Share this on contributor Robbie Strazynski caught up with PokerStars Pro Vanessa Selbst at the 2016 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas and talked about a wide variety of topics including why she loves being a PokerStars Pro, her favorite celebrity she’s met, what she is doing with her law degree since passing the NY Bar Exam (congrats!), and so much more! Check it out for yourself!

And be sure to stick with PokerUpdate here and on Twitter @PokerUpdate to get all the updates at the 2016 PCA!

Enjoyed the interview? We did too. Now let’s play some poker!

PokerStars Daniel Negreanu


Transcription Below

Hi everybody. This is Robbie Strazynski for We’re at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (‘PCA’) 2016. This is Vanessa Selbst. How are you doing, Vanessa?

I’m doing very well, thank you. Happy to be here.

Well, it’s our pleasure. Thank you so much for taking the time. All of our fans here at PokerUpdate love what they see on screen, they love your achievements and they want to know what the secret is to Vanessa Selbst’s success at and away from the table. We’ll be focusing a little bit more away from the table. What’s it like to be a PokerStars Pro, to have the privilege that not too many people have?

It’s pretty fun. You get to play poker and represent the biggest and best poker company. I’ve got to do so many cool things with PokerStars, like playing with various celebrities that are into poker, charity events, and various things like that. Of course, the biggest thing is participating in the European Poker Tour (‘EPT’). The events are so varied and awesome. I’ve been coming to the PCA for 10 years on and off – this is probably my eighth PCA – and it’s just so beautiful. There’s so much to do here. We just came from Prague, which is totally different. That’s the cool thing – you get to go to so many different fun cities. The tournaments are the best tournaments on the planet – you bust out of the Main Event and there’s a $5k, there’s a $2k, there’s a $500 turbo, a $5k turbo, Omaha Eight or Better, HORSE, and whatever you want to play.

And cash games also, right?

Cash games also. So that’s the thing, there’s a lot to do off the tables as well.

That’s cool. You said you get to meet some celebrities. Who’s your favorite celebrity that you’ve gotten to meet over the years?

I guess my favorite would have to be Rafa Nadal.

Oh, because you play tennis, right?

Yeah, exactly! I’m big into tennis, and I lived in Spain for a year right after college, which is when I was getting into poker, and they’re huge Rafa fans there. So that was my most surreal experience – the first time I got to play with him. He loves poker too, that’s the thing, that’s what’s so cool about it. So many different people love the game and playing with him was a lot of fun.

That’s very cool. I would love to play with him.

People asked if I played tennis with him, and I’m like: ‘No, thank God.’

I know he’s a southpaw. Are you a leftie also?


Oh, so you’d totally cream him.

Yeah, I’m sure. At least in one point. That would be my goal.

Well, you’ve opened a Twitch channel, right?

Technically speaking, yes.

Technically speaking! So when can we (poker fans) expect to see you a little bit more on Twitch?

Yeah, so that’s the thing, I started a Twitch stream which I’m very excited about. It’s called ‘Tournamentality.’ That’s the name of the show and it’s a little bit different than most Twitch streams. Instead of watching me play online, I basically watch the EPT, or Shark Cage or whatever PokerStars TV content, and you watch along with me. It’s cool because you get to watch the show, and you also get to watch me give commentary on the show. I’m interacting and taking questions about the game, so basically it’s almost like a mix of EPT Live and Twitch Streams. I’ve only done one. I thought I was going to do one here but I don’t know what’s going on because the PCA is always a little bit crazy. Hopefully, if not here, then soon I’m going to be starting that a bit more regularly. I’m really excited about it.

That’s cool. I remember when Kobe Bryant was injured (when he got his Achilles thing) he was live tweeting the game. It’s the kind of thing that’s very similar. It’s not just in basketball where you see all the accomplished players and legends of the game doing commentary, but you get that in poker as well. That’s pretty darn cool. I’d tune in.

Thank you.

So you’ve got at least one subscriber.

That is not the first time I’ve been compared to Kobe Bryant.

Oh really?

No. It is the first time, it totally is. Probably the last too, but I appreciate it.

Will you be playing basketball also, at Jason’s tournament?

No. I don’t have enough Kobe in me.

You have established yourself as one of the top female poker players in the world – most bracelets, most money won, most, most, most. When you look at your career, do you weigh your accomplishments against other women, or against everybody in general?

I mean, I think I mostly just weigh them against myself in a way. I don’t really compete for the GPI points or the Player Of The Year points. I haven’t been playing enough volume to hold myself to try to get #1 spot or something like that. So that aspect isn’t really there for me. For me it’s just about, how consistently am I winning? How consistently am I playing my best game? That’s the only thing I can hold myself accountable for.

That’s a great message. I think everyone here at can identify with that. You don’t have to be the next Vanessa Selbst, you don’t have to be the next Phil Ivey, you just have to be the best Robbie Strazynski, or the best John Smith you can at the table. Just be the best poker player you can be.

Just be better than you were last year, and the year before that.

Exactly! Speaking of last year, you took and you passed the bar exam.

I did.

Congratulations. Vanessa Selbst Esquire.

Not quite. Almost.

Now that you’ve got that under your belt, what can we expect from you in the legal front in 2016?

I don’t know. I won’t be litigating the future of poker. That’s probably something I’ll keep away from. It seems very dicey and complicated, so I’m just going to stay away from that. Right after PCA, I’m going home and I’m going to be doing some work with a friend of mine who is an immigration lawyer. He’s going to give me some research to do to help him out. Hopefully it will actually be helpful, but hopefully it will get my feet wet as it’s been a while since I was in law school. So I’ll get a little practice there, and then hopefully I’ll be taking some cases there, but I don’t know, I’m really just going to wait and see.

Do you have any particular goals to sort of better the world with your law degree in a certain way? I think you had a charity tournament recently to do with the legal stuff, right?

I did have a charity tournament but I wasn’t actively lawyering or anything like that. That was for a legal services organization. It was actually really cool. It was a big charity event and hopefully I can do it every year. That’s awesome, but kind of separate from the legal work itself.

Anything that you do, from pro bono to improve charities and people’s welfare in general, is just very admirable. I see that’s something common amongst all PokerStars Pros. Good for you. That’s ambassadorship, you know? Not just at the table.

Thank you.

We’ll do one more question and then we’ll go a little bit off script. Besides interviews, besides playing poker, what else do you do? We’re on Paradise Island, the Bahamas, what do you do for fun here?

Well, there’s so much to do here for fun. That’s the thing, I can’t bring myself to play poker. Basically, I’ve been playing tennis. I play with Fatima de Melo, and actually we played with Sergio Garcia today.

The golfer?

Yeah, the golfer!

Oh that’s so cool!

That was really fun. He killed us, but it was a lot of fun. I play with her pretty much every EPT, so that’s always good. The Lazy River, or The Rapids I guess, is really fun. The water slides and everything, just sitting by the beach, hanging out with friends – there’s so much to do here.

It’s important to have that balance. Can’t just be laser focused all the time.  

I know. In Prague it was a little easier to bring yourself inside and play poker.

Right, because it’s just so cold!


We are going to throw away the script, and we’re going to get a question from the hat. Vanessa, kindly read any question.

Are these all the same?

That’s such a poker player question.

I don’t know.

Don’t worry, they’re all funny questions.

Which one’s the best one? You pick it.

I’ll pick? Okay, but you’ll read it.

I will, yeah. You answer it, though.


That’s so boring for me, I don’t even know. Star Trek or Star Wars? Star Wars, but only because, whatever.

Would you like a different question.


Okay, this is a great one.

Snack of choice: HoHos or Ding Dongs? I don’t that I’ve ever had a HoHo or a Ding Dong. I don’t know what a DIng Dong is. HoHo sounds more Christmassy to me, and being a fellow Jew you can identify.

Yes, that’s right!

HoHo might be more against my people – my fellow Jews. Ding Dong just sounds funny. I guess I’m going to have to go with Ding Dongs.

You’re gonna go with the Ding Dongs – and you heard it here first at Vanessa, thank you so much for your time. You were really gracious, we appreciate it.


Be sure to tune in to our PokerUpdate YouTube Channel, and be sure to subscribe. Plenty more great content for you here, at the site, and at the PCA 2016.

Robbie Strazynski

Robbie Strazynski is the founder of the poker blog, co-host of the Top Pair Home Game Poker Podcast, and co-creator of the Poker Notes Live mobile app. He has written for numerous gambling publications and has been part of the industry since 2009.