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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Where Are They Now – Vanessa Rousso

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Where are They Now is a series of an in depth look at all poker players - not just the pros - as they travel through one long game. Some of the players profiled are deceased but not forgotten.

When Vanessa Rousso first appeared in the poker world many believed she had a pretty face but didn’t have the poker skills to match.  In other words, they thought she didn’t have the brains to match the beauty.  Many veteran professionals had the thought that once again sponsorships were going to young, good looking players, instead of players that have been on the grind for as long as those young guns have been alive.  Over the last few years people who held that thought have been proven wrong.  Rousso is certainly a pretty girl, but she is also among the most intelligent people, both at and away from the table in the world of poker today.
Vanessa Rousso was born to a French father and an American mother on February 5, 1983.  Because of that, Rousso has dual citizenship.  Rousso was born in White Plains, New York, but quickly moved to Paris, France because her father is a businessman there.  All the moving didn’t hinder her education, as she began learning to read at a very young age, according to her mother.  Also, by the age of five she was showing an interest in games that required a lot of thought, including chess, backgammon, and of course poker.   When Rousso was 10 her parents got a divorce, and she moved to Florida with her mother, to be closer to her grandparents.

Throughout school Rousso continued her game playing, but was also interested in physically competing in a number of sports.  In high school she played basketball, lacrosse, softball, and was a member of the swim team.  Rousso also excelled in her education, and was accepted to Duke University, her top choice.

Rousso has joked that she always likes doing things in half the time they usually take.  She has said in interviews that she feels like it’s a waste of time for her not to take advantage of a situation that would allow her to do things in a shorter time.  That’s why it was no surprise to those who know her when she finished her Economics degree in just two and a half years, a record for the university.  Rousso was then accepted to Law School at the University of Miami.  It was the summer between Duke and Miami that she started to take poker seriously.

At only 20 years old, she was not yet legally allowed to enter casinos, so she started playing under the name LadyMaverick at Pokerstars, a name she continues to use today as part of her sponsorship deal.  When she did turn 21 she began playing at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino.  Rousso began playing No Limit Hold’em one table tournaments, where the winner would get $250.  Rousso was able to save up a couple thousand dollars, and with that she made her first trip to Atlantic City.  Upon arrival she promptly took her couple thousand and ran it up to over $17,000.  On a trip to Las Vegas she entered a tournament for $200 and finished 7th for another $6,465.  With these successes Rousso began to realize she could have a future in the game.  It was also a nice way to spend her summer vacation.
Rousso first played in the World Series of Poker in 2005, while she finished in the money of the Ladies Only Event that year, it wouldn’t be until the next year that she first announced her arrival on the scene.  In April of 2006 she entered the $25,000 WPT Championship at the Fourth Annual Five-Star World Poker Classic.  She finished 7th for $263,625.  At that year's WSOP she finished in the money of three events, including making the final table of the $5,000 Short Handed No Limit Event, finishing in 8th place.  However, the summer would get even better for Rousso, as she would not only go on to finish in the money of two WPT events, but she would win the 2006 Borgata Poker Open, winning $285,450.  One year later she finished second for $700,000 for at PokerStars World Series of Online Poker Championship.

Naturally the critics said she would just be another flash in the pan, and before too long the pretty girl would move on to something less challenging.  Rousso took these challenges to heart, and has shown recently that she has no plans to go anywhere.  The year of 2009 was the most successful of her career.  On top of getting married to fellow poker pro Chad Brown she had numerous successes at the poker table.  To start the year she finished 7th at the WPT Southern Poker Championship, for nearly $80,000.  In March she finished second at the NBC National Heads-Up Championship for a quarter of a million dollars.   Two months later she won the biggest championship of her young career, winning the European Poker Tour’s High Roller Championship for $749,467.  That win alone doubled her career winnings.  She ended her spectacular year placing in four WSOP tournaments, and also won $120,000 on an episode of NBC’s Poker After Dark.

Rousso has used her new found fame for a lot of good in the poker world as well.  In 2007 Rousso was one of the representatives for the 800,000 member Poker Players Alliance and went to Washington D.C. to try to convince Congress to overturn the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.  Rousso also continues to represent pro-gambling law on both the state and national level.

Rousso also likes to have fun.  In 2009 she posed for a picture in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.  Rousso likes to maintain a healthy physical condition in a world that has more than a fair share of its participants hovering above an unhealthy weight.  Rousso also continues to play many of the sports she did in high school.  Rousso has also been said to be an “adrenalin junky” by her friends, and she proves that by sky-diving and bungee jumping.  One question she gets asked a lot is if it was really her bungee-jumping in the PokerStars commercial.  It was indeed.  

Rousso has also lent her teaching skills to the world of poker.   Last year she was flown to Las Vegas to teach poker to the “Forbes 100 Most Powerful Woman.”  She also teaches a poker camp in South Florida, which is where her poker career started just a few years ago.

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