At the age of 29,, Vanessa Selbst had already enjoyed success at the World Series of Poker by winning $1.29 million and two bracelets in seven years. Those wins both came in different disciplines, one in Pot-limit Omaha (PLO) and one in a shorthanded 10-Game Mix tournament. With her bracelet win in Event #2 ($25,000 Mixed-Max No-Limit Hold’em) to start the 2014 WSOP, she added a third discipline to her record and moved into rare historical territory, not just for women in poker, but for poker players in general.
The third bracelet in Selbst’s career tied her with Barbara Enright and Nani Dollison for the most by any woman in WSOP history, but both of those women won two of theirs in the closed-field Ladies Event. All three of Selbst’s wins have come in open-field events, moving her ahead of Jennifer Harman for the most all-time by a woman. And all three, as noted above, were awarded in different disciplines, making her the first woman to achieve that feat.
As of June 6, 2014, Selbst has $2,097,249 in WSOP earnings, ranking her second behind only 2008 WSOP Europe Main Event winner Annette Obrestad ($2,163,541). She currently ranks seventh all-time at the WSOP among women with 19 cashes, including six final-table finishes and two semi-final finishes in the Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em World Championship. And her average WSOP cash has been worth $110,382, better than second-place Jennifer Harman’s average of $46,703 over 30 cashes.
Clearly, Selbst deserves to be known as one of the very best women ever to play in the WSOP. But beyond all those milestones for women at the WSOP, Selbst’s win in Event #2 win set her apart from the poker-playing population as a whole. She became only the 63rd player in the WSOP’s 45-year history to win a third career bracelet. (Brock Parker became the 64th days later.) That might not sound like a lot, but it tied her with old-schoolers like David Sklansky, Dewey Tomko, Jack Keller and Chip Reese. And it matched the career output of respected players like Barry Greenstein, Antonio Esfandiari, Chau Giang, Sam Farha, Matt Matros and Michael Mizrachi.
Of all her cashes, 15.7 percent of them have resulted in bracelet wins. Those ties her for 14th all-time among players with at least three bracelets and 10 cashes, putting Selbst in some pretty rare company:
Amarillo Slim 4 in 11 (36.3%) Ted Forrest 6 in 30 (20.0%)
Johnny Moss 9 in 25 (36.0%) Barbara Enright 3 in 15 (20.0%)
Stu Ungar 5 in 15 (33.3%) Phil Ivey 9 in 52 (17.3%)
Sam Farha 3 in 10 (30.0%) Jay Heimowitz 6 in 38 (15.7%)
Hamid Dastmalchi 3 in 10 (30.0%) Layne Flack 6 in 38 (15.7%)
Doyle Brunson 10 in 36 (27.7%) Vanessa Selbst 3 in 19 (15.7%)
Billy Baxter 7 in 29 (24.1%) Farzad Bonyadi 3 in 19 (15.7%)
Johnny Chan 10 in 45 (22.2%) Eskimo Clark 3 in 20 (15.0%)
Bobby Baldwin 4 in 18 (22.2%) Lyle Berman 3 in 20 (15.0%)
Mike Hart 4 in 18 (22.2%) Daniel Alaei 4 in 28 (14.2%)
Even if her pace slows, she’ll still rank ahead of some legendary players. Selbst’s current pace of three bracelets in 19 cashes ranks her ahead of the career paces of notable players like Chip Reese (3 in 22, 13.6%), Phil Hellmuth (13 in 101, 12.8%), Scotty Nguyen (5 in 44, 11.3%), Antonio Esfandiari (3 in 28, 10.7%), Erik Seidel (8 in 83, 9.6%), and Daniel Negreanu (6 in 70, 8.5%). If she can somehow pick up her pace, she could even challenge Phil Hellmuth and Phil Ivey in the hunt for the most bracelets of all-time, especially now that there are upwards of 70 bracelets, including high-roller events with small fields and big prizes, to be awarded each year for the foreseeable future.
Selbst’s average cash of $110,382 would place in the top 20 all-time among players with 20 cashes—if she had one more on her resume. Among the others with similar averages over their careers are J.C. Tran ($110,839 over 41 cashes), Carlos Mortensen ($112,477 over 27 cashes), Phil Ivey ($117,650 over 52 cashes), Scotty Nguyen ($117,703 over 44 cashes) and Phil Hellmuth ($122,265 over 101 cashes). The one thing that all five of these players have on their resumes that Selbst doesn’t is a final table finish or win in the WSOP’s richest tournament—the Main Event—making her average even more impressive.