There are poker players who play all the big events, and dazzle photographers and fans with their million dollar smiles and their million dollar paychecks to match. There are other players who focus on earning money for charities and do their part in helping change the world for the better. Finally, there are players who do both–this is where we find players like Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Rousso, who earlier this month, won the WPT Ladies Night Invitational in Los Angeles and donated her winnings to the National Center for Research on Women (NCRW).

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Photo courtesy of WPT and Joe Giron

NCRW is a center for research and advocacy on behalf of rights and opportunities for women and girls. Some of their projects and issues include health and reproductive rights, education and reform, and leadership for women and girls. “I’m passionate about women excelling in male dominated arenas, and this charity is devoted to funding research that uncovers the factors that have enabled women to do so, ” Vanessa commented in a recent interview with PokerStars Women.

Her play in the tournament was typically “aggressive from the start,” and got even more so when pocket aces showed up on the second hand of the tournament, putting her in the chip lead. That allowed her to apply pressure on the other players, “putting them to tough decisions time and time again.”

Vanessa followed up the WPT event a few days later by serving as the celebrity host during an event at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas. The event took place during Las Vegas PRIDE week and promoted LGBT rights. “It was a great time, and I’m glad I took part,” she commented.

Another charity that has benefitted from Vanessa’s generosity is Legal Services of Greater Miami. Earlier this year she won $25,000 for the organization, which provides legal aid to those in need. Some of her friends from law school work with the charity, and she mentioned that, most of the time, she chooses charities that “resonate with either me personally or with my close friends.”

She confides that the charities closest to her heart, however, are those devoted to cancer research. She remarked that this is due to “everything that Chad (my ex-husband and close friend) has been through in his fight with cancer.”

Vanessa will be off to Montreal (her part-time residence) soon to play WCOOP and some live events. Then it’s on to London for EPT and Paris for the WSOPE.

Whether she’s playing poker for millions or for her favorite charity, Vanessa utilizes the same drive and determination that has earned her over $3,000,000 in tournament winnings and a lifestyle that many would envy. She is a person who seems to always be on the move, and whether it’s poker or one of her many other challenging pursuits, like game theory or bungee jumping, you will always find her in the center of the action.

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Through her devotion to charities like those mentioned above, Vanessa manages to give as well as she gets, and for that, we’re all the better.

For more on Vanessa, see her Team PokerStars profile on the PokerStars Women website. And for details on WCOOP, where you’re likely to see Vanessa scoring another big cash, like her second-place finish in 2007 for over $700,000, see the WCOOP home page.

And for the women of PokerStars, don’t forget about the Woman of the Series race in this year’s WCOOP, where there is a $3,500 PCA Women’s Event prize package ready for the winner.


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