In the entirety of her poker career, Vanessa Selbst has been a focal point of the game because of her skills on the felt. One area that she seemed to lack in, however, was the general (read: non-poker) media, even though she was arguably one of the most successful players in the game. In fact, it seems that Selbst has now garnered more attention since “retiring” from the world of poker.
You need look no further than the Friday edition of the New York Times, which had a feature article on Selbst. It wasn’t a discussion of her poker playing, however, that brought the Times’ Steve Friess and Selbst together. Instead, Friess focused on Selbst’s new career on Wall Street.
In the article, Selbst’s move from the world of poker to the world of hedge funds is discussed in depth. Selbst joined Bridgewater Associates, a hedge fund that works in the financial industry, in the fall of 2017 while she was still playing actively on the tournament poker circuit. That time working with Bridgewater Associates turned into a new pursuit for Selbst, who announced her “retirement” from the active tournament poker world in January of this year. Since that time, she has settled into her new surroundings and her duties in hedge fund management.
So how does a decorated poker champion, who also happens to be a Yale law school graduate, get on with a top hedge fund? Friess answers that by speaking to an executive with Bridgewater Associates, Kevin Brennan, who is the head of the investment analytics department where Selbst works. “We hire botanists, we hire political science people, we hire Rhodes scholars, we hire athletes, we hire poker players,” Brennan is quoted by Friess as saying. “We’re looking for people who are really, truly different.”
Apparently so was Selbst. After becoming one of the premiere players in the world of poker – not just FEMALE players, but overall – Selbst was starting to see some of the changes coming in the poker world. In her Facebook post from January where she announced her “retirement” (you’ll see in a moment why we keep using the quote marks), Selbst noted that the game of poker had gotten more “competitive” and turned into a “real job,” rather than the “fun” endeavor it first was for her.
She was also encouraged by a fellow poker professional who aimed her towards Bridgewater. According to Friess, former PokerStars Caribbean Adventure champion Galen Hall suggested that she visit the Bridgewater facilities and see if it was something she would be interested in. Bridgewater’s management of $160 billion in pension funds and other financial implements and the challenge of earning money for their clients was intriguing for Selbst, who admitted that she used many of her poker talents in the financial arena.
The lifestyle change has allowed Selbst to set herself up along with her partner, Miranda, and their upcoming child rather than chase the whims of the cards. It has also allowed Selbst to adjust some personality traits that, while they made her successful in the world of poker and on the felt, they weren’t something that would make her successful in management. Friess notes that Selbst has had to change from her “intimidating and terse” persona at the tables to being more “approachable and collaborative” in the financial world.
Friess also delves into Selbst’s recent foray at the World Series of Poker. Selbst, who attempted a massive bluff on Day 1 of the $10,000 Championship Event, was derided for that move by many in the poker world. Selbst’s caustic reaction to those who questioned her thought process didn’t win her any fans, but it doesn’t sound like Selbst is really concerned about that. Friess quotes Selbst as saying about poker, “It’s a very insular world. It’s fun to come back and play and see people, but it’s also really nice to know I have somewhere else to get back to.”
Whether Selbst is a continued “semi-pro” in the future or not or whether she concentrates on her new life and new career, it is undeniable that she is one of the best that the game of poker has seen. You can visit the New York Times website to read more about Selbst’s “life makeover” here.