Vanessa Rousso Mixing, Mastering Poker and DJing

Vanessa Rousso
"For now, music is my number one priority."

American poker pro Vanessa Rousso has earned nearly $3.5 million playing live tournaments, snagged a spot on Team PokerStars Pro and even appeared in Sports Illustrated's swimsuit edition.

She also plays ten instruments, composes music and DJs.

PokerListings France's Fred Guillemot caught the rising poker star on a break at EPT London last month to find out how she keeps all those plates spinning.

PokerListings: You seem to be a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, which is really impressive. Music, politics, the environment, sports, chess ...

Vanessa Rousso: I just get bored. I always need new activities, that's just my personality. I've always been like that.

PL: Where does your passion for DJing and music come from?

VR: I started learning to play the violin when I was little, I still play it.

Then, when I was 25 or 26, I discovered the drums and realized that I really liked making music. I decided to follow some of the Berkeley School of Music's programs. It's a very good school, and a lot of their programs are available through distance-learning.

So while I was traveling and playing poker, I did four of those, including music theory, composition, etc.

Now, I've composed about 200 songs and I play about ten instruments. For me, being a DJ is getting a chance to share my music. And to have lots of fun.

PL: Does your nickname “Lady Maverick” come from there?

VR: Well actually, it came up when I started playing on the Internet, because a friend of mine said that I had lots in common with the guy in Maverick. He sells shares to people so he can make it to the world championship of poker, and that's also what I had to do when I started my career.

I sold shares to all my friends at school so I could afford to go to the WPT Championship, and finished 7th for $260,000.

Rousso is touring in Europe this summer.

PL: Was meeting Lisa Pittman, the Las Vegas DJ, an important part of your choice to become a DJ?

VR: Actually, we had a friend in common. I was showing her my music, and she told me I should meet this other friend of hers who was a very famous DJ because she thought we'd get along. Turns out she was right!

PL: Your all-girl duet, Deuces, still exists?

VR: Yes, of course. We've both been super busy, but we work on it whenever we have some free time and we'll actually be touring in Europe this summer. We're going to Barcelona, Paris, etc.

PL: For those of us who may not know much about it, can you explain a bit what's the life of a DJ? What qualities do you need?

VR: I think you have to know music well, because you have to take into account on one hand the bpm, and on the other hand, the key of the music. You can't mix any two tunes together, they have to be in the same key.

That's why I think it's important to know music theory. And then you also have to know the people, instinctively know what they like and want.

PL: What qualities can be useful both in poker and in DJing?

VR: I think that DJs need to be able to read people too. Again, you need to know what they want so you can pace the party properly, know when to calm things down.

Vanessa Rousso
"I used to only play classical music when I was young, but I'm beyond that now."

It's also very important to be able to control your emotions and have stamina.

PL: You were the DJ at the PCA party last year. Would you like to do it again?

VR: Yeah, I'd love to. It was really fun and I felt really proud – all my friends were there and told me they enjoyed it.

PL: So, you're a good violinist also?

VR: Yes, I used to only play classical music when I was young, but I'm beyond that now. Now I play, I compose, I produce.

PL: I can't help but compare you to another violinist, Lindsey Stirling. She mixes her violin in electronic music.

VR: Ah, yes. I like mixing my violin into my songs too, I've done it on some songs that I haven't put on the Internet yet.

I really like what Lindsey Stirling does. I think it's super interesting.

PL: Who are your musical influences?

VR: Moby, French house, AVICII, and a lot of others. But I'd say they're the main ones.

PL: Can you give us your top 5 songs?

VR: Buffalo Springfield – For What It's Worth

AVICII - Levels

Moby – Porcelain

Ulrich Schnauss – Paracetamol

Massive Attack – Teardrop

PL: You've also done some modeling. Is fashion important to you?

VR: Yes, I love fashion, but I hate shopping. To me, they're two very different things. I love being stylish, I love to have my own style, but shopping is just boring. It takes so much time.

PL: Fashion, poker, DJing... Is it hard to reconcile the three?

VR: No, it's ok. I have a lot of projects in all three, but it all takes time. But over time, I'm hoping I can do it all.

For now, music is my number one priority, but I don't have a lot of free time.

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