Solving the puzzle that is Vanessa Rousso

Thumbnail image for ps_news_thn.jpgI knew it might be tough to catch Vanessa Rousso during the holiday break for an interview. Let's face it, it's hard to nail down even my closest friends for a chat during the days shortly before and after Christmas. So getting a Team PokerStars Pro player to take time for an email interview during this time might seem like a stretch. But like a kid sending off her wish list to Santa in the days before Christmas, I sent my list of ten questions to Vanessa, hoping for an answer in time to publish before I left for the PCA.

Lo and behold, shortly after the holiday and sometime before jetting to the Bahamas, Vanessa took time to answer my questions. And they weren't just "yes" or "no" answers. These ten questions might just solve the puzzle of what it takes to be a pro player. The keyword here of course, is "might." Not promising that, you understand, but let's just say that they could at least provide the frame. Or maybe just the box the puzzle comes in . . .

So here goes, pretty much word-for-word, the Q&A with Vanessa Rousso.

Q. During the recent Five Diamond World Championship tournament where you finished third, one thing that stood out to me was the fact that when it was over you were on the phone tweeting your thanks to your fans for their support. How often throughout a tournament do you send messages and do you always follow up like you did on this one?
A. Well it really depends. During the early and middle stages of a tournament I usually tweet an update on each break, that's my normal routine. Of course sometimes I get caught up and miss a break or two. But I don't like to bring my phone out while I am sitting at the table because it distracts me. As far as post-tournament, I definitely like to send messages out because I know that I have so many great fans that are rooting for me out there and I want to let them know how much it means to me and that I am very grateful for their support.

Q. I'm thinking that most people in your situation after a stressful tournament would be in the bar or blowing off steam in some way right after the tournament, not sending messages to fans. But you must have your own celebratory rituals. (Maybe you do close down the bar right after tweeting to fans!) Can you share with us how you celebrate a big cash or win?

A. I'm not the biggest drinker so I don't associate binge drinking with success! After this tournament I was just so exhausted that I went back to the hotel room with friends and family to just relax. A part of me wanted to go grab a few drinks to help me just detach from the event and help me get some sleep, but it didn't happen in this case.


Q. Do you and Chad rail each other throughout the entire tournament, if you're not in? (That can get to be a long time! If so, how do you cope?)

A. Actually not at all. We've talked about this before and neither of us really has the patience or personality that is conducive to railing. We pretty much only rail each other if we've made a big final table or something along those lines. There's also some additional pressure of having your significant other on the sidelines that is unnecessary during the early and middle stages of a tournament.

Q. Does it ever get to be a bit tense when one of you scores big and the other doesn't? How do you handle that situation between two competitive people?

A. Not really, we have achieved a lot in the poker world so when we excel it's all love! Neither of us are the jealous type either, so we are always positive when it comes to each other and poker.

Q. Moving to the travel side of things--can you tell me how many days a year on average you travel?

A. - I've actually been trying to figure this out lately and I am not exactly sure. It also depends how you define travel. If it means the amount of time I'm not in Vegas, then it is definitely over 50%, maybe even up to 70% of the year on the road. But some of that is at my family's house in Florida, or maybe vacation too.

Q. Can you give us a travel tip that you use when you travel that others may not know about? Or is there something about traveling to poker tournaments in particular that they should be aware of?

A. One thing I always pay attention to is the proximity of my hotel room to the tournament area. Also I want to make sure there are some good places to eat nearby my hotel room. If you don't plan properly you may have to commute to the tournament area every day, which can be overwhelming. Also, if your hotel room is close by, you can retreat there on the breaks and the dinner break as well, which can let you rest peacefully outside the hustle of the huge tournament fields, crowds and media.

Q. Favorite health tip to keep in mind while traveling?
A. EmergenC=good, Alcohol=Bad

Q. What is your favorite tournament destination, and why?
A. I really love the PCA because Atlantis is so beautiful and the weather is super nice.

Q. When you are home, and I know that must be seldom, do you have any domestic interests that you enjoy? Cooking for instance? Or something else?
A. I love driving my car and doing all sorts of random stuff actually. For example, a few months ago I went rock-climbing and a three-day hike with my assistant. It was totally awesome but my legs were KILLING me for a week afterwards I could barely walk.

Q. I know that you have a lot of business interests and endorsement commitments. How do you compartmentalize all of that during a tournament? (It seems that having all those thoughts in your head about your boot camp, smiling for pictures, talking to fans, would be very distracting.)
A. The poker table is great because it requires so much mental acuity that I am forced to block out everything else that's going on in my life in order to play my best. With that said, I have an awesome assistant Athena, and Business Manager, Brent who really keep everything in my world in order. If it wasn't for them, I don't know what I would do!
So that's all we can give you today, folks. Vanessa's off to win more money, and I'm off to write about it. So hope to see you at the PCA!

Rebekah Mercer
@PokerStars in PS Women