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Jan 04, 2018

Vanessa Selbst Retires from Poker – Cites Traveling & Increased Competition

By RTR Dennis

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Vanessa Selbst is widely regarded as the best female poker player of all time. But the 33-year-old poker pro has decided to retire from the game at a young age. Selbst will also give up her sponsorship deal with PokerStars, which she's been representing for nearly a decade.

Selbst explained her reasons for the leaving the game in a Facebook post, sounding grateful for what poker has given her. But she also listed a number of factors that made her step away from the game that she's enjoyed for the past 12 years.

Let's discuss her different reasons for quitting and reflect on Selbst's highly successful poker career.

Travel Schedule was Getting Tiresome

Selbst mentioned that "there's no one specific reason" why she's retiring from poker. But she did discuss how her travel schedule is the top thing that convinced her to quit the game.

"The most obvious reason is that Black Friday has meant that in order to do this job professionally, you either had to move out of the country or travel 90% of the time," she wrote.

"That was really fun for a period of time in my life, but as my late 20s turned into my early 30s and my priorities changed toward building a stable home and community and starting a family, the constant travel is no longer tenable."

Selbst isn't Interested in Promoting Poker Any Longer

Another factor that pushed Selbst towards retirement is her role as a poker ambassador for PokerStars. Selbst said that she doesn't feel confident in telling amateurs that they should play online poker, because it's harder to beat these days.

Poker is Tougher

The 3-time WSOP champion is also worried about herself when it comes to poker’s increasing skill level. She believes poker has become so difficult that it's more akin to a "real job" than a fun game.

"Lastly, whether because poker got more competitive or because we got older (or likely some combination of the two), poker recently turned into a real job, requiring hard work and discipline to succeed," she explained.

"I had never treated the game that way–I always kept a very light poker schedule–I showed up and played for fun and did other projects back home as my “real work."

Selbst went on to write the shift in poker’s nature has led her to a crossroads, whereby she needed to dedicate more time to the game or find another pursuit. She chose the latter, noting that she'll still keep poker among her top hobbies.

What will Selbst Do Next?

Now that she's officially moving on from poker, Selbst will collaborate on a hedge fund. She's been researching the subject for four months and is working with others to find success. Selbst also notes that the "environment feels a lot like poker did back in the day," which is exciting to her.

While the hedge fund business isn't easy, she's fully immersed in the process and enjoying every minute of it. She can also ask advice of her mother, who's an options trader turned lawyer.

Selbst was previously working part-time at a police misconduct plaintiffs' law firm. This went along with the law degree that she received from Yale. While she initially enjoyed working at the law firm, it didn't suit her in the end.

Selbst ended her Facebook post by reiterating that she won't be quitting poker completely, because she still enjoys the game quite a bit.

"It’s pretty difficult to find the next thing when your first career was so much damned fun! Anyway, whatever happens with my next career, I know that I’ll never truly stop playing poker (just ask Fedor Holz what happens when you retire)," she wrote.

"Seriously though, I will always love the game and the people in it and I’m so thankful for everyone I’ve met and everything I’ve experienced. So with that, so long, and thanks for all the fish!

A Look Back on Vanessa Selbst's Poker Career

Vanessa Selbst retires while holding a very prestigious place in the poker world. She has $11,851,384 in career tournament winnings, which is over $4.7 million more than any other woman in poker history.

She has also won 3 WSOP gold bracelets, including the 2014 WSOP $10k Mixed Max event ($871,148). And she’s the first woman to win three open WSOP events.

But Selbst commonly said that she didn’t want to just be known as a great female poker player. Instead, she wanted to be recognized as one of the world’s best poker tournament players, period.

Many would say that she achieved this goal, thanks to multiple prestigious tournament titles and a track record of consistent success. It’s very likely that Selbst will take her successful mindset and do well in the trading world too.