We’ve all heard of ladies night but it seems like the poker championship playing field of 2010 might be shaping up to be ladies year. For starters, the NBC Heads Up Championship spot was taken home by Annie Duke who may have been inspired by her fellow heroine Vanessa Rousso’s runner-up finish the year before. Early April saw Liv Boeree take it all in the EPT San Remo which featured the largest EPT main-event field in all of the competition’s history; and last but certainly not least, Vanessa Selbst did some serious damage to the competition at the NAPT Mohegan Sun, walking away with $750,000 in prize money. 2010 is definitely seeing the women take the lead early on, and as we approach mid-year one might wonder if the boys will ever be able to catch up.
So what’s the fuel behind all these ladies taking the cake? For Selbst it could be her luck, it could be chance, or it could be the impressive academic background that she brings to the table. Selbst first came on the scene in 2007 when she finished third in the heads-up championship at the World Series of Poker*. Just one year later she picked up her first bracelet in a pot-limit Omaha event and then unexpectedly to most, virtually disappeared from the scene. Holiday to a tropical island? Year off to work on her game? Hardly, Selbst took off to hit the books.
Selbst decided that poker was losing the fun it used to have and she missed the intellectual stimulation of school. Selbst returned to Yale, (where she already held one degree and a subsequent Fulbright scholarship) to pursue a degree in law as a human rights lawyer. If you think about it, this career choice – skilled poker shark turned lawyer – isn’t that strange of a call as some of the qualities lawyers and successful poker players share are surprisingly complementary- analytical style, logical thought process- it makes sense.
Selbst has stated that her removal from the game really gave her the time she needed to take a step back and approach the game with a clean slate. Following her NAPT win Selbst stated that, “When I’m playing tournaments now, I play so few that everything is fresh and seen from an outside perspective; I don’t get caught up in pre-programmed lines and thoughts, and I’m able to look at each situation anew. In some ways I’ve leveled myself, I needed some distance from the game to see it as it is.”
Lawyer gone poker, or poker gone lawyer, either way this leading lady is doing something right and has proven that she’s got what it takes to succeed in both fields. Selbst now plans to take next year off from her studies and return to the tournament circuit before completing her degree the following year. After her degree is finished, Selbst plans to find the perfect medium and division of her time by playing the tournament circuit for about six months and trying her hand at pro bono cases for the rest of the year.
So boys, are you going to sit back and let these ladies walk away with all the prize money in 2010? Only time will tell but one thing is for sure, the horses are out of the blocks and the stallions have some catching up to do. Good luck to all in the rest of the year’s competitions and if anything goes sour we can recommend a really good lawyer.
If you’re interested in pursuing a law degree you’re going to have to look elsewhere, but if it’s a little poker with the added bonus of rakeback you want to try your hand at then look no further.
* World Series of Poker and WSOP are trademarks of Harrah’s License Company, LLC (“Harrah’s”). Harrah’s does not sponsor or endorse, and is not associated or affiliated with RakeTheRake or its partners, products, services promotions or tournaments.