Very few professional poker players have a background as diverse as Vanessa Rousso. In addition to being one of the most successful female poker players ever, she is a bar-certified lawyer, DJ, and music producer. Rousso was well known for her distinctive style at pro poker tables – regularly sporting designer headphones, baseball caps, and sunglasses.
Rousso was born in New York in 1983, but moved to Paris, France, with her family at the age of three. Her father, successful French businessman Armand Rousso, was eager for his family to experience French culture as they grew up. However, this vision did not work out as planned and, by age nine, Rousso’s parents divorced. She returned to America and spent the remainder of her childhood growing up in Florida.
Rousso’s family were extremely competitive and her two older sisters, Tiffany and Leticia, excelled at a range of sports. This competitiveness was a trait which Rousso also inherited. Like her sisters, Rousso took part in many extra-curricular activities including lacrosse, basketball, softball, swimming, debate club, and violin.
Despite her outstanding potential in sports, academia, and music, Rousso enjoyed playing poker from the age of five and discovered online poker when she was in high school. Her passion for poker flourished even more as she studied economics at Duke University in the early 2000s. Rousso developed a particular academic interest in Game Theory, which she put into practice whilst playing online poker.
After she graduated from Duke in 2004, Rousso began her legal training at the University of Miami Law School. During the summer holidays, Rousso entered more competitive online and live poker tournaments, saving up what she earned to enter competitions with higher stakes. By 2005, Rousso started to earn enough money from poker to make a living and she decided to put her law career on hold.
It was a move that paid off. Rousso placed seventh in her first professional tournament and, just a month later, won the Palms No Limit Hold’em Summer Poker Series in July 2005.
Major Tournament Wins
Vanessa Rousso was successful in WSOP events throughout her career, despite not winning a gold bracelet. She cashed in 18 tournaments and reached the final table once in the 2010 Heads Up No-Limit Hold’em, finishing in fifth place. Rousso also made WSOP history in 2006, becoming the youngest female player to reach a WSOP final table at the age of 23 during the No Limit Hold’em WSOP circuit event in Atlantic City.
Rousso also earned plenty of prize money from World Poker Tour events, as she made three final tables and cashed seven times throughout her career. The closest Rousso came to a WPT title was a third-place finish in the 2010 Five Diamond WPT Classic in Las Vegas, where she won over $350,000 – the second largest amount in her career.
In 2009, Rousso won the Monte Carlo European Poker Tour No Limit Hold’em event. She fought off a close final day challenge from experienced American Randy Dorfman to claim her only EPT title and won $700,000 – the largest pot of her career.
Total Poker Winnings
Rousso has won $3,554,328 from live poker since 2005, and she is the seventh highest earner on the Hendon Mob’s Women’s All-Time Money List.
After cashing over $1 million in the 2009 season, when she placed first in three separate events, Rousso rose to 123rd in the All-Time Money List, the highest rank of her career.
Rousso became distant from the game between 2012 and 2018, and she only entered 12 events in the final six years of her career, with little success. She completed her legal training after retiring in 2018 and now works as an attorney in Miami.