PCA 2014: Americas Cup of Poker, the Selbst effect

Vanessa Selbst isn't playing in the Americas Cup of Poker today. She's not a captain, she's not a coach, heck, she might not even know it's happening just paces away from her expanding Main Event chip stack. Nonetheless she's had a major impact on today's proceedings.

Meet Astrid Silvana Periera Fernandez, America Marconi and Florella del Rasario Davila Reo. The trio are something of a first at the Americas Cup in that they're the competition's only female players in history. And for one of them at least, it's all because of that lady Selbst.

"She's the leader of the pack," Periera, the most competent English speaker of the group, says of poker's all-time female money winner. "She's motivated so many women to think 'yes I can', I as a woman can play poker and I can succeed and do a good job."


The Americas Cup's female contingent. From left to right: Marconi, Periera & Florella

Periera, a lawyer who grew up in Boston before returning to Chile three years ago, knows that today's job is to help her country through to the Americas Cup final. Getting here wasn't easy -- she had to beat more than 1,000 Chileans across 68 tournaments to earn the points necessary to play today's event -- but she's definitely making the most of her opportunity and finishing third on her table of six will have gone some way towards completing that job.

The $1,000 she's already won by taking part is $513 bigger than her career-best poker score, and whatever happens over the next 36 hours or so, all this is an experience she'll clearly never forget.

"I'm loving it," she says during a break in Americas Cup action. "I'm taking picture of all the Team PokerStars Pros I can find and I've been sending them back home."

Like many in paradise this week, Periera et al are living the dream and those pictures will make a great addition to her busy blog, where she's sharing the experience with all her friends back home. Those experiences might include the time she met Daniel Negreanu and he told her unimpressed daughter that he's "el numero uno", or maybe the time Team Chile captain, Amos Ben, wrongly advised her to use "cojones" to get through today's tournament.

If her team wins this week's event and pockets $32,500, though, those experiences will almost certainly include a trip to this Sunday's $1,000 buy-in Women's Event.

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Periera laying down the law in today's first round

"It's completely out of my bankroll, but that's what I want to do," says Periera, who goes by the screen name 'Silly2127' on PokerStars. "I'm glad I'm playing today with these guys, they're all wonderful. But playing with the best women in the planet, that'll be a dream come true."

There she might actually get to play against Selbst. Who knows, she might even beat her? You see, for Selbst that's arguably the only downside to cashing every tournament and motivating an entire gender: every once in a while, she might just get busted by the very people her success helped inspire.

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Vanessa Selbst, someone to look up to

Stay tuned to the PokerStars Blog for more from the Americas Cup and don't forget to click through to live updates, features and interviews from the $10,000,000 guaranteed PCA Main Event.

Keir Mackay is a copywriter for PokerStars.