How I Knocked Vanessa Selbst Out

I hate Mondays…Monday blues attack me hard.   That’s usually the day I wish I’d had a certified Monday Blues Instructor, accredited in the “how to’s” of managing your Mondays.  On this particular mundane Monday afternoon around 4pm, however, I was in my regular Monday modus operandi surfing the internet and struck poker idol gold on my Twitter feed.  (in grandiose Shakespeare tongue)  Lo and behold!!  Forsooth, fixed twixt my eyes the tweet that eradicated my Monday Blues!


I immediately had that Who Framed Roger Rabbit/The Mask moment – BOOOINNGG!!


WHAT!!??  HOW??!?!  ARE YOU SERIOUS!!???

Yeah…THAT moment.

It was 4pm in Yonkers, New York and before my animated eyes was an invitation to play against my favorite player, @VanessaSelbst (see my first blog), in the city.  MAYBE…IF I’m lucky enough to be in the same room because the last charity tournament I went to had 300+players.  OK PAUSE, side note:  I had met Vanessa once before when I was a Story Producer on NBC’s The Million Second Quiz.  But it was around 2am, I was brain dead and the brief encounter was anticlimactic enough to just glaze over it here with a coat of mention and spare the details.

This charity tournament was the opportunity to pretend like I was at a TV table of the @WSOP and play with one of the big dogs.  I was so excited about the prospect I did the first thing that comes to mind – I called my wife, Myra, my other half to get her advice.  When she answered, I rattled off the tweet like a metralladora (a machine gun), spoke so fast I had to repeat it – Vanessa Selbst is going to be at a charity tournament…PLAYING…TONIGHT…at 7PM!!!

Me (hastily):  There are only 3 seats left!!  Should I go?!?!

I got my answer from her without any hesitancy in two words:

Myra:  Do it.

Those two words were all I needed to hear…two words affirming my gut.  After 16 years together she knows what to say and how to say it to me. With that definitive, absolute answer and tone she gave me that push I needed to do the outrageous.  And I love her for that.

So at 4:05pm, I snap-paypal’d the $179 for one entry ticket to the NY Writer’s Coalition Charity Poker Tournament.  And at 5:31pm I’m on the Metro North headed to Grand Central.  I make it from Yonkers to One Mile House on Delancey Street in record time.  En route that original thought of doubt revisits my mind, “what are the chances she’s at my table?!”  It’s gotta be at least a 300 person field?!  It’ll NEVER happen!”

Miraculously, I arrive to a very cool, chill bar that has a small back room with only 2 poker tables…and she was sitting at mine.


Yes, 3 to my left!!  Let the drinking begin!

And DID it begin.  My dream scenario was now a reality and the nerves really kicked in.  So I order a beer…and another beer…and another…and I lost count after the 3rd which I spilled, but did I mention it was open bar?!?  I was darn tootin’ if I wasn’t getting my buy-in money’s worth in beers!  And I wasn’t the only one with that strategy because the drinks were flowing all around.  As the alcohol kicked in for everyone at the felt, the conversations with Vanessa turned into a Q&A session.  She was very gracious and answered all the questions that were being whizzed her way.

I got plastered enough to ask her about the hand she lost to Sam Trickett with A-Ko (offsuit) versus his pocket Kings in the $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop.  Her response was something about how Sam had been very aggressive and the game flow…but to be honest she sounded like the teacher from Peanuts, because all I could think of was that if I was her I’d want to punch MYSELF for asking the question about the hand that knocked ME out of a MILLION DOLLAR BUY-IN!!!

We ended up dancing more times than I’d wanted (which was no times).  I’d give you the details of the hands we played against each other, but my drunken stupor blurred those lovely lines just a lil’ bit (although I did jot down what I remembered on the train ride home, so there is something).  I’ve decided to leave the hand studies out this time so as not to completely loose my non-poker players.  IF, however, enquiring minds want to know, please respond below and I’ll write a remix of this blog.

The tournament was fast, 20 minute levels that then went to 15 after the first break, which I made it thru by the way.  Every hand that Vanessa won I took drunkenness to another level by donning my Frat Boy persona and blurting out compliments addressing her by the first initial of her name – good hand, V!   Well, that triggered my Gemini passive aggressive nerd who resides in the recesses of my mind, she was not happy and kind of sort of let me know:  Must I spell it out for you? Double U-Tee-Ef??!!  Now we’re nicknaming the highest earning female in poker!?  I’m just saying…I’m just saying…really?

Had my use of the first nickname been warmly received I’d have kept going, but I think the look I got from Vanessa said, “Now you’re nicknaming the highest earning female in poker?”  Somehow she had read my inner nerd’s mind.

And I had other nicknames at the ready…

Vanz wins the pot! 

Nice bet from The Selbster! 

Vhan-Sel an’ no re-Gretel is ALL IN!

And my fav…

Heads up Van-Solooooooo!!!  May the flop be with you! (I’ve gotta give a collabo credit to Gloria Camacho and Doyle Brunson for that one)

None of them uttered.  Impossibly, after all the beers I had not crossed the threshold of “taking it too far”.  But the beers DID tell her about my blog.  They followed that up immediately with a request for her to read it.  She said she would…(I got nothing else of what she said, I was in serious “FUCK IT” mode).

And then the craziest thing happened – I knocked Vanessa Selbst out of the tournament.  Yes, it crossed my mind that she let me knock her out, but I doubt it, because afterwards I asked her “are you still gonna read my blog?!”

She said, “fuck you,” but with a smile.

I actually ended up placing 2nd that night and winning 2-night stay at Foxwoods (which I used to take my wife away for our 16 year anniversary together).  What a way to spend my Monday.   But before you know it Vanessa had left the building, and it hit me that I forgot to ask her for a picture. UGH!!  I was so upset I knocked her out that it slipped my mind.  At least she said she’d read my 1st blog Poker Confessionals from a Bad Player.

My Frat Boy wanted to shout:  Great sport, Selbsty!!

ABOUT NY Writers Coalition Inc. (NYWC):

NYWC provides free creative writing workshops throughout New York City for people from groups that have been historically deprived of voice in our society. We also publish our workshop participants’ writing and organize public readings of their work. Writing with others in an atmosphere of respect and acceptance, participants discover the value of their own stories, gain confidence and a stronger sense of self and become less isolated from themselves and from society. By creating a community of writers and leaders from diverse backgrounds, we galvanize the voices of the marginalized and create opportunities for all writers to connect with the larger community. NYWC’s goal is to create an inclusive city, one that is aware of the diversity of voices within it and honors the lives of all of its citizens.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s