away from the poker scene for two of the days of a long trip.  I think in the future I’m going to try to punctuate more of these epic poker journeys with quick weekend getaways

6. Shared an apartment with friends for a poker tournament, which is 100x better than living in a hotel.  The place was cheaper, the food cheaper and healthier as we cooked most of our meals, and the environment so much more social.  There’s nothing I hate more than busting a tournament and then wallowing in self-pity in a room by myself.  Being able to wallow in self-pity among people is so much better!  Seriously though, I always love spending time with friends after busting tournaments (and in general), so being able to come back to an apartment full of people to have fun and take my mind off of poker until the next tournament is not only more enjoyable, but it probably also has a significant positive effect on my poker game.  I’m definitely going to try to organize more of these living situations in the future – or if any of my other friends feel like giving it a go… please… feel free… seriously… oh, who am I kidding?

Team Butter

I could probably write more specifically about all of the things we did, food we ate, Breaking Bad we watched, or fruit ninja I played (booya Kevin, 1145 on arcade mode!).  And while that would probably help me appreciate and remember better, it might bore everyone else.  I know I’d have stopped reading this blog ages ago if I were you.  Plus, writing about food just makes me it more, and even typing the words “fruit ninja” is making me hungry.  So I guess with that I’ll leave with another one of my perpetual promises to write more for myself, and for all my friends who warmly say to me “shut the F up with your bitching about your memory and do something about it.”  I love you guys.

6 Responses to “Blog, blarg, blurg”


  • Kyle W Says:

    Nice blog yo. Very sophisticated appeal. Seems like you’ve gotten better at NL Cash! That’s tight. Couple of your vids have been removed by the user for what its worth.


  • maggie lee Says:

    Broil up a hunka fresh salmon and put warm pieces on cold salad in place of chicken. Good for brain, heart and changes things up. Always ignore calories in salmon.

    Nice blog.


  • pfayn Says:

    Yeah apts are definitely the way to go. Travelled around France this summer mostly staying in pretty dope (and relatively cheap) places on Airbnb.

    As for your memory issue, I haven’t tried it myself but I heard Piracetam really helps with that.

    Where’s the next poker stop?


  • vanessa Says:

    Thanks, I will check that out. I’m taking the month off to focus on school, so the next poker stop is December for the WPT at Bellagio and the Epic Poker League tournament, and then PCA after that in January.


  • reloaded Says:

    did you ever have the tiger parents for any class? and if you could explain chevron step zero for me i’d appreciate it (j/k)


  • Wendy Says:

    Keep up the blogging know your mega busy but it nice to read about your travels-Happy Holidays!

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