For more than a decade, Vanessa Selbst was not only considered the best woman poker player in the world but one of the best players all together on the high roller scene. Selbst was known for her outlandish aggression that often saw her win huge pots, and lose some big ones on the way. Let’s dive a bit more into the former Pokerstars pro’s life.

4.6
PokerStars starting out holding online poker games back in 2001 and now the company is worth over 6 billion dollars. They sponsor a slew of tournaments like the European Poker Tour, UK and Ireland Poker Tour, plus a handful of others. Over the years, PokerStars has remained on top of the online poker industry. They’ve expanded to offer fantastic online casino games and sports betting.

Selbst was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1984. She attended two prestigious colleges, first MIT for a year before she transferred to Yale University to get a degree in Political Science. She later returned to Yale Law School and graduated in 2012. She was already playing poker by then, earning a name for herself with some hyper-aggressive play that earned her some huge poker titles.

Selbst’s very first tournament victory actually came in 2008 at a Women’s Event at the LA Poker Classic, though she has already posted an impressive result the year before when she lost in the semi-finals of the highly respect WSOP Heads Up Event.

Selbst has won three WSOP bracelets and made eight final tables there. Her first bracelet was won that same year, and her biggest win by far came in the $25,000 Mixed Max Event.

YearEventMoney Earned
2008$1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha$227,933
2012$2,500 10-Game Six Handed$244,259
2014$25,000 Mixed-Max No-Limit Hold'em$871,148
Selbst after her third and biggest WSOP bracelet win

While not as prestigious of a title as a WSOP bracelet, perhaps Selbst’s most impressive poker accomplishment came in 2010 and 2011, when she took down the North American Poker Tour Main Event two years in a row. The first year she earned $750,000, and then went back to back, earning $450,000 this time, adding over $1 million in tournament winnings from those two titles alone.

She has also made two WPT final tables but doesn’t have a WPT title yet, nor does she have an EPT title. Overall, she has more than $11,000,000 in tournament winnings contributing to her net worth over the years.

Her biggest career tournament win came at the now defunct Partouche Poker Tour. She took down the Main Event in September of 2010, earning a whopping $1,823,000.

Selbst’s reputation certainly preceded her at the poker table. She was widely considered one of the most overly aggressive players in the world, and it would often lead to some massive pots with some rather interesting hands. Two specific hands come to mind for many when talking about Selbst and her eccentric play. The first hand was played in the Pokerstars Big Game, where Selbst found a way to get $170,000 in the middle preflop with jack high, against the aces of Prahlad Friedman.

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Another infamous hand involving Selbst took place at the EPT Berlin against fellow pro Kevin Macphee, as the two went back and forth in a massive preflop all-in confrontation. Both players had rather marginal hands at best, and the aftermath of the hand involving a third pro, Liv Boeree, also raised some eyebrows.

There is one more unforgettable hand that involved Selbst and another well-known female pro, Gaelle Baumann, though this hand had little to do with Selbst’s wild play. Instead, it was a brutal cooler that saw Selbst bust in the first level of the 2017 Main Event, which also ended up being the last hand she played at the WSOP for six years.

Selbst on the wrong end of a memorable cooler at the WSOP

Selbst unofficially retired from poker in 2018 at the age of 34 to pursue a corporate career and to start a family with her wife Miranda Foster, who she married in 2013. As of 2022, it was estimated that her net worth was around $6,000,000. After returning from poker, Selbst got a job with Bridgewater Associates hedge fund.

Selbst came out of retirement to play a few bracelet events at the 2023 WSOP, though she wasn’t able to cash in any of them. Her last recorded cash was in 2020 at a WPT Main Event in Canada. Her third WSOP bracelet win mentioned above is also her last tournament victory on record.

She told another media outlet this about her brief return to poker last year: “You can leave poker, but I don’t think poker really ever leaves you. It was all I really thought about for a really long time. And so it would be weird if we didn’t still feel that urge sometimes.”

She continued, “Honestly, I was just looking for an excuse to get back to poker. I’ve been looking for an excuse to get back for a while. I’ve missed it."

It remains to be seen if Selbst will be playing more at the felt, or if she will continue to focus on being at home with her family, as she and her wife welcomed a baby boy back in 2018. Even if she doesn’t play another hand of meaningful poker on the tournament circuit, she has already amassed a massive net worth for any poker player, female or male, and was also inducted into the Women’s Poker Hall of Fame in 2022.