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Vanessa Rousso: “Big Brother Was Harder Than WSOP”
Vanessa Rousso is a gamer.
It doesn’t matter if she’s playing poker, chess or a reality TV show.
Last summer Rousso had the opportunity to participate in long-running CBS reality show Big Brother.
Rousso, who was playing in the Colossus at the 2016 WSOP today, put on an impressive performance on the nearly four month-long show eventually finishing third, finishing just shy of the money.
Big Brother an "Incredible" Experience
The Big Brother experience still strikes a chord with her nearly a year later.
“It was by far the most grueling thing I’ve ever done,” she said.
“It was psychologically, emotionally and physically the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. Just on every level.”
You might think the marathon reality show would compare well to the long hours of the WSOP but Rousso didn’t necessarily agree.
“The WSOP you go home and go to bed at night,” she said.
“This is 24 hours a day. No contact with your loved ones. You have no support system. It’s challenging on more than just a mental level. I would say Big Brother was even harder than the WSOP.”
Despite the hardship it was an incredible experience for Rousso.
“Being on Big Brother was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity for a game theorist, game lover and professional game player,” she said.
“It was a huge, huge opportunity to play a game that runs 24 hours a day over the course of almost four months and so much fun.”
Poker Gave Rousso an Edge on Reality Opponents
There’s always been a great deal of crossover between reality TV and poker with Jean-Robert Bellande, Garret Adelstein and Anna Khait appearing on Survivor and the team of Maria Ho and Tiffany Michelle on Amazing Race.
Rousso didn’t reveal that she was a professional poker player while appearing on Big Brother but she felt it definitely gave her an advantage.
“I think that any poker player who plays Big Brother has an edge over the other players just because we’re used to thinking strategically in a way that your average person doesn’t,” she explained.
“The average person just isn’t put in those situations quite as often as a poker player.”
Rousso came painfully close to making the money in the show but she sounds like she didn’t lose that much sleep over it.
“I would say if anyone had to bubble the money on Big Brother I was the most prepared for it being a professional poker player for more than a decade,” she said.
“I took it really well. If it had been earlier in my career maybe I would have had a harder time bubbling.
“At this point I understand there is an element of risk in games like poker and Big Brother so as long as you’re happy with how you played and the decisions you made at each junction you can’t base your satisfaction on results. You have to base your satisfaction on decisions. I was very happy with how I played the game.”
Isolation on Big Brother Proved Difficult
There was one aspect of the game, however, that Rousso admitted she wasn’t prepared for.
“It was much harder being separated from loved ones than I thought it would be,” she said.
“I’m a pretty strong girl and I didn’t realize how much a I depend on my support system. Being stripped of that was very difficult. There was no one to lean on except yourself. You are literally all alone.”
“No one is on your side, by definition in that game. That was really, really hard for someone who has a pretty great support system. I realized I had become overly dependent on my support system so that was good for self-growth. I become stronger as a result.”
Despite the challenges Rousso said she’d go back in a heartbeat.
"If I was given the opportunity to do Big Brother or Survivor — even Amazing Race although it’s not so much a strategy game — I would do it," she said.
"It was so much fun and I didn’t win so I’ve gotta go back and redeem myself."