The poker world has seen a lot of poker greats come and go. In the early days, it was players like Stu Ungar, Thomas “Amarillo Slim” Preston, and Doyle Brunson, who ruled the tables. Through the years, other players have staked their claims as the best of the best, players like Johnny Chan, Phil Hellmuth, Erik Seidel, Daniel Negreanu, and Phil Ivey.
By the way, women play poker as well. The list of great women pokers players includes Jennifer Harmon and Barbara Enright. Perhaps the greatest female poker player of all time is the incomparable Vanessa Selbst. Let’s take a look at the amazing poker career of the Brooklyn legend.
On July 9, 1984, the greatest female poker player of all time came into the world. She was born in Brooklyn. By the time she got through her high school years, she set her path toward becoming an attorney.
She initially attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) before transferring to Yale where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in political science. After graduation, she spent a year learning in Spain on the prestigious Fulbright scholarship. After returning to the U.S., she went to Yale Law School where she earned her J.D. degree in 2012.
It was during her college and law school years that she discovered her poker prowess. She would spend a lot of her spare time honing her pokers skills in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey card rooms with the occasional trips to Las Vegas. To say her rise within the cash poker-playing community was meteoric would be an understatement.
It is worth noting that she does invest time as an activist in the “Queer-Straight” community.
Her Poker Career
By the time she started playing in major poker tournaments, opponents knew she was a player with which they would have to reckon.
She made her very first appearance in the WSOP in 2006. Amazingly, she made the final table in a $2,000 No-Limit Hold’em event. Proving it was no fluke, she would return in 2007 where she would work her way onto two more final tables. It was in 2008 when she broke through to win her first WSOP “Gold Bracelet,” claiming the title in the $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha. She also claimed third-place money that year in the $10,000 Heads-Up event.
In 2010, she would return to one of her favorite no deposit bonus casinos, the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT. There, she would go on to capture the 2010 North American Poker Tour $5,000 Mohegan Sun Main Event, earning herself a whopping winner’s prize of $750,000. When she returned to the event in 2011 and successfully defended her title, she became the only player in history to win back-to-back NAPT Main Events. First place in 2011 added another $450K to her career earnings.
In 2010, she started playing in international events all over the globe. Not surprisingly, she was also quite successful on the world stage. Her accomplishments outside of the U.S. included cashing in two (2) “Aussie Millions” events and a big victory in the Partouche Poker Tour Main Even. That earned her €1,300,000 ($1.82 million), the largest single prize she would claim in her career.
By now, she was a regular invitee to major events like the “Big One for One Drop” and the Super High Roller Celebrity Shootout, winning the latter event in 2014 when she earned a cool $1,000,000 for the victory.
Her other World Series of Poker Gold Bracelets came in 2012 with a win in the $2,500 10-Game Mix – Six-Handed event ($244,259 prize) and in 2014 with a big win of $871,148 in the $25,000 No Limit Hold’em Mixed Max event. With the last win, she became one of only three (3) women to claim three (3) WSOP Gold Bracelets, joining other poker greats Barbara Enright and Nani Dollison.
It is worth noting that she is the only woman to claim three (3) WSOP “open” events. It’s also worth noting that her highest WSOP “Main Event” finish was 73rd in 2012.
In her quest to conquer other worlds, Selbst decided to retire as a professional poker player in 2018. While pursuing other goals, she has remained active within the high-stakes poker-playing community.
Her professional career only spanned from about 2005 until 2018. During that time, she amassed pro earnings in excess of $11,850,000. That puts her in close proximity to dozens of top U.S. and international poker players who have played a lot more than 14 years.
At the age of 38, it’s very possible that the pro poker community has not heard the last of Brooklyn Gal Vanessa Selbst. MIT, Yale Law School, and WSOP poker champ are all testaments to a woman who is successful with no regard for the path she chooses to follow.