Vanessa Rousso is a French-American law student at the University of Miami and a professional poker player. She is also known by her Pokerstars online screen name Lady Maverick. Born in White Plains, New York, Rousso has dual citizenships with the United States and France. Rousso is a member of Team PokerStars, and a spokesperson for GoDaddy.com. She has earned money as a professional poker player since 2005. A photo of her appeared in the 2009 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Rousso was her 2001 high school class valedictorian and graduated from Duke University in December 2003. She is the wife of Chad Brown.
As of 2009, Rousso had finished in the money in numerous live poker events and had earned over $2,300,000 in career earnings. She had placed in the money a cumulative total of eleven times in the 2005, 2006, 2008, and 2009 World Series of Poker. In 2007, she earned over $700,000 with a second place finish in the main event of the World Championship of Online Poker. At the age of 26, she ranks among the top five women in poker history in terms of all-time money winnings. In addition, she has become one of the game’s foremost sex symbols. She has been a pro-gambling activist on both the national and state level.
When Rousso began playing poker seriously, she was a minor and too young to play in the casinos. Thus, she began playing online. This continued while she was in college. By the time she got to Miami law school in fall 2004, at age 21, she was able to play live poker at casinos and the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino was within driving distance. She built her first stake at Hard Rock sit and go 10-player tables, where first prize was $250. From there, she was able to save for a $1,500 entry fee in Atlantic City in late 2005, which she parlayed into $17,500. This enabled her to afford entry into the World Poker Tour event at the Bellagio Vegas. She has been televised numerous times on both ESPN and The Travel Channel. She has made several appearances on the Poker After Dark television program.
Her first win in a professional event came on June 13, 2005 in Las Vegas, Nevada during the No-Limit Hold’em Summer Series. At the 2005 World Series of Poker, she placed 45th in a field of 601 in the Event 26, $1,000 Ladies No-Limit Texas hold ‘em event won by Jennifer Tilly two weeks later (on June 26, 2005).
On February 12, 2006, Rousso placed fifth at the final table of the 195-entrant $ 1,500 No Limit Hold’em WSOP Circuit event at Harrah’s Atlantic City. This appearance at the final table established a record at 23 years, 7 days as the youngest female player at the time to reach a World Series of Poker circuit final table.
Rousso joined the professional poker tour in April 2006 and by October was among the top 80 in earnings that year. By 2007, Rousso was a notable poker star. In October 2007, Rousso was part of a contingent of poker industry representatives and leaders of the 800,000-member Poker Players Alliance who flew to Washington, DC to attempt to convince the United States Congress to overturn the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. She spoke in favor of a proposal by Barney Frank to license and regulate online gambling. The alliance also spoke in favor of the Skill Game Protection Act proposed by Robert Wexler to exempt poker, mah-jongg, chess, bridge and other games where contestants compete against each other rather than the “house” from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.
In 2007, she earned $700,782.50, her largest career payday at that time, during the World Championship of Online Poker NL Hold’em Main Event with a second place finish in the 2998-entrant field. At the 2008 World Series of Poker she again had three in the money finishes.
In January 2009 Rousso just missed the televised six-handed WPT final table while playing at the World Poker Tour Season VII Southern Poker Championship, She finished in seventh place and earned $79,117. She was engaged to Chad Brown in 2008, and the couple eloped in early 2009, making them the first married couple to be featured on the same major online poker team. In the head-to-head single-elimination 2009 National Heads-Up Poker Championship tournament, Rousso made it to the finals of the 64-person field before losing to Huck Seed. Along the way to her runner-up finish, she defeated Doyle Brunson, Phil Ivey, Paul Wasicka, Daniel Negreanu and Bertrand Grospellier. Previously, Shannon Elizabeth’s 2007 semi-final appearance had been the best female finish in the annual event. The March 6–8 tournament was broadcast on NBC over six consecutive Sundays from April 12 – May 17, 2009. As of May 2009, her tournament winnings exceed $2,100,000. In May 2009, Rousso won the 79-entrant €25,000 EPT High Roller Championship, which had a first prize of 720,000 Euros. However, at the final table, the three final contestants elected to chop chips at €420,000 and leave €150,000 for the winner. The €570,000 win, which converts to $749,467, represents the highest payday of her career. The win propelled Rousso to sixteenth place on the 2009 earnings list as of May 5.