Vanessa Selbst is arguably one of the best poker players in the world. She is the only female poker player ever to reach the number one spot on the Global Poker Index

She makes the top 100 of the overall all-time money list with around $11.8 million in career tournament winnings.

At the start of 2018, Vanessa shocked the poker world by announcing her retirement from poker. 


Vanessa was born in New York in 1984. She discovered poker as a teenager and began by playing in home games. Selbst first started playing online while studying political science at Yale University. 

She caught the public eye in the 2006 World Series of Poker. Vanessa took down a $101,285 prize for finishing 7th in the $2,000 No Limit Hold’em event. 

This win was just the beginning for Vanessa.

She would go in to score much bigger over the coming years.

Notable Wins

It took Vanessa just two years after the 2006 cash to secure a WSOP gold bracelet. 

  • She beat out the entire field in the $1,500 PLO event securing a first-place finish of $227,933 along with the much-coveted gold bracelet. 

With such talent and clearly picking up momentum, it’s no surprise that Vanessa next achieved the biggest payout of her career in 2010. She procured a massive 1.3 million euros after taking down the 8,500 NLHE event at the Partouche Poker Tour in Cannes, France. 

She knocked out Raphael Kroll in the final heads=up match, tabling QQ as the winning hand. She also outlasted some notable names on the final table including, Tobias Reinkemeier and Soren Kongsgaard. 

In 2011, Vanessa became the first player ever to defend the North American Poker Tour Main Event title. She first took down the tournament in 2010. 

The payout for first place in 2011 was $450,000 with a field of 387 entrants. 

  • The final table was televised. Vanessa’s skill and talent was front and centre. 

In the final heads-up battle, she eventually knocked out Dan Shak to claim the win. K7o was her winning hand.

With such results, it’s no surprise that Vanessa had reached the top of the list for biggest earnings for female live tournament players by 2013. 

She also became the first female player to win three WSOP gold bracelets.

Online Poker Team Pro

Although Vanessa played online poker earlier in her career, it’s clear that most of her success has been through live play. 

Her screen name on Pokerstars was originally fslexcduck. But she changed to V. Selbst when she signed as a Pokerstars Team Pro.

There are only around 1k hands on that account tracked in a public database. Selbst is down around $40,000 playing PLO. The sample size is so tiny. 

So, the results are no accurate indication of how Vanessa stacks up against the competition. Presumably, we might expect to see a profit if the sample size had been larger.

During her time as a Pokerstars Team Pro, Vanessa made an appearance on several poker shows playing live cash games, including the following –

  • Poker Night in America
  • High Stakes Poker 
  • Pokerstars Big Game

Many fans first learned about Vanessa through watching her hyper-aggressive style in these televised cash games. One hand that will go down in history is the time Vanessa called a 7bet preflop with J7s. 

It was in a hand vs Prahlad Friedman on the Pokerstars Big Game. Friedman showed Aces and went on to win a $340,000 pot after the pair ran the action three times. 

Vanessa was visibly frustrated with her play. But the hand is a testament to her relentless aggression and willingness to get involved with weak holdings. 

Poker Retirement

Vanessa SelbstVanessa shocked the poker world when announcing her retirement from professional play in 2018.

She cited moral reasons along with the pressure of being in the spotlight. 

  • She further explained that constantly being judged and criticised had eventually worn her down. 

Regarding the moral reasons, she explained that she didn’t feel it proper to advertise to amateur players, encouraging them to come and win money.

  • In reality, a massive percentage of those amateur players would lose whatever they invested.

Vanessa also felt that playing professional poker had become a little bit too much like a ‘real job’ for her liking. She didn’t know whether that was just because poker had become tougher or because she had got older. 

Life After Poker

After retiring from poker, Selbst began working with the Bridgewater Associates hedge fund. She has also continued the work with her charitable organisation Venture Justice, set up in 2010. 

The organisation’s aim is to ‘fund projects that fight for racial justice and economic equality, and against police misconduct and government abuse of authority’. 

She is also involved in seeking rights for the LGBT community. 

Another reason for the retirement appears to be that Selbst wanted to focus time on her family life. She married Miranda Foster back in 2013. The couple had a baby boy together in 2018. 

Despite her numerous reasons for retiring, it appears poker is fascinating enough that Vanessa couldn’t stay away for long. 

From tweets in 2021, it’s clear that she is once again active on the online felt.

She is also actively engaged with the LearnWPT training site. It features a mix of poker coaching, including the following – 

  • Tournaments
  • Cash games
  • Live play
  • Online play
  • Mindset coaching

We have not seen the last of Vanessa just yet. It’s indoubtedly a matter of time before we see more poker results trickling in from this talented poker superstar.



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