WSOP 2014: Playing through the loss of Chad Brown

Vanessa Rousso came to the World Series of Poker Main Event with an eye on winning it, but she is playing today under a veil of one of her life's biggest losses.

For many years, Rousso was married to the late Team PokerStars Pro Chad Brown. Even after their marriage ended, they remained the closest of friends. Brown died just a few days before the start of the WSOP Main Event, just a few days before Rousso was due here to compete. In the days since, she's spent every waking hour planning her friend's memorial or playing the game Brown loved.

"That's when I do best," Rousso said today before the start of play. "When I don't have time to be sad."

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Vanessa Rousso

Across the room today was fellow Team Pro Victor Ramdin. He sat quietly in his seat, obviously still reeling from the loss of his friend. He marveled at watching Brown in his last, painful days.

"He's got some strong family. Especially his mom," Ramdin said. "Chad was the strongest of all. I can't forget that power, that strength he has."

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Victor Ramdin

Ramdin's day ended early, but Rousso's continues. No matter the outcome for her, both of Brown's friends and dozens more have their eye on a day this weekend.

Rousso and a number of other people who loved Brown have spent the past few days putting together a memorial service for the man they loved. Sunday at 4pm, Brown's friends will gather at Binion's Gambling Hall for a memorial service. Following the service, there will be a charity tournament benefitting the T.J. Martell Foundation. Not only will there be cash prizes, but PokerStars has offered to match all the money raised. What's more, there will be a free PokerStars Caribbean Adventure seat and a trip to an upcoming Montreal poker festival on offer. There are also a PPC Poker Tour trip to Aruba and three 2015 WPT 500 seats up for grabs.

"Chad has a flair for the dramatic. Always has. Loves being the center of attention," Rousso said. "I wanted to do something that--knowing he is smiling down from up above--would make him really proud."

For more information, visit the Chad Brown Memorial Tournament website.


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is the PokerStars Head of Blogging. Photos by Jayne Furman/Poker Photo Archive