There is no waiting. Patience is for people with no game or no chips. If Vanessa Selbst is the least bit healthy, she doesn’t need patience. She only needs her vast and deadly arsenal of intelligence, experience, and courage. This is the Vanessa Selbst we have watched for the past week at the WSOP. Ruthless, she advanced through the field and left only scorched felt in her wake.

As Day 5 drew to a close, she couldn’t win a pot. She ended up in bad spots. By the time the bagging and tagging happened, she was down to les than 1.5 million. She went to bed knowing she had but one 50mm shell to fire. It had to be a kill shot.

And so, when she sat down today, she took aim and fired with ace-jack. The result was crippling. She hit pocket fours, and the pocket fours hit back, flopping a set, and reducing Selbst’s stack to rubble. She was left with 400,000–ten big blinds.


This is how Vanessa Selbst recovers.

The woman we know to be in lots of pots sits back at the feature table. She settles in with a previously unseen reserve of patience. She once had one bullet. Now she is in the middle of hand-to-hand combat. If boxing is the sweet science, Selbst’s short-stack game is measured magic. It’s measured in pure patience and jaw-clenching grit. It’s magic in a way none of us will ever understand. As a dealer tries to push in to the feature table, Selbst holds up a hand.

“Can he deal one more hand?” Selbst asks floor man Robbie Thompson. Shaun Harris is many players’ favorite dealer, and Selbst doesn’t want to lose him.

“He said he was going to deal me a big hand in the big blind,” she explains.

“Oh, I didn’t realize you guys had a verbal agreement,” Thompson quips. “I’d never interfere.”

The problem is, Harris can’t deliver this time, and Thompson calls for the next dealer to push in. It’s up to Selbst to sit back and wait for more magic. She passes the time offering tips on stylish ways to muck. Three times over the next hour, everybody folds to her, and she shoves all-in. The first two times, she picks up the blinds and antes, a drowner’s brief gasp above the water.

The third, time, however, her punch connects…but in all the wrong ways. She’s in with J♥9♠ and lands directly on A♦7♦. It’s not the worst situation she could’ve found, but it’s not ideal.

This is when Selbst’s measured magic kicks in, and by the turn, she’s got a straight, and her man with the A♦7♦ is drawing dead.

So, now, as the players take their first break of the day, Selbst is back up over a million chips. It’s still sort compared to most of the other 79 players still alive, but, as we all know, Selbst isn’t like the other 79 players. She may be rehabbing right now, but if everything works right, she could just as easily be chip leader by the time we go to sleep.


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