Poker pro Vanessa Selbst took down January’s 2013 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $25,000 High Roller event to become the highest-earning female poker player of all time in tournament poker, unseating former No. 1 Kathy Liebert with a greater than $1.1 million winnings lead. Her PCA win garnered her $1,424,420 at the event, where she was the lone woman at a final table that included top players such as Shaun Deeb.
Selbst took down the championship title with a final hand against Russian Vladimir Troyanovskiy, who had earlier also made the final table of the PCA $100,000 Super High Roller event. Her winning hand matched her A♥Q♠ to Troyanovskiy’s pair of kings; with both players all in pre-flop, the flop of 2♥2♣8♠ did nothing for Selbst. Fourth street brought a 10♦, leaving Selbst with no hope but to spike a river Ace; an A♣ hit for fifth street, and having her opponent’s stack covered, Selbst was declared the winner. “I’d rather be lucky than good,” Selbst exclaimed, clearly as shocked as anyone by her good fortune with her final card.
The win gave Selbst her second-highest tournament career take; her first being $1.82 million from her 2010 Partouche Poker Tour first-place finish. Troyanovskiy took home $792,180 for his second-place spot.
Selbst first jumped to female poker player prominence in 2006 at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, where she made the final table of the $2,000 No Limit Hold’em event and eliminated former WSOP Main Event champion Carlos Mortenson of Spain. She went on to take eighth in the following year’s WSOP Ladies event, fourth in the 2007 WSOP $5,000 Heads-Up No Limit Hold’em event (beating renowned players like Doyle Brunson, Layne Flack, Paul Wasicka, Shannon Shorr and Amir Vahedi in the process), and winning the Ladies Championship at the 2008 World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic.
The 28-year-old now boasts lifetime tournament wins of more than $7 million in prize money, with fifteen of those coming from WSOP cashes totaling over a million dollars. Other main event finishes were at both the 2010 and 2011 PokerStars North American Poker Tour at the Mohegan Sun. She is a Team PokerStars online pro, playing under the handle V. Selbst.
Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Selbst attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for her freshman year in college, but transferred to and matriculated from Yale University as an undergraduate. She recently completed her law degree from Yale Law School, and plans to eventually practice civil rights law.