It has been quite a year for Vanessa Rousso. From her stunning performance in the National Heads-Up Poker Championship in March, where she finished second to Huck Seed, to television and magazine gigs, to running her own poker training camp called the Big Slick Boot Camp, Rousso has been at the pinnacle of the poker world. Poker News Daily recently had a chance to catch up with the globe-trotting Rousso and learn about many of the current aspects of her life, both on and off the felt.
Poker News Daily: What does the Big Slick Boot Camp give its participants that other poker training camps don’t provide?
Rousso: What we try to do with the Big Slick Boot Camp is tie in concepts from game theory and Sun Tzu’s book “The Art of War” to offer a way for students to combat the game of poker. I personally believe that we give our seminars a truly unique take on poker strategy.
PND: Do you learn from the camps?
Rousso: I absolutely learn from the students in the camp. I love seeing the light bulbs go off in my students’ minds when they achieve new levels of understanding about poker.
I feel very passionate about teaching also. Teaching helps me remind myself of some of the poker strategy fundamentals from which I stray over time in an attempt to play creatively, you might say!
PND: What type of player would learn the most from instruction in your training camp?
Rousso: The intermediate player would be the best person to take on the Big Slick Boot Camp. These are players who understand the basic concepts like position and blind-stealing, but have yet to explore some more complex ideas, such the concept of “M” as defined by Dan Harrington in his books.
PND: You have also offered private individual training for players both in the Boot Camp and outside of the course. How valuable is the individual instruction that you offer?
Rousso: I am very proud of the fact that each of my students has expressed great satisfaction with their private coaching experience. I know that one-on-one attention is the most efficient way to improve someone else’s game because I am able to tailor a program to fit their individual needs.
PND: Does the private training go into further depth than what you have time for in the Big Slick Boot Camp?
Rousso: Yes, because then I can evaluate and customize a program to fit an individual’s needs. I encourage my students to shadow me while I play online to see how I execute different strategies. With some of my longer-term students, I have gone into very advanced concepts and moves that have helped them become some of the top players in the game today.
PND: How big for you and your poker career was finishing as the runner-up in the National Heads-Up Poker Championship?
Rousso: Monetarily, the $250,000 prize is only my fifth largest to date, but the sense of accomplishment that I gained after beating a lineup of players that included Doyle Brunson, Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Paul Wasicka, and Elky head-to-head has been unequaled.
PND: Do your sponsorships with PokerStars and GoDaddy.com put you as a player at ease for tournaments?
Rousso: Having sponsorship income is a bonus for sure, but it doesn’t mean that I no longer feel pressure to perform well in tournaments. In fact, I probably feel added pressure to meet my sponsors’ expectations!
PND: You’ve been on television quite a bit lately. What did you find exciting about participating in the PokerStars Million Dollar Challenge?
Rousso: It was exciting to be part of a poker “game show.” I liked seeing ordinary people being given the chance at the once-in-a-lifetime experience of playing heads-up with celebrities and top poker pros. Of course, the opportunity to win a huge prize is pretty important, too!
PND: You were rumored to be taking over a hosting gig on High Stakes Poker, which turned out to be false. What did you think of that?
Rousso: I was flattered by that, though!
PND: You have a couple of other poker and non-poker related television shows going on right now, correct?
Rousso: Correct. I am happy with the current hosting gig on my plate with Stars of Poker. I co-host on that program and it airs on the Canal+ network in France. The other program I am going to appear on, Bank of Hollywood, is set to air on December 14th at 10:00pm ET on the E! Network. I am part of a panel of judges that has the power to award money to people so that they can fulfill their dreams. It’s completely non-poker related, but still a special program.
PND: Finally, does having a happy personal life with Chad Brown help your poker game and how much?
Rousso: Part of being a successful poker player is realizing that you can’t perform at your best level on the felt unless you have overall balance in your life. Part of that is having healthy and fulfilling personal relationships. So being a part of a great relationship like the one that Chad and I share certainly helps me perform well at the poker table.