Name: Vanessa RoussoWinnings to Date: $3,450,311
Vanessa Rousso started out as a full time student. She graduated from Duke University cum laude after only two and a half years, earning a B.A. in economics. After, she moved to Florida to attend the University of Miami’s School of Law as a recipient of the Chaplin Scholarship. While devoting herself to charity work, she made the dean’s list and played some poker.
Growing up in Paris, France, Rousso learned to play poker at the age of five. By nine she was living in the United States and throughout her grade school years she enjoyed playing sports, being the class president, and competing with the debate team.
While at Duke, Rousso researched game theory, which quickly fueled her interest in poker. She started by dabbling in backgammon and chess, but enjoyed poker more due to the human element of the game. Before applying to law school, she started to play poker online. After moving to Miami, she started to play in brick-and-mortar casinos as well as in her dorm room.
Rousso later played regularly at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino nearby in Hollywood, Florida where she built an impressive bankroll and gained tournament experience by playing No-Limit Hold’em in $65 single-table sit-and-gos. In May of 2005, she traveled to New Orleans for the Harrah’s Poker Challenge WSOP Circuit event. Rousso played in the $200 No-Limit Hold’em tournament and made it to the final table before being eliminated. She took home $6,465 from her first major tournament and made history as the youngest woman ever to make it to the final table in a WSOP Circuit event. She followed that success with a first place finish at the Palms Summer Series’ $300 No-Limit Hold’em tournament, where she won $2,330.
That same year, Rousso had a 45th finish at the Ladies’ Event in the 2005 WSOP and then went on hiatus until February of 2006, where she made it to the final table again of a WSOP Circuit event, finishing 5th out of 195 in the $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em event at Harrah’s Atlantic City.
That April, Rousso made it out to Vegas and, albeit three hours late, joined the $25,000 main event of the WPT Five Star World Poker Classic. She won her first round and people started talking. She got 7th place, along with $263,625, and the reputation of being a rising star.
Rousso signed a sponsorship deal with Poker Stars and represented them online and at the WPT Grand Prix de Paris during the 2006 WSOP where she took home almost $70,000 in tournament earnings. She also appeared on the poker reality show “Wild Card Poker,” as well as contributed strategies to various poker publications. She later gained the nickname Lady Maverick due to her poker name online and her fun, crazy personality.
Rousso’s biggest win to date, $285,450, was for her first place finish in the $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em event at the Bogata Poker Open in September of 2006.