It's been a while since poker had been a huge part of American mainstream culture and pop culture. During the glorious online poker boom in the early and mid-2000s, there were no shortage of poker and poker players intertwined with the culture in films, TV shows, and televised poker tournaments on ESPN and the Travel Channel. One of the major drawbacks about Black Friday -- in April of 2011 when online poker was shuttered in America -- poker took a huge step back in mainstream culture.
'Rounders' is a 1998 film by Miramax that was directed by John Dahl and written by David Levien and Brian Koppelman. 'Rounders' had a budget of $12 million and earned $22 million at the box office through word of mouth in late 1998 and early 1999. The film -- featuring Matt Damon, Ed Norton, John Turturro, and John Malkovich -- became a cult classic through video rentals and cable television in ensuing years. By the time the online poker boom had arrived a few years later in the early 2000s, 'Rounders' was one of the films that every poker enthusiast had seen... more than once.
David Levien and Brian Koppelman joined creative forces once again to become the co-showrunners of 'Billions.' The series on Showtime focused on a hedge fund founder Bobby Axelrod (Damien Lewis) in New York City and his nemesis who is a district attorney (Paul Giamatti) from Manhattan that is hellbent on bringing down the billionaire bankster.
'Billions' debuted in 2016 on Showtime. It's also available on Paramount+ streaming service. The current season is its seventh and final season, but Paramount+ ordered several spinoffs from Koppelman and Levien that will appear in the same 'Billions' universe.
The seventh season of 'Billions' is underway. Several notable cameos this season include Hall of Fame basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, wrestling legend Triple H, author Michael Lewis, and poker pro Vanessa Selbst.
The sixth episode of season seven of 'Billions' is titled "The Man in the Olive Drab T-Shirt" and it was directed by Shaz Bennett and written by Eli Attie. Selbst plays herself as a gambling consultant who is tasked with monitoring the gambling behavior of employees of the Michael Prince Capital hedge fund. Selbst keeps a keen eye on the gambling methods and tactics used by employees in craps, black jack, poker, and roulette.
As a poker pro, Selbst is ranked #1 in women's all-time career earnings with just under $12 million according to Hendon Mob. She banked almost more money than second and third place combined. She's ahead of Kathy Liebert in second place, and Kristen Foxen in third place on the ladies' money list who is quickly closing in on Liebert.
Selbst was a former ambassador and sponsored pro at PokerStars. She won over $3 million in Europe including $1.8 million when she shipped the 2010 Partouche Poker Tour Main Event in Cannes, France. She posted seven-figures in winnings in three consecutive years and four times in a six-year span between 2010 and 2015.
Selbst also won two events on the defunct NAPT including the NAPT Mohegan Sun in 2010 and 2011. She also binked a pair of High Rollers at the PCA in the Bahamas in 2013 and 2014.
Selbst won her first WSOP bracelet in 2008 in a $1,500 PLO event. She took down a 10-Game Mixed in 2012 for her second bracelet. She snagged a third bracelet in 2014 in the $25K Mixed-Max NLHE event for a $871K score.
Selbst retired from full-time poker in 2015 to focus on her legal career, which she temporarily put on the back burner when she began to play poker full time. She earned her law degree at Yale, where she also attended as an undergrad.
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