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Poker Players’ Other Talents

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Last week I read that Vanessa Rousso is putting out an album, and is apparently one of Las Vegas’ top electronica DJs. This caused me to reflect on the number of top poker players that have found success in other venues. I’m not talking about those players who moved into poker after successful careers in other games like chess (Howard Lederer), backgammon (Dan Harrington, Gus Hanson, Phil Laak, etc.), foosball (2014 WSOP Main Event Winner Billy Pappas), or even Magic the Gathering (Jonathan Little among others). But rather those who have gotten to try their hands at other high profile endeavors after they gained fame in poker.

And crushed it.

David Williams appeared on MasterChef  last year and made it all the way to the finale. He attributed his success to his intense competitive nature and hunger to win. He had an incredibly successful run and topped 38 of his 39 competitors, falling short only when his guinea hen turned out to be slightly under-cooked in the final test. Notably, David also placed second in his first Main Event appearance back in 2004.

Annie Duke was also a runner up when she appeared on Celebrity Apprentice in 2009, falling to Joan Rivers in the final episode. Duke benefited from the strategy skills that she has developed over her long years in poker and her ability to make strong decisions. As we all have seen in our twitter feeds, Annie now makes a living as a Decision Strategist and public speaker.

[bctt tweet=”I’m waiting for Phil Hellmuth to finally make that long-rumored run on DWTS” username=”PokerTraining”]

My personal favorite crossover occurred when Alex Jacob had an epic run on Jeopardy! in 2015. He won seven consecutive days and went on to completely dominate (and win) the Tournament of Champions later that year. Alex’s Jeopardy! strategy was exactly what you would expect from a poker player: he jumped around the board looking for opportunities to hit big wins (Daily Doubles), and frequently went “all in” when he found a category he liked. He also benefited from the incredibly calm and relaxed demeanor of a real poker pro. Let me tell you, it was a joy to watch.

Finally, we circle back to our DJ friend Vanessa Rousso. Vanessa appeared last year on Season 17 of Big Brother.  Like David and Annie, she ran deep, making it to the finale, but did not get to the win. During her eviction interview she attributed her success on the show to the interpersonal skills she had learned as a young poker player. She explained that poker taught her to be humble, but to have confidence in her own decisions, and to never second-guess herself.

Personally, I’m waiting for Phil Hellmuth to finally make that long-rumored appearance on Dancing with the Stars.

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Heather Allen

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