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Poker Legends: Vanessa Rousso

“Game theory is when you take complex scenarios and reduce them to mathematics using variables to represent elements, such as, in the case of poker, human tendencies like the tendency of a particular player to bluff.”


With over $3.5 million in live earnings, Vanessa Rousso has, without a doubt, put her education to good use and become one of the biggest crushers in Vegas. After graduating from Duke University in a record-smashing two and a half years with majors in game theory and political science, Rousso went on to law school and graduated magna cum laude while simultaneously building up an enormous poker bankroll.


A self-described life-long learner, Rousso excels at anything that she puts her mind to—whether that’s racking up chips on the felt, crushing the competition in the 2015 season of the reality TV show Big Brother, or rocking the club with an epic DJ set.


Music for the Soul

When she’s not building up her bankroll at the poker table, Rousso devotes much of her time to her other main passion: creating boppin’ electronic dance music. Since music always helped her not tilt at the poker table, she decided to get into the game by starting with an online program in music theory at UC Berkeley.

Photo: WPT


After realizing she had talent, she built up her skills by composing over 200 songs. With a desire to share her passion, she started learning how to DJ so she could perform in front of people. What started with solo sessions in her bedroom grew into parties of 300-400 people. Eventually, she was playing gigs in nightclubs. “It was way scarier than anything I had to do in poker,” she explained.


For her, music is a way to connect with people that she can’t get with poker. There’s nothing more satisfying for her soul than getting the crowd vibing at the club. You can listen to her mini house set or check out the DJ duo called N1TEL1TE that she started with her wife.


Shutting Up Tony G

One of Rousso’s most memorable poker moments comes from The Big Game, where she was dealt aces and played a huge pot against Tony G, a British poker player known for his big mouth. During the hand, he even told her that if she beat him it would shut him up—and she went through with it!


Despite having the best hand in poker, the flop was not kind to her. By the turn, Tony G was holding a full house, and things were looking dire as more chips flowed into the pot. The miracle came on the river with the third ace, giving Rousso a full house that beat Tony G’s full house. Talk about a bad beat!


After all, Vanessa Rousso is more than capable of dropping that hot beat.


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