After 12 years as a professional poker player, Vanessa Selbst wrote in her Facebook page on New Year's Eve that in 2018, she will be retiring from the world of poker.
Selbst, age 33, ends her career with almost $12 million in lifetime tournament earnings, which included a total of three World Series of Poker bracelets. She has almost double the tourney earnings as that of Kathy Liebert, the second most successful female tournament player of all time when it comes to total winnings.
Even though she will retire this year, the New York player can still possibly become a Poker Hall of Fame member, in which she will become eligible when she reaches 40 years old, though one of the notable requirements is ‘standing the test of time'.
As to why she came to this decision, she said there's actually "no one specific reason", but noted Black Friday as something that limited her ability to play poker professionally like she once did. She said that for her, poker has become something much tougher. She also wrote, "That was really fun for a period of time in my life, but as my late 20s turned into my early 30s and my priorities changed toward building a stable home and community and starting a family, the constant travel is no longer tenable."
Selbst is just one of the many poker professionals who, since Black Friday, have been unable to play online poker in the United States. She said that even though traveling all over the world to play live tournaments had been enjoyable for some time, her interests have gradually changed.
Apparently, her passion for the game somewhat lost its spark in recent years. Even if she stayed an ambassador for PokerStars since Black Friday in 2011, she said in her Facebook page that poker is now much more difficult for amateurs, "I can't tell amateurs they should come play online and it's beatable for them when I don't feel like it's true."
Over the past couple of years, the game of poker has definitely changed, especially on Texas Hold'em, becoming more like a mathematical game than an instinct-based game, particularly the online setting. With lesser natural sharks at the table these days, even all-time greats like Erik Seidel and Daniel Negreanu have noted that the younger pros of today are much better than when they dominated the game. These days, more information on how to play poker is easily available to inexperienced and recreational players than during the poker boom era, which in turn led to much tougher competition, even in just low-stakes games.
Selbst wrote, "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. 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."
She said she's now working at a hedge fund, "doing trading research and strategy". She described her new stint as "exhausting, exciting, and completely humbling." She did not go deeper about her new job or who her employer was, but divulged she's been working there for around four months now. She revealed she's trying to become like her mother who was an options trader and recreational poker player. She admitted that she has no idea whether working at a hedge fund will work out for her in the end.
Even though she still plans to play poker occasionally, she nevertheless issued an official farewell to the poker community. She wrote, "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. So with that, so long, and thanks for all the fish!"
Selbst ends her pro career as the top female earner in the history of poker, the only woman to ever reach the number one ranking in the world on the Global Poker Index.