Category Archives: Personalities

Vanessa Selbst


Vanessa Selbst is a professional poker player with a law degree from Yale. Her outstanding results have put her in the top 100 of the overall All Time Money List with career tournament winnings just shy of $12 million. Vanessa was extremely popular on the poker circuit. She was an aggressive player and never hid her emotions. In 2018, Vanessa announced she was retiring. This shocked the professional poker community as she had an impressive track record and was a Poker Stars Team Pro Member with many more good innings ahead of her.

A Worthy Career

Vanessa got introduced to poker during her teen years, and the game mesmerized her, leading to her climb to stardom in the 2006 WSOP, where she made the final table of the $2000 No-Limit Hold’em Tournament, finishing in 7th place and winning $101 285. It was the start of this New Yorkers rise in the poker community, and over the years, she achieved six-figure scores and won her first WSOP bracelet in 2008, where she netted over $250 000.

In 2010 she won the prestigious title in the North American Poker Tour Main Event, banking a prize of $750 000 for her first-place win, and went back to back, winning the same event the following year to the tune of $450 000. Her biggest career win was the Partouche Poker Tour Main Event in September 2010, and she walked away with a whopping $1 8 million. Vanessa went on to win another two WSOP bracelets, one in 2012 and the second in 2014, becoming the only female player with three bracelets from open events.

Where is she Now?

Vanessa walked away from the poker community because she felt it was no longer fun, and the stress of constant scrutiny got to her. Vanessa still plays in the occasional Tournament.

Tommy Hyland

Born in 1956, Thomas Hyland, aka Tommy Hyland, was raised in New Jersey, USA.

Blackjack card counting has made him famous, as has managing the longest-running Blackjack team since it started in 1979.

The Early Years

He spent most of his teenage years in New Jersey, where he developed an interest in gambling.

During his childhood, he used to throw pennies at a wall with his friends, and they would make bets based on which penny landed closest to the wall. At first, the bets were just pennies, but then they became quarters. Tommy then began betting on other things like whether he’d win a cricket match or a golf match.

As he got older, he stopped placing bets himself and started collecting them instead. When he got his calculations wrong and lost $400, he stopped taking bets and focused on getting a scholarship to Wittenberg University in Ohio.

The Beginning of Blackjack Gambling

He played poker with numerous friends in dormitories during his college years until he read “Playing Blackjack as a Business” by Lawrence Revere.

Tommy and his friend practised the methods from the book and then went to casinos to test out their skills. They weren’t very successful until Tommy read another Stanford Wong book about card-counting. The book stated that to be successful, you must work as a team, and that’s exactly what Tommy did. He formed a Blackjack card-counting team.

Occasionally, the teams made millions in one night, while they lost a small fortune at other times.

They then created Blackjack computers, a form of cheating, which led to Tommy and his team being arrested many times when casinos caught them.

Where is he today?

Tommy no longer manages a Blackjack team but can still be found playing Blackjack in casinos today, although at a lower level than before.


Steve O’Dwyer


Steve O’Dwyer is one of the biggest live tournament crushers in the history of Poker. Born on the 6th April 1982 in Colorado Springs, this online poker pro enjoys high buy-in events, and he is in the top 20 on Hendon’s all-time money list. His lifetime tournament earnings exceed $30.4 million, yet he has not won any WSOP gold bracelets to date. However, he does have an EPT title from 2013 and plays under the screen name Mr Tim Caum on PokerStars.

Key Career Dates

Before becoming a professional gambler, Steve O’ Dwyer attended East Carolina University, earning his BSc in Communications. He saw the renowned Chris Moneymaker win at the 2003 WSOP main event during his college years, leaving a lasting impression on O’Dwyer. A few months later, he bought into a private tournament for $5 and instantly fell in love with the game.

In 2004 Steve started playing online, starting with freeroll tournaments on Full Tilt and soon moved across to other sites where he took full advantage of their first deposit bonuses. After graduation, he decided to move to Las Vegas and pursue his dream of playing poker full time. In 2006 O’Dwyer started playing mid-high stake events on Full Tilt and, in 2015, won the $10000 NLHE Super High Roller at the PCA for $1.872 580, which is the single most significant live tournament cash to date. In 2018 he won the $25500 Powerfest Super High Roller event making it his most significant single online tournament cash.

Where is he now?

Steve O’Dwyer is yet to win a WSOP gold bracelet; however, he has cashed in 14 World Series Events totalling $222,570, and in WSOP Europe, he cashed in a total of $453147. This poker pro almost lost everything due to Black Friday, yet as one can see, he is resilient and managed to get things back on track and come out a winner.

Lawrence Revere


Lawrence Revere was a pit boss for 28 years as well as an author and professional Blackjack player. Born Griffith K Owens on November 5 1915, he played under several aliases, including Leonard “Speck” Parsons and Paul Mann.

Revere graduated from the University of Nebraska with a Degree in Mathematics a was known for his card counting strategies developed with Julian Braun detailed in “Playing Blackjack as a Business” The strategies included The Revere Point Counting, The Ten Count Strategy, The Revere Five Count Strategy and The Reverse Plus-Minus Strategy. He was a controversial figure as he worked both sides of the game, a casino pit boss, and a player where he advised both and his strategies still get used today.

Making The Most of his Experience

Revere is amongst the most famous names in Blackjack, and he grew up on the streets during the Great Depression hawking newspapers for two cents apiece. By the age of 13, he got involved in a life of gambling, working as a Blackjack dealer in the backroom of a barbershop. After graduating with a Masters in Math’s during World War II, he moved to Las Vegas. Revere had no trouble finding employment at a casino as a Blackjack dealer climbing the ladder to pit boss, even operating his own casino for a while.

His employers didn’t know that he was secretly batting for the other team as a professional Blackjack player and soon became a master of disguise to sustain his anonymity throughout his extensive 27-year gambling career. Lawrence Reveres 1969 publication Playing Blackjack as a Business was the first strategy guide on Blackjack written by a professional Blackjack player with insider knowledge from both sides of the fence.

Where is he now?

Sadly Lawrence Revere passed away on April 23 1977, from lung cancer and in 2005, Revere’s accomplishments got recognized with his worthy induction into the Hall of Fame.

Johnny Chan

Johnny Chan’s life is a tale of rags to riches. The ordinary Chinese boy became a professional Chinese- American poker player. As well as the 1987 and 1988 World Series of Poker main events, he has won 10 World Series of Poker bracelets.

Chan ( nicknamed Orient Express ) was born in Guangzhou, China, in 1957 and moved to the United States in 1968. His family settled in Arizona before relocating to Houston, Texas, where his family owned restaurants. He began playing cards here. As a 21-year-old, he dropped out of university and moved to Las Vegas to become a professional poker player.

Chan’s Gambling Career

During Chan’s first casino experience at age 16, he allegedly turned $500 into $20k by playing a cash game in one night. On the following day, however, he lost everything. He was also the first Chinese National to win the World Series of Poker (WSOP). There is a cameo appearance by Chan in the movie Rounders, which depicts the 1988 WSOP final heads-up.

The owner of the LA Lakers, Jerry Buss, promised him an NBA championship ring if he won three consecutive events. Instead, he finished second to Phil Hellmuth and lost out on the ring.

Chan became the first person to win ten World Series of Poker bracelets when he defeated Phil Laak in a $2,500 Pot Limit Texas Hold ‘Em event in 2005. Currently, he is tied with Doyle Brunson and Phil Ivey for second place with 10 World Series of Poker bracelets, behind Phil Hellmuth. In 2002, he was inducted into the well-known Poker Hall of Fame.

Where is he now?

As well as playing poker, Chan owns and operates a fast-food franchise at the Stratosphere Hotel in Las Vegas. Besides being a consultant for game makers and casinos, he is also the author of the book “Card Player.”