Selbst Strikes Again At NAPT Mohegan Sun

This year it looks like the man to beat on the live tournament circuit might actually be a woman. Anyone that followed Vanessa Selbst’s stellar 2010 season knows that she’s a force to be reckoned with on the felt, but today she put herself in a totally new category of pros when she became the first and only NAPT player to win a championship back-to-back. The win put another $450,000 into Selbst’s lifetime earnings tally, pushing her ever closer to the $5 million mark.

Selbst powered to the front of the pack on Day 3 of the NAPT Mohegan Sun and then easily made the final table. It’s not surprising that many believed she would win this Main Event, especially considering she’d won the very same one last year. Why then was it such a big deal when she did just that? Because these days repeat titles just don’t happen. Those kinds of feats belong to old school legends like Johnny Moss and Stu Ungar.

In the old days, the pros were only competing with a few dozen other players (albeit some truly great ones). These days, Main Event fields number in the hundreds to thousands. Granted, the Mohegan Sun is still a somewhat smaller event, attracting only 387 entries as compared to the PCA’s 1560 earlier this year, but it’s still an impressive show of skill for a player to overcome several hundred other pros (not to mention the occasional bad luck) to prevail two years in a row in one of these grueling multi-day tournaments.

That’s not to say that the entire poker community is throwing roses at Selbst’s feet. Let’s not forget that many traditionalists still see poker as a man’s game. CardPlayer writer Michael Bernstein was quick to question Selbst’s superiority, even posting a blog called “Vanessa Selbst Sucks!” A torrent of angry backlash from both Selbst’s fans and her colleagues has caused Bernstein to backtrack a little – even to change the title – but he’s certainly not the only player that’s uncomfortable with getting upstaged by a woman. *And with barely $300,000 in lifetime tournament earnings compared to Selbst’s $4.5 million, Bernstein is most certainly getting upstaged.)

Pushing the gender issue aside, and even conceding that the Mohegan Sun is not one of the year’s largest events, Selbst’s win is still deserving of high praise. After all, both the WPT and the EPT – larger, older tours – offer similarly sized events, and yet in the several years of their existence neither of them have seen a player take back-to-back titles. It’s just not something that’s done anymore, making it likely that Vanessa Selbst will not only be the first NAPT returning champ but quite possibly the last.

Related Entries