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Yale Law Student, Ready for Poker Tour, Hopes to Juggle Gambling and Law Practice

Posted Aug 2, 2010 10:49 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Yale law student Vanessa Selbst is taking a semester off law school to participate in the European Poker Tour.

Selbst has won about $1.7 million in poker tournaments since 2006 and is a major player on PokerStars.net, the New Haven Register reports. PokerStars has offered Selbst a sponsorship, making her decision to take the time off a little easier, she told the newspaper.

For the last two years, Selbst cut back on her poker schedule so she could give more time to her studies, the story says. “I’ve had two very difficult years,” she told the Register. “Having poker and taking a mental break from law is a welcome change.” This summer she is working for a small civil rights law firm, but in two weeks she’ll be starting the poker tour.

Selbst began playing poker in high school in Brooklyn, then began playing online as a Yale undergrad, the story says. At first, she was happy to make $100 a week, but toward the end of her first year she had some days where her earnings were in the four figures. Now she is earning six figures in some competitions, including a $750,000 April win at a North American Poker Tour event.

Selbst enjoys the law as well as poker, and she hopes to juggle both endeavors. “I want to play poker six or seven months, and for the other months do something in the legal field that’s related to the issues I care about,” she said in the Register interview.

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