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Vanessa Selbst Announces Retirement From Poker

She Ends Her Professional Career As Top Female Earner In History

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Vanessa Selbst is walking away from the game of poker after 12 years as a professional player, according to a Facebook post shared publicly on New Year’s Eve.

Selbst, 33, ends her career with nearly $12 million in lifetime tournament earnings, including three World Series of Poker bracelets. She has nearly double the tournament earnings as Kathy Liebert, the second-most successful female tournament player of all time in terms of winnings.

Despite the retirement, the New Yorker could still become a member of the Poker Hall of Fame upon becoming eligible when she turns 40 years of age, though one of the requirements is standing “the test of time.”

Selbst said there’s “no one specific reason,” but cited Black Friday as limiting her ability to play poker professionally like she once did. She said the travel required “is no longer tenable.” She also said that poker has become much tougher win at.

“Whether because poker got more competitive or because we got older (or likely some combination of the two), poker recently turned into a real job, requiring hard work and discipline to succeed,” Selbst wrote. “I had never treated the game that way—I always kept a very light poker schedule—I showed up and played for fun and did other projects back home as my ‘real work.’ The shift in the nature of poker and what it requires put me at a crossroads and asked the question of me whether I would rather change my relationship to the game or move on. To me, the opportunity to work hard and learn something totally new and get to keep poker in my arsenal of fun go-to hobbies feels like the right approach.”

Selbst said that she is now working at a hedge fund, “doing trading research and strategy.” She called her new gig “exhausting, exciting, and completely humbling.” She admitted that she doesn’t know if working at a hedge fund will ultimately work out.

Though she still plans to play from time to time, she issued a farewell to the poker community. “I will always love the game and the people in it and I’m so thankful for everyone I’ve met and everything I’ve experienced,” she said. “So with that, so long, and thanks for all the fish!”