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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Where Are They Now – Vanessa Selbst

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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.

Vanessa Selbst is one of the best poker players that not many people have heard of.  From time to time we’ve run across players in our “Where Are They Now” series that fits that description.  Some poker players prefer to stay under the radar.  They feel it’s easier for them to make more money when they go into a casino if everyone there doesn’t feel ‘out to get them’ because they are the “big star.”  Others, maybe because of their quiet personality, just seem to quietly go about their business, and in this business that’s winning a lot of money, without ever getting directly in the spotlight.  In the case of Selbst, she may be a little of both.  She has some big scores in big events on her resume, but at the same time seems to shy away from the camera that others in her field are always trying to get in front of.  What we do know about Selbst is both impressive and interesting, and considering she’s only 25 years old there is still a lot more of her story to go.

Vanessa Selbst was born in Brooklyn, New York on July 9, 1984.  She started playing poker for fun when some of her friends started playing when they got into high school.  Selbst has said in interviews that she wasn’t very good, but she was better than the people she was playing, which she says is most important of any poker you find yourself in.  While she was able to make a few dollars from the game the thought of playing professionally never even crossed her mind.  Instead she was focused on her education and getting into a good college.  She was able to do just that when she was accepted to one of the top universities in America, Yale, in New Haven, Connecticut.
While pursuing a degree in Political Science she started playing poker with some fellow students.  One of the players she learned a lot from was Ariel Schneller who is known as one of the best online poker players in the world, and is perhaps better known by his name on the 2 + 2 poker forums, FoxwoodsFiend.  Still, in Selbst’s own words she “sucked” at poker until near the end of her four years at Yale when she took her game to the next level.  She joined 2 + 2 under the name “fslexcduck,” a name she continues to use today as one of the more popular posters on the site.  She took in all the wisdom from the players, and started using what she learned in her own game.
She started playing online, but she didn’t have great results right off the bat.  She first deposited $100 dollars, ran it up to $1000, but lost it all playing cash games out of her comfort zone.  She again deposited $100, and ran it up to $2000, and she says when she was about to play above her limits she came across something called “bankroll management” that changed her game forever.  When she started playing in 2004 articles on bankroll management weren’t as prevalent as they are now and nobody seemed to note the importance of it as they do now.  Selbst is a self-described “nit,” meaning she hardly, if ever, takes shots even close to outside her range.  To date she says she has only played up to $50/100 NL, despite her bankroll being able to handle a bigger game.
In 2006, after a couple of years grinding online, and getting a bit tired of the scene, she started participating in some live tournaments, and unlike the start of her online career, her live career got off to a great start.  The first two World Series of Poker Tournaments she cashed in included a final table, finishing 7th in the $2,000 No Limit Hold’em event for $101,285.  The following year was even more impressive, making two final tables.  Selbst finished 8th in the $1,000 Woman’s only Championship event for $20,480 and 3rd in the $5,000 Heads-Up World Championship for $128,968.
Amazingly her 2008 was ever better, and it started before that year’s WSOP, which also turned out well for her.  Selbst earned her first major tournament victory in February when she won the $1,000 buy-in ladies only event on the World Poker Tour at the L.A. Poker Classic, earning $26,500.  She finished the L.A. Poker Classic by cashing in two more events.  In April she finished second at another WPT ladies only event, adding another $40,000 to her bankroll.  In case there was any doubt she could hang with the fellas on the tournament circuit, she earned her first WSOP bracelet by winning the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha Event, winning a career high $227,933 in the process.  A few days later she finished 3rd in the $10,000 Heads-Up Championship for $108,288.  She closed one of the best years for a young poker player in recent history by winning the $1,850 No Limit Event at the 2008 World Poker Finals in Mashantucket ending her year with a deposit of $115,000.

Selbst has taken a step back from poker in the recent months to head off to Yale Law School, where she is a member of the class of 2011.  Her studying is with a focus on human rights issues.  Although she has returned to school she hasn’t stepped completely away from the game.  She both helps run, and is a coach, for the respected poker training site, where you can use her services for $650 an hour.
Although she has taken a break from the poker scene she is definitely still a force in the few events she continues to play both online and live.  Her seven cashes in WSOP events are a huge percentage of the number of events she’s played, making that number even more impressive.  To date she has won just under $800,000 in live tournament cashes.

*Read Billy Monroe's Blog*

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