133 Seconds with Vanessa Rousso

133 Seconds with Vanessa Rousso

Monday, 21 July 2014

Bluffs, jokes, heroes...

What's the strangest thing you've ever seen at the poker table?

The strangest thing I've ever seen at the poker table was probably myself dressed as a cockroach after I lost a bet to Liv [Boeree]. It was four of us girls: me, Vanessa [Selbst], Liv and Maria Ho. We went to a shooting range in Las Vegas and the winner got to choose the loser's costume for the next poker tournament we all went to. Liv was the winner, and I ended up as a cockroach! I'm sure people just thought I was a complete joke. I actually ran really bad, so it was definitely an unlucky outfit for me. I won't be wearing that again.

What's your most treasured possession?

My 1970s Moog synthesiser. It's an instrument. I like to collect old synthesisers, and this is an original. It looks like a giant machine from like the Addams family movie or something.

What's the most extravagant thing you've ever bought with your poker winnings?

My home in Las Vegas is pretty extravagant. It has full basketball, volleyball and tennis courts, and a big pool, jacuzzi and grill. I even have a pool table made out of 1967 Mustang. My cars are pretty extravagant too. I have a Lamborghini Gallardo. I currently own a Bentley Continental GT and a 1957 Thunderbird Convertible. So I've had my share of the ostentatious!

Being a poker player, you have to have a very cavalier relationship with money. You have to respect it because you have to want to win it, but on the other hand you can't allow yourself to care THAT much about it, or it'll change the way you play. So it's fun to have all these toys, but at the end of the day they don't mean anything to me. I fully know that they're not the most important things in life, but that doesn't mean that they're not fun!

Who's your poker hero?

From day one I've had a really special relationship with Doyle Brunson. He once saw me at a poker table and said, 'This Vanessa Rousso girl, she's going somewhere in poker!' He took me under his wing, and whenever I had issues I would call him and he would give me advice. Not about poker itself, but about being a poker player and the lifestyle. He's a really nice man and I have a lot of respect for him.

Non-poker hero?

I'm a big Oprah fan. I think she's done a lot in her career, and being a woman in a male-dominated industry like poker makes you look up to other strong women. She's also done a lot of beneficial things for the world in addition to just being a successful person.

Can you tell me a joke?

Oh my gosh, you don't know how bad a joke-teller I am. The biggest joke is me trying to tell a joke. I'm a smart girl, but for some reason I never get jokes. People always need to explain them to me. My brain just doesn't work that way. I'm more of a riddle person – I LOVE riddles. My favourite riddle is this. You're dropped in a room with no perceivable way out. You have no tools to use or anything – it's just you in a white room. There are three switches on the wall, and you're told that one of these switches operates a lamp in a room that you'll be teleported to in ten minutes. How do you find out which of the three switches operates that lamp?*

What's the biggest bluff you've made in life away from the tables?

If I told you that, I wouldn't be getting away with it any more!

*Answer: If there were two switches, you can switch one on and then wait to get transported. If it's on when you teleport then it's the right switch, if it's off then it's the other one. With three switches, you can turn one on then wait for ten minutes, then turn it off and flip another switch. When you teleport, if the lamp's on then it's the second switch you turned on. If it's off but warm, then it was the first switch you tried and left on for 10 minutes. If it's off but cold, then it's the third one you didn't try.

Tags: Vanessa Rousso, 133 seconds, interview