– General Information –
Vanessa Selbst is an American professional poker player. She was born on July 9th, 1984.
She’s the only female player with 3 WSOP gold bracelets. Overall, she has cashed for $11.891 million in live tournaments during her career, more than any other female player in poker history.
She started as an online player, playing under the screen name “fslexcduck”. She first garnered attention from the poker fans in the US when she made the final table in the $2,000 NLHE event at the 2006 WSOP. In 2011, she successfully defended her title in the North American Poker Tour Main Event.
Selbst is one of the few players in high level poker who are openly gay.
– Key Career Dates –
- 2005: She starts playing online poker while studying political science at Yale University.
- 2008: She wins her first WSOP gold bracelet after finishing first in the $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha event for $227,933.
- 2010: She wins the €8,500 NLHE event for €1.3 million at the Partouche Poker Tour in Cannes, France. That is her biggest single live tournament cash to date.
- 2011: She becomes the first player to defend the North American Poker Tour Main Event title.
- 2013: She becomes the biggest live tournament winner of all time among female poker players.
- 2014: She becomes the first female player to win 3 WSOP gold bracelets after finishing first in the $25,000 Mixed-Max No Limit Hold’em for $871,148.
- 2018: She announces her retirement from professional poker. Later that year, she joins the Bridgewater Associates investment management company.
– Vanessa Selbst’s Career –
→ Beginnings ←
Selbst has an exceptional education. She has a degree in political science from Yale University. She then went on to attend Yale Law School where she got her J.D. degree in 2012, after her career in professional poker had taken off.
As for poker, she started playing online during the height of the Moneymaker boom, around 2005. She was still studying political science at college.
After graduating from Yale, she got a job as a management consultant in the New York office of McKinsey & Company. However, she ended up quitting to play cards for a living.
In a 2018 profile piece in the New York Times, she recalled her decision as such:
“I was playing poker for one-third the amount of time and making three times as much money. I was like, ‘O.K., I’ve got to give this a shot.”
In that same article, she also made the claim that at the time, it was easy for her to make around $500,000 a year playing poker.
Selbst’s career at the felt took off like a rocket. By the summer of 2006, she was playing at the final table at a $2,000 World Series of Poker event.
→ Live Tournaments ←
According to the Hendon database, Vanessa Selbst has $11.891 million in live tournament earnings. That is more than of any other female poker player in the game’s history. Selbst accumulated that over the course of 13 years, cashing in 85 different tournaments.
The first score on her sheet is from the 2006 WSOP. By that time, she was a successful online player, so she didn’t have to grind her way up from the small stakes in the live tournament scene. Her first cash from outside the WSOP is actually from two years later. In February 2008, she won a $1,000 WPT Ladies Event for $26,500 at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles.
In April 2010, she took down the $5,000 NLHE Main Event for $750,000 at the North American Poker Tour. The next year, in 2011, the defending champion won the title again, pocketing $450,000 that time. Since only two seasons of that poker tournament series were played, that makes her the only player to ever hold that title. Following the infamous Black Friday in the US, the series transferred into the Latin American Poker Tour.
Selbst made international poker news in January 2013. She won the $25K NLHE High Roller at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure for $1,424,420. With that score, she became the highest live tournament earner among female poker players, overtaking Kathy Liebert who held that position for years.
In June 2015, she won the $100,000 Super High Roller Celebrity Shootout at the Aria for $1 million.
Her biggest single live tournament score comes from September 2010. She finished on top of a 764-player field in the €8,500 NLHE event at the Partouche Poker Tour in Cannes. She got a whopping €1.3 million for that victory.
→ World Series Of Poker ←
Vanessa Selbst has won 3 WSOP gold bracelets so far. She’s the only female player to do so.
She won her first title in 2008, in the $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha event for $227,965. Four years later, in 2012, she won the $2,500 10-Game Mix 6-Handed tournament for $244,259.
In 2014, she did the thing no other female player has done so far: win her 3rd bracelet. She took down the $25,000 No Limit Hold’em Mixed Max, winning no less than $871,148 at that time.
Her other major WSOP cashes include: a 3rd place finish in the $10K Heads-up NLHE championship for $108,288 in 2008; a 4th place in the $1,500 NLHE event for $161,345 in 2012; as well as another 4th place finish in the $5,000 Heads-up NLHE championship for $128,968 in 2007.
Overall, Selbst has cashed in a total of 26 World Series events for a combined $2.175 million.
In the 2017 Main Event, a hand she played went viral on the internet. Her full house was coolered by Gaelle Baumann’s quad 7’s early in the tournament.
→ Live Cash Games ←
Selbst has played cash games on camera on a number of TV shows.
She’s appeared on 4 episodes of Poker Night in America in 2015, airing on CBS Sports. She played $25/$50 No Limit Hold’em on their “Ladies Night” addition.
She has also played on The Game Show Network’s classic poker TV show High Stakes Poker.
A hand she played on the PokerStars Big Game in 2010 is still talked about today. Selbst decided to call a 7-bet (!) all-in pre-flop with J7 suited in a $340K pot.
→ Online Poker ←
As we mentioned earlier, Selbst started off as an online poker player. Her PS screen name originally was “fslexcduck”. However, when she got signed by PokerStars Team PRO she used the simpler “V. Selbst” alias.
On that account, the online high stakes cash game database has 1,172 hands tracked on her. She’s down around $40,000 in that small sample, playing mostly PLO.
Other than that, it’s hard to find any of her online poker results on the internet.
→ Scandals ←
Her “faux” retirement
Selbst announced her retirement from poker on New Years Eve 2017. However, about two weeks later she tweeted about playing tournaments at the Seminole Hard Rock casino on the weekend. Some in the online poker community thought this meant that she was insincere about something that she presented as a major life decision.
However, please note that by “retiring” she probably meant that she’s not counting on poker as her main source of income anymore, thus becoming a “recreational player”. Fedor Holz did something very similar after the 2016 WSOP.
Some criticized Selbst for her new profession of choice as well. She started working for the Bridgewater Associates investment management company, despite describing herself as an “anti-capitalist” multiple times before.
The joking comparisons to Doug Polk
Evidently, this is hardly a “scandal” – this is more of a poker meme.
Because of their similar hair styles, it is a recurring joke on the internet to refer to Selbst as another now retired poker pro, Doug Polk. You’ll come across this in comment sections below videos of Vanessa Selbst playing poker for sure.