Selbst Pots the Lot!: Event 19 - The Vanessa Selbst Interview

Vanessa Selbst
Vanessa Selbst wins Event 19, 2008 WSOP

After celebrating her win with a frenzied rail, she chatted to

Well done on your win Vanessa. How did you navigate your way through to the final table?

I obviously ran pretty well to get to the chip lead. I applied pressure where pressure was due, I raised where I might have called in coin-flip situations ... to get other people, who didn't want to coin-flip, to fold.

Have you ever experienced anything like that final-table atmosphere before?

It was awesome, all the fans with beers; the rail was even cheering for the other guy, Jamie, for a while; he was potting blind and stuff. Everyone's been so supportive, it's been really great.

How did you get into poker, and what is your background?

I actually found poker at law school, at Yale, at a home game with a lot of really good players.

I've known I've had the potential to do this for a while, I've been to a final three different times and haven't made it, but it's just another tournament, and I won and it's awesome I've got the bracelet.

This doesn't change the fact that I'm going back to law school - you know this may or may not be my last WSOP; I don't know what I'm doing next year.

I'm just happy to have won one. If it is my last WSOP, it feels so great to have won one.

Probably one of the most crucial hands you had was when you knocked out Tony Phillips on the final-table bubble with K-J-9-8 double-suited against his aces, with a lot of money going in pre-flop. What were your thoughts on this hand?

I reraised pre-flop with a connected double-suited hand, which is more of a cash-game play, but I was playing more a cash-game style, applying pressure to the shorter stacks, because they didn't want to gamble.

The bubble was so tight and no one wanted to be the guy who got knocked out before the final table.

When I got re-repotted by Tony, I know that he's got aces at that point, I thought about it for a while. In a cash game it's a 100% standard call; I get 2-1 immediate pot odds and 3-1 on his shove.

For me it's a call in a cash game; the only question was whether I want to gamble in a tournament with so many chips.

It came down to the fact that if I folded, Tony would have more chips than me. He's a very aggressive, very skilled player who's going to have position on me on the final table, so you know what?

I'm playing for the bracelet, I want to gamble it up here, it gives me a chance to knock out Tony, who will otherwise have more chips than me, have position and be outplaying me the next day on the final.

If I win, I'll be able to cruise through the final table, and even if I don't I'm still going to make the final table; I'll still have $160,000. So I figured, gamble it up, go for the bracelet, and that's what I did.

Jamie Pickering

When you got heads-up against Jamie Pickering, he started playing blind and raising every pot pre-flop also. How did you manage?

I was pretty scared. I had no moves; I called a pot bet and then check-raised all-in.

At that point, I thought it was great, I wasn't 100% at all, but I thought, "You know what? You're gambling, my queens are beating a random hand," which is what he had.

He's a really fun guy, I couldn't imagine that's how I'd win a bracelet!

It's unreal, this is like my fourth final table and I keep getting so close, and it's not just the bracelet, it's the money too, I've never made it past third before. I can't believe it!

As mentioned before, you're actually at Yale training to be a human rights lawyer, can you elaborate a bit more on this?

The fact that I can flip coins for $80,000 shows what advantages I have.

I'm passionate about giving back, and I'm lucky to be in a position where I can work for a salary that isn't huge and still have a tangible life through poker or whatever else.

I think it's important for everyone to do their part, it's important to do other things otherwise you'd just go crazy and gamble all the time. Whatever it is, I think you just have to things to keep your sanity and help the rest of the world.

Thanks for your time.

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So Vanessa Selbst takes down the action-packed first Omaha event of the series, but there are still three more to come, each more tantalizing than the last, with the $1,500 Rebuy, the $5,000 Rebuy and the $10,000 Championship events.

Of course, we'll be covering all three on, so please join us for all the updates from all the events here.

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