Vanessa Selbst discusses the luck that helped her win $1.8 million at PPT

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Posted on Nov 12th 2010  -  Subject: Vanessa Selbst discusses the luck that helped her win $1.8 m

Vanessa Selbst is one of the best poker players in the world, male or female. Regardless of her small volume, she has put up staggering results in her return to tournament poker after her two year hiatus to return to law school.  She recently won the Partouche Poker Tour's main event for $1.8 million.  She came into the final table as the chip leader and played tough and strong the entire time.  But Vanessa also recognizes that there is a lot of luck involved in poker and she detailed on the PokerStarsBlog the particular luck factors that helped her win the PPT.

1. I heard about the tournament at the last minute, and only played it because I was on vacation at the time, and was going to be in nearby Barcelona one day before the tournament anyway.

2. I managed to get a seat during Day 1A, which was the same day all the satellite qualifiers played, and I had many of them at my table.

3. I got KQ vs. a bad player's 8 on a 7-9-2-J-T board, with no flush possible, on Day 1. That pot was one of many to vault me into the chip lead.

4. On Day 3, I got seated at the table with three of the top ten chip stacks. The other very big stack, who had position on me, got repeatedly bad beat by the fish at the table, on whom I had position.

5. On Day 4, I cold 4-bet and then 6-bet all in with A-3s and did not run into a monster hand. The 5-bettor folded.

6. Despite threats of airport closures due to strikes, I made it back to Cannes completely stress-free for the final table.

7. There was a cheating scandal and it turned out that one of the players at the final table had cheated his way to get there. He was one of very few players that I never played with throughout the tournament.

8. At the final table, I had a mediocre seat draw. Fabrice Soulier, a good player, was two to my left with a lot of chips, and Tobias Reinkemeier, also a good player, was on my immediate left. Tobias busted first at the final table. Fabrice got coolered or bad beat repeatedly, and he could never put his stack to use against me. All of a sudden, my seat draw became amazing.

9. Speaking of which, I coolered Fabrice with 8-8 vs K-T on a KT48 board, at the final table.

10. I ran K-K into A-A 5-handed on the button versus the cut-off, when we had a very aggressive dynamic together. Because it was the first hand back from dinner break, I was suspicious of the 4-bet and thought A-A was a strong possibility, so I did not get the money in pre-flop. An ace came on the flop and saved me my stack. Any other time during the final table, I'd have gone broke.

11. Heads-up, I had a very good feeling that Raphael would 5-bet me if I 4-bet his first 3-bet. I knew he did not want to be run over and thought I would try to run him over, and I knew he would try to establish that early. I was NOT planning on 4-bet bluffing his first 3-bet. My luckiest hand might have been picking up Q-Q on the 5th hand of heads-up play, having him randomly decide THAT was the hand to 3-bet K-6o, and then having him 5-bet bluff shove 80BB with it. If I pick up Q-Q even the second time he 3-bets, I think he just folds to my 4-bet. But I got it the first time, and I won the tournament with it.

12. During the two-month break (there was a break before the final table played out), the Euro improved dramatically against the dollar, and I made over $150,000 more than I would have in September.

Vanessa concludes by saying "When I look back on all the luck I had in this and ANY tournament, and just all the ways there are to be lucky or unlucky, it's much easier to stomach the bad beats that come from the cards. The cards are just a small part of the game, which includes every factor present during the entire course of a tournament, whether it's your personal life, your table position, or the weather outside.

So the next time you get aces versus kings all-in preflop and the king comes, just consider it a cooler rather than a bad beat. You could have had the kings where no king came, and you would have lost your money just the same. And think about the different factors playing to your advantage to get you to that point in the first place. It's an interesting perspective if nothing more, but a little humility can go a long way towards giving you the impetus to improve your game.

At the very least, it might make you think twice before telling that next bad beat story. Trust me, the player sitting next to you at the poker table will thank me."


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