Being 25 years old, lots of people wear ripped jeans, listen to music they like and prefer extreme kinds of sports, but very few can boast of more than $1.6 million in career earnings. Vanessa Rousso is 25, but she is the one who can. She is a professional poker player. Her earnings have already placed her in the top 25 all-time for prize money won by women.
Her career goals were different from what she is now. Having graduated from High School at the top of her class, Vanessa went to Duke on a full scholarship. Having graduated in just 2 ½ years with an economic degree, she went to the University of Miami Law School.
During her first year of law school, Rousso began to compete in tournaments. In 2005, she finished seventh in the WSOP Tournament Circuit event at Harrah’s in New Orleans. But the tournament that put Vanessa on the map was the 2006 WPT Five-Star World Poker Classic. Before that she had earned $40,000 as poker player. In the months leading up to the event she started asking friends and her family to buy “shares” in her, as she attempted to get money for the buy-in. As a result ten people decided to invest their money. And Vanessa did not let them down. The investors made their money back ten-fold, as Rousso earned $250,000 with her seventh place finish in a field of more than 500 players. During that event she got her nickname “Lady Maverick”.
That was the time when PokerStars came to Rousso regarding sponsorship. And then the idea of playing poker for living came to her mind.
Being a Law School graduate, Vanessa had already made close to $1 million playing poker. That was the time to turn from a part-time pro into a full-time professional poker player. That was the time of making career decisions. And she chose poker.
She’s been traveling a lot all her life. Being born in New York, she spent the first ten years living in France.
She’s moved more than 20 times. All her life has been and is on the go. E.g., next week she’ll be in Brazil for the inaugural event of the Latin American Poker Tour, and after that she’ll go to Vegas for three-week break before the start of the WSOP.
By the way, Rousso first learned to play poker at the age of 5. When at Duke, she took a class in game theory which helped her interest in the game soar to a whole new level.
Vanessa receives lots of support from her family and her fiancé. She appreciates it.
During the break before her third WSOP she’ll take advantage of the time off and keep her mind and body fresh by limiting the amount of poker she plays.
“I’m playing as well as I ever have,” she says. “Everything is really coming together for me. I know what to expect, now it’s just a matter of executing and getting the right cards. If I do that, I’m expecting big things.”