1. Jeff sat down to interview Vanessa Rousso live in the Diary Room during the press junket for BB17. Vanessa is 32 years old and lives in Las Vegas. She is a professional poker player and DJ. Right away, Jeff recognizes her from playing poker on TV.
2. Vanessa says she's a fan of Big Brother, and says it is actually a lot like being a tournament poker player. The game progresses by eliminating the other players, and most of the big money is at the top. In poker to be successful she's had to learn to read people, and she thinks this skill will help her in the BB house this summer.
3. She also studied Game Theory at Duke University, and thinks those learnings will also give her an edge in the game. Jeff was impressed. He's heard of Duke. He asked Vanessa if BB will be one big head game for her and she admits it will, but she's going to have to get in there and watch the action first.
4. Vanessa thinks a disadvantage for her would be if anyone recognizes her as a tournament poker player, since she often plays on TV, because she doesn't plan to share that information with anyone right from the start. Instead, she plans to say she is a DJ in Las Vegas, which is true, but she admits that most of her earnings have come from playing poker. If someone recognizes her, then she has a story ready to explain how her career has shifted over time.
She says she's been promoting her DJ work a lot more in the past few years, so she thinks that will help her support her story about changing careers if she gets found out. (But how? Because the only thing more sketchy then telling someone to "watch the tapes" is to tell them to "check my YouTube when you get out". Right?)
5. When asked what she's leaving behind this summer, Vanessa said she never would have believed that she's missing this year's World Series of Poker to be on a reality show. She said that this is the busiest time of the year in her profession, and she will be missing a lot of action at the tables. She said she did get to play in 3 of the 50 WSOP events this year. (Not sure if I got any of that right or not.)
6. I don't follow professional poker, so I might mangle this information, but Jeff asked her if she's "won the bracelet" and she said no.
Jeff: That's not a stone! I'm just asking!
Vanessa: Oh, I know. I'd love to win a bracelet someday.
Jeff: Oh, I know you're killing it at poker!
Vanessa said she's made it to a "couple of final tables", and won an international table and also two World poker events.
(Whew. Hope I got that right.)
7. Vanessa is very elegant with her hand motions, and seems graceful. She touches her hat a few times during the interview and Jeff points out that she's not representing any sponsors on today's hat and she laughs. I think touching the bill of her hat is a reflex for her and may be part of her personality. (Maybe a tell?)
8. If Vanessa wins the money, she will probably invest part of it, and do something for her parents and sisters, too. Then she drops some new info on us:
Vanessa: And I have a girlfriend...I'm sure winning would mean some sort of new jewelry or other big gift for her!
Jeff: Of course!
Vanessa explains that her girlfriend is taking care of everything for her this summer while she's away, and that is a big deal, so she will owe her a lot for that. She's never been more than 4 days without seeing her girlfriend ("Mel"?) and Jeff tells her to remember that her girlfriend can see her, and to remember that she's doing it for her, too.
9. If Vanessa was a zoo animal, she'd be a horse, but she had to check with Jeff to see if horses counted as zoo animals. Jeff didn't know, obviously, but he said her answer could be anything she wants it to be. Vanessa said her poker nickname is Lady Maverick, because mavericks are wild horses that can't be tamed. She likes to "blaze her own path".
10. Vanessa would like to be able to say that she's a robot when it comes to Big Brother, but she knows she's not, and will have emotions and feelings like everybody else. She crosses her fingers as Jeff wishes her well.
a. Anyone who conceals a major part of their identity is taking a huge risk in Big Brother, but she might be better at it than others due to the skills she's learned in her profession (see: Derrick). But there is a poker dealer in the house this summer, too (Da'Vonne) who as of right now is planning to conceal her profession as well.
Will Da'Vonne recognize Vanessa? And if so, will she use that information to help or hurt Vanessa? That's the risk right there. Because anybody with half a brain should know that if Vanessa "forgets" to tell them that she also plays poker and gets found out, she's sure to take a seat on the block. And fast.
b. Yes, Big Brother winners get a nice prize, but Vanessa has already made a lot of what people consider Easy Money, so the motivation to win might not be so strong, after all. Especially if she is a relative newcomer to Big Brother and doesn't know the hardships that she might be in for. (I'm pretty sure Vanessa was recruited, since she indicated she would not have applied due to poker season.)
For example, Wikipedia states that so far she has career earnings of $3,500,000. Plus she has sponsorships and was also part of the "Poker Stars" team until earlier this year. In fact, her Wikipedia page is chock-full of information, such as how she started playing as a minor, and how she eloped with a guy named Chad Brown after meeting him at the final table of a 2006 WSOP final table. They separated in 2012 ---and I guess she's a lesbian now. I also learned that she lived in Paris for 10 years and has dual citizenship.
What am I telling you for...you can read it all yourself here.
And just look at this video.....this is Vanessa's "house" in Las Vegas. I wonder if that is her girlfriend on the far left, with the striped shirt.
Since I'm not that familiar with tournament poker, I enjoyed watching this video of Vanessa "shutting down Tony G". She's sporting a Beastie Boys hat and seems to be doing some good work here, holding her own with that table full of men and is sarcastic as well. You go girl. She went from Zero to Hero somehow. It all moved a little fast for me, but her poker face is frightening, right? Damn girl. And she's a humble winner, too. At least on the outside.
OK. I like Vanessa and think she will make a valuable team mate for someone lucky enough to align with her. She will have good instincts about people, which is one of the most important things for any Big Brother player, and will also know how to keep her mouth shut when it counts.
But it's risky.....I think she will be very recognizable for anyone who follows poker, which will expose her as a liar. And there's that whole Da'Vonne situation. I hope she does well, but I have a feeling she will be able to rejoin the poker tour later this summer, before the BB jury is seated.
I hope I'm wrong, but I'm not ALL IN on Vanessa's chances.