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Vanessa Rousso: The Most Accomplished Female Poker Player

Vanessa Rousso, known to the online world as Lady Maverick, has been impressing people at the poker tables for nearly a decade now.

Over the course of her career, she has won over $3.5 million dollars and has been sponsored by one of the best online poker rooms in the business: PokerStars.

Her game of choice seems to be No Limit Hold’em, but she has won tournaments while playing other variations of poker as well.

“I learned very quickly how to survive in the poker world meant being humble. It taught me to be a better person. I do not need other people’s approval to feel good about the decisions I’m making.”– Vanessa Rousso

Developing an Appreciation for Poker Early On

Vanessa Rousso holds a dual citizenship in both France and the United States. Vanessa was born on February 5th, 1983 in White Plains, New York to Marc Rousso and Cynthia Bradley.

When she was only three years old, her family moved back to Paris, to the city where her father grew up. Vanessa has two younger sisters: Tiffany and Leticia.

As a product of a divorce, the girls would move several times during their childhood until they would finally settle in Florida with their mother in 1993. One way Vanessa chose to deal with her parents’ divorce was to play poker for fun; rumor has it she learned how to play when she was only five years old.

Vanessa has always been very ambitious, even from a young age. Over the course of her entire high school career, she was a motivated student. She was very athletic in high school, participating on both her school’s lacrosse and swimming team.

She also was involved in other after-school activities including National Honor’s Society, the Debate Club, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Thanks to all of her hard work and her 4.0 GPA, Vanessa became her school’s Valedictorian. She was easily accepted into Duke University, and was actually able to graduate from there in just five semesters.

She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and a minor in Political Science. The following year she enrolled at the University of Miami’s School of Law and was ready to pursue a career as a lawyer.

During the summer after her first year of law school, Vanessa began competing in nearby poker tournaments.

Although she had been playing for many years, she never realized how talented of a poker player she was up until this point.

She also hadn’t realized how easy it was to make money through winning these big tournaments. Even though she was still at the top 5% of her class, Vanessa chose to drop out of Law School and focus on a career as a professional poker player instead.

Vanessa’s Achievements Throughout Her Career

By 2005, Vanessa had completely packed up everything she owned and moved to Las Vegas. She was ready to start competing against more serious players, so she started entering in any tournament she could qualify for.

She took home first place at Palms No Limit Hold’em Summer Poker Series, and that really became the competition that launched her career.

Vanessa would eventually start entering bigger tournaments such as the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour. She has still yet to place first at an event from either of those competitions, but she did manage to cash out dozens of times and has earned thousands of dollars in the process.

One time she came close to winning the No Limit Hold’em Championship event of the World Poker Tour, falling right behind Antonio Esfandiari and Andrew Robl. She managed to take home over $350,000, which is pretty good for a third-place finish.

Vanessa has competed on NBC’s Poker After Dark almost every season.

It wasn’t until season three of the series that she walked away with the first place prize of $120,000.

She again would soar to the top on season five of the series, beating Clowie Gowen by a long shot for another $120,000 reward.

Although that might seem like a decent amount of money, it’s hardly comparable to her $700,000 win at the European High Roller Championship in Monte Carlo. This is the most Vanessa has ever been able to win at an event. It was partially due to the fact that they were playing her specialty: no limit hold’em.

PokerStars recognized Vanessa’s talents early on and started sponsoring her in 2007. PokerStars is one of the leading online poker sites in the industry, so being a part of their team is something to be proud of.

Throughout this sponsorship, she has been able to meet several very talented poker players including Chris Moneymaker and Daniel Negreanu. Her sponsorship lasted for nearly a decade, ending just recently in 2015 when PokerStars chose not to renew it.

Since then, Vanessa has spent her time competing in Heartland Poker Tour’s No Limit Hold’em main event, where she managed to place eighth and walk away with $16,000. This may be the last event Vanessa has won, but her career is far from over.

With all of the hard work and practice she pours into her poker career, we are so excited to see what her future beholds! Possibly a World Series of Poker bracelet or a World Poker Tour title? Who knows!

Other Poker Related Activities

The United States passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act in 2006, making it illegal for online gambling sites to process any transaction for players within the United States. Vanessa felt passionate about poker and did not believe it was within the government’s authority to pass this law.

Vanessa and the leaders of the Poker Players Alliance made the long journey to Washington in order to persuade Congress into seeing things their way. Although they didn’t succeed in having the law overthrown, many poker players out there appreciate her efforts.

Vanessa Rousso dedicated one summer of her life to running a poker instructional camp in Florida, where people from all over the country travelled to learn how to play poker.

The name of her summer camp was Big Slick Boot Camp and it costs about $400 to attend.

She shared some of her secret strategies with those who joined by comparing playing poker to the novel, Art of War, by Sun Tzu.

In her spare time, Vanessa will occasionally do some modeling in order to make some extra money and because trying new things has always excited her. She once went to a photoshoot in the Bahamas for Sports Illustrated to represent Team PokerStars.

After the issue of that magazine was released, her status skyrocketed and she landed on the Top 20 list of Maxim’s Sexiest Poker Players in the World.

Big Brother: Season 17

For those of you who have never watched or heard of the show Big Brother, let me first provide a background on what the show is all about. Basically, there are a number of house guests that live in a mansion together and are completely cut off from the outside world: yes, this means no television, no cell phones, ect.

They are asked to do certain household tasks throughout the show that reveal their true character, and test their ability to work together. The show starts with about ten contestants and each week one person is voted off the show, based on how the viewers perceive them.

The most appealing part of this show is that the winner of it will receive $500,000. Vanessa Rousso was asked to participate in season 17 of Big Brother, and she had a fun time going through the competition, even though she didn’t win first place.

In an interview after getting evicted from the show, Vanessa shared why she believed she didn’t win,

“I was never going to be America’s favorite. I’m not funny. I’m not entertaining. I’m a strategist; that’s not really fun to watch. I never expected to win it. I’m very aware of what my assets are and what they’re not.”

Personal Life

Vanessa fell for professional poker player, Chad Brown, after they met at a World Poker Tour event. They were both being sponsored by PokerStars at the time, and they became the couple that everyone looked forward to being with.

Everything was seemingly great for them at first and they eventually would get married in 2009. Less than three years later, the lovely couple would file for divorce and be on their separate ways.

Some people speculate that the twenty-year difference between them is what lead to their divorce, while others believe the split may have been a bi-product of the stress that Chad’s cancer had on the relationship.

Despite the divorce, the two remained friends and are determined to still stay in contact with each other. Today, Vanessa is currently engaged to her girlfriend Melissa Ouellet, who proposed to her in September, 2015.

We are unaware if there has been a date set for their wedding or not, but people expect it will be an event worth attending.

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