PokerStars 10th Anniversary review: The Selbst Factor

November 18, 2011


Something happens when Vanessa Selbst sits down at a poker table. Players find themselves immediately on the defensive but also immediately disarmed. Players find themselves simultaneously thinking, “She has air” and “She has the nuts.” Players find themselves, more often than they would like, broke. This is not because she’s a woman. This is not because she’s a Team PokerStars Pro. This is because she is Vanessa Selbst. There is no one quite like her.

The Selbst Factor is one I first witnessed in 2006. Born in 1984, Selbst had not turned 21 years old until that World Series of Poker summer, and so very few people on the live scene knew what to expect from her. Then known as “suckoutqueen” on PokerStars, Selbst stepped into the WSOP arena and almost immediately made a final table. Players began to watch her–heads shaking, hands sometimes trembling–as she made impossible moves and ominous reads. She was not just some young flash in the pan. She was no online spewer. She was the real deal and frightening in any way that mattered to an opponent’s chip stack.


Selbst at the 2006 WSOP

Selbst did not win a bracelet at that year’s WSOP, but it wouldn’t be long before she had gold around her wrist. She made two more final tables in the 2007 WSOP. Finally, in 2008, Selbst won her first bracelet in a $1,500 PLO event.

All the while, Selbst has been completing her Ivy League education and working toward a law degree at Yale University. It was from those studies that she had taken a couple of days off when she showed the poker world she intended to own it. In April of 2010, Selbst won the NAPT Mohegan Sun event for $750,000. It was an achievement that put a bow on the loads of respect she’d already earned. Few people realized she was just getting started. That same year, Selbst joined Team PokerStars Pro and won another €1.3 million on the Partouche Poker Tour.

If anyone thought Selbst was just on some crazy heater that would soon end, Selbst put all of that to rest in April of 2011 when she returned to the NAPT Mohegan Sun and won it again. Yes, again. NAPT Mohegan Sun ran twice with very big fields. Selbst won it twice.


Selbst after winning 2011 NAPT Mohegan Sun event

During her career, Selbst has earned $4.5 million in live tourney winnings to go along with the untold amounts she raked in online.

Those are the numbers that can be tallied. That is the extent to which we can offer any sort of quantitative analysis on the phenomenon that is Vanessa Selbst. There is simply no accounting for the Selbst Factor.

And that’s just how she likes it.

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We are publishing these daily review articles throughout November as PokerStars gears up to celebrate its 10th Anniversary.

Previous reviews:

Milestones to go before we sleep
World Cup of Poker
The Bear Necessities
SCOOP, hold the front page
Slaying the EPT monkey
Pole position
When two cards just won’t do
ElkY, one name says it all
Going live at the PCA
It’s a bling thing
Online wizards cast their spell
The EPT circus
Sporting greats
Making world champions
Party treats


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