It had to be something of a sight to see poker pro Vanessa Rousso sprawled across a World Series of Poker table in the corner of the Rio’s Amazon convention room during our Las Vegas Magazine cover shoot. But anyone who knows the 29-year-old “Lady Maverick” couldn’t have been less surprised.
After all, this was the same Rousso who, just days before our shoot, hosted a raucous housewarming party at her swank Vegas pad with roommates (and fellow poker pros) Maria Ho, Vanessa Selbst and Liv Boeree to celebrate the kickoff of WSOP along with a who’s who of poker pros past and present. A sampling of the action from that night—viewable on CardPlayer.com—proves that Rousso and Co. know how to have a good time, and if she has to hop aboard the very felt that’s propelled her into lifetime earnings in the seven figures, so be it.
The World Series of Poker (“Antes and Action”) is indisputably the game’s biggest stage, and it’s been going strong in Las Vegas for more than 40 years, ever since Binion’s Horseshoe first hosted the event downtown during the Nixon administration.
If you go by its ubiquity on ESPN, you might even be tempted to call it a sport, given how often the cable channel runs coverage of the tournament (and other poker events) throughout the year. Sport or not, WSOP is big ratings and big business. Last year’s prize pool topped $191 million, with Main Event winner Pius Heinz taking home a cool $8.7 million among the tournament’s 75,000 entrants, the third-highest payout in poker history.
This year’s action is no different, with Heinz, Rousso and the rest competing for the coveted WSOP bracelet in 61 separate events. While Heinz already has his bracelet (and the coveted Main Event title), Rousso is still on the hunt for her first. And if she has to climb on a few tables to do it, she just might.