MEET THE LATEST WSOP CHAMPION – VANESSA SELBST
Vanessa Selbst is a 27-year-old law school graduate and poker professional originally from Brooklyn, NY. She now resides in Las Vegas, NV.
In 2008, Selbst became the first woman to win a WSOP open event since Katja Thater in the 2007 Razz championship. She became the first woman to win another open event, since her win victory four years ago.
Selbst is a Yale University graduate. She eventually plans to work on behalf of human rights issues. Selbst now owns two WSOP gold bracelets. Her first was in the $1,500 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha event, back in 2008.
Selbst was formally the producer of a popular poker website called Deuces Cracked - www.deucescracked.com. The website serves as an instruction course for poker players. She is also a poker teacher/coach and commands fees of up to $350 per hour.
Selbst states that she believes in having a life aside from poker. She believes one can be a better poker player through what she terms “proper balance”. She is also civically active and politically-minded.
Note: Selbst will be classified as a pro poker player in WSOP records, since she plays full-time and has been in the game for about five years.
INTERVIEW WITH THE WINNER
Question: Vanessa, obviously this is a very jubilant moment for you. But let’s talk about women in poker. You were the last one to win an open event, in 2008, and you win here again. Does that get tiring -- to so often hear things about being a woman instead of just a great poker player?
Selbst: No, honestly I’m happy to be able to represent women a bit. I think a lot of women see me as someone to look up to in terms of what I’ve accomplished. I love that I get to do that. This year has been such an incredible year for women. We’re seeing how much better women in poker are getting. We just keep on getting better. I’m just really proud to be able to represent – or to be one of many representatives of – that group. So no, it doesn’t get tiring.
Question: You talk about getting better. I think that’s a very scary prospect with your educational background, poker accomplishments, that maybe you’re not even at your peak. Can you really get better?
Selbst: Personally, everyone can always improve. I definitely have a lot of improvement to make. I’ve spent the last three years splitting my time between law school and poker. In the past little while, I’ve actually been working on my other games, like mixed games. Because, I felt like that was something that was lacking in my repertoire. So, I’m really happy of this accomplishment – to show what I’ve achieved in terms of making those strides. But obviously, my No-Limit game, my PLO game, all over it can always improve and I’m just looking forward to putting in more hours and getting even better.
Question: You really just dominated at the final table here. So many women have gotten close this year. Did that strengthen your result to just slam the door shut at the final table?
Selbst: I don’t know. In the beginning it was just getting pretty fortunate to win a bunch of big pots and scoop a couple big ones in Stud-Eight. Then, once I got the big stack and the other stacks were shorter – in Limit Hold’em and in the blind games, I could open up a little bit more. Like in No-Limit, Limit, PLO, stuff like that -- because they obviously had to play worried about the pay jumps. Honestly, in the beginning it was just about playing my cards and after that I just ran so good that once I had the chips, it was kind of easy.
Question: You also became the sixth woman to win multiple bracelets in an open buy-in event today. How does it feel to join that class with those other five women?
Selbst: I feel really honored to be part of that group of women and to have won multiple bracelets. Obviously, those are some of the best women to have ever played the game and I’m just really happy to be a part of that group.
Question: Has this summer been a success for you prior to this event?
Selbst: I’ve made a few deep runs. I got fourth place in the first event of the Series and then I cashed the heads-up. I went deep in the last $1,500, but busted in the final three tables. It would have been a success money-wise -- I was going to have a winning WSOP either way. But making a couple deep runs and not getting the bracelet would have been really disappointing. I came into the Series and people were asking me, ‘What are your goals for the Series?’ I said, ‘My goal is to make two final tables and win at least one bracelet.’ And now I’ve accomplished those goals. So, I think it’s been a successful summer.
Question: Those of us who know you and have seen your interviews – you’ve talked about this interest you have aside from this game. Fighting for justice; doing things with your legal background that could help other people. Does the fact that you’re very successful at this make that harder now? Or does it make it easier?
Selbst: It’s made it easier for me, because I’m fortunate that I’ve done well enough in my career that I can take time off when I want to. I don’t feel like I’m pressured to play every single tournament that comes up, because maybe I’m in a tight situation. So, that’s really fortunate that I have that time. Also, I have a lot of goals of things to do with my money involving different charity work. So, every time I win a tournament, I just think that’s more money that I can eventually put into that. That makes me very happy.