Vanessa Rousso: French-American Professional Poker Player

Vanessa Rousso

Vanessa Rousso doesn't need to rely on luck or even her ravishing good looks to win poker because she uses the complex concepts of game theory to surpass her competitors. Rousso's strategy clearly works wonders for her, as she earned more money playing poker in 2007 than any other pro female poker player in the United States.

Rousso has disputed the typical prejudices against blondes by taking down some of the top names in poker time and time again. Currently, she has earned more than $2.5 million in live and online tournament games, making her number 10 on Florida's All Time Money List.

Early Life/ Education

Vanessa Ashley Rousso was born February 5th, 1983 in the quaint city of White Plains, New York. Her father moved the family back to Paris, France so that he could raise his children in the same city where he grew up. She carries dual citizenship for both the United States and France and she is fluent in both English and French as well.

Rousso's parents divorced when she was nine, forcing her to move back to the Unites States with her mother; they stayed in Florida with her grandparents until they could get back on their feet.

You could never deny the sheer intelligence of Rousso, starting from her youth and carrying out throughout her entire adult life. In 2001, Rousso graduated as valedictorian of her high school in Wellington, Florida. She maintained an overall 4.0 GPA over her entire high school career while also participating in the National Honor Society, the French Honor Society, and a plethora of other extra-curricular activities.

Rousso received scholarships from many different colleges, but she ended up attending Duke University which she graduated from in a record-breaking two and a half years. In December, 2003 she earned a Bachelor's Degree in Economics with a minor in Political Science. She then moved on to the Miami School of Law where she proceeded to graduate in the top 5% of her class.

Success in Poker

Rousso started playing poker online during high-school and gradually built up her bankroll until she was old enough to compete in live-tournaments. Her first tournament win was at the No-Limit Hold'em Summer Series in 2005. That same year she entered the World Series of Poker Championship, placing 45th in the $1,000 Ladies No-Limit Texas hold 'em event.

After studying game theory at Duke, Rousso used those concepts to excel at the poker tables. Game theory involves taking the scenarios that could happen in poker and translating them to a mathematic equation, while taking into consideration the many possible variables that could affect the outcome of the game.

Her career really started taking off in February, 2006 when Rousso placed fifth at the $1,500 No Limit Hold'em WSOP Circuit event in Atlantic City. She was the youngest female player at the time to reach a World Series of Poker final table, having just turned twenty-three years old.

Shortly after that victory, Rousso joined the professional poker tour where she cashed in at many of the tournaments, earning over $260,000 in prize money. She even finished seventh place in the $25,000 World Poker Tour No-Limit Hold'em championship event.

Her greatest achievement was when she place second at the 2007 PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker main event, winning over $700,000. She also placed second in the Ultimate Poker challenge No Limit Hold'em championship that year, for another $65,000. A couple years later in 2009, Rousso was almost unstoppable at the NBC National Heads-Up Championship for a runner-up finish and a quarter million dollars.

More recently in the 2011 European Poker Tour, Rousso accomplished four money finishes in various events for over a staggering $425,000. She also landed a first place finish in the No Limit Hold'em Six Max event of the World Poker Tour's Nationals in Johannesburg. Rousso was sponsored by PokerStars until February, 2015; she played for them under the screen-name LadyMaverick. Rousso is currently sponsored by

For more details on Rousso's career highlights, please refer to the table below.

Largest Tournament Pay Outs




Prize Money

May 2009 European Highroller Championship 1st $962,958
December 2010 WPT No-Limit Hold’ em Main Event 3rd $358,964
September 2006 No Limit Hold’ em 1st $285,450
April 2006 WPT World Championship 7th $263,625
March 2009 No Limit Hold’ em 2nd $250,000

"I try not to emulate any one person's style. Instead, I chose to be a chameleon. I'll switch it up. If I want to play aggressive, maybe I'll start playing like the Grinder (Mike Mizrachi). Sometimes I want to play like Dan Harrington, sometimes Phil Ivey. I have different modes for different situations." Rouso said in regards to her playing style.

Personal Life

She met her future husband, Chad Brown, at the 2006 World Poker Tour event. They instantly had a connection and within three years, they were married. The couple separated in 2012 and no one is exactly sure what lead to their divorce. Vanessa's only commentary on it was a tweet which said, "Despite great mutual fondness and respect, Chad and I have separated."

Rousso's passion for poker inspired her to become one of the leaders of the Poker Players Alliance who flew to Washington, DC in an attempt to convince the United States Congress to retract the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

Vanessa is also a sports-illustrated model. She was sent to the Bahamas for a photo shoot, wearing only a bikini and a PokerStars hat. Following the release of that photo, Rousso was regarded as one of the sexiest poker players in the world, ranking 18th by Bleacher Report and in the top 20 by Maxim as of 2010.

Rousso has managed to take her celebrity status and turn herself into a brand name, endorsing various clothing lines, accessories, and swimsuits. Not only does she like to endorse athletic apparel, but she also enjoys wearing it, as staying physically fit is especially important to her. Swimming is her favorite physical activity, but she also enjoys running and yoga.
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