The World Series of Poker may have been the biggest attraction in the poker world this summer, but there was a sideshow that stole some of the spotlight just before the WSOP Main Event.
The $500,000 buy-in Super High Roller Bowl, which took place at the Aria, draw a field of 43 players and a prize more of more than $21 million, with Brian Rast taking home the $7,525,000 top prize.
That event was largely made for television, as the NBC Sports Network will begin showing episodes covering the action in the Super High Roller Bowl later this month.
But in order to whet the appetite of poker fans, the network has been airing action from another event that took place in conjunction with that massive event: the Super High Roller Celebrity Shootout.
The Celebrity Shootout brought together ten players, a mix of poker pros and celebrity players, for a tournament with a $1 million top prize.
The event results weren’t publicized, meaning that most of the world found out that Vanessa Selbst won the tournament only Wednesday night, when the final episode of Celebrity Shootout coverage aired on the NBC Sports Network.
The tournament began with two separate tables of five players: one for the pros, and the other for the celebrities.
The professional table was made up of a virtual who’s who of the poker world: along with Selbst, Doyle Brunson, Antonio Esfandiari, Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu were in attendance.
At the other table was a group of celebrities who have become well known for enjoying poker. The table featured Hank Azaria, Don Cheadle, Brad Garrett, Norm Macdonald and Kevin Pollak.
For most of the event, the two groups remained separate. Each table played down to a winner, with Selbst taking the top spot among the pros, while Pollak emerged victorious from the celebrity table.
That left the three-time bracelet winner Selbst against Pollak (who has had some WSOP Main Event success of his own) in a best-of-three showdown for the title.
In such a short series, anything was possible, but it came as little surprise when it was Selbst who ultimately walked away with the title and the $1 million in prize money.
The tournament was organized by Poker Central, a poker network that is preparing to launch on television later this year. They also produced the television coverage for the Super High Roller Bowl itself, which will begin airing on the NBC Sports Network on August 28.
“Vanessa is a great example of how fascinating poker players are,” said Poker Central CEO Clint Stinchcomb. “The stories behind the players are just as interesting as their play. Poker’s popularity, with players and fans alike, crosses all ages and demographics.”
According to Poker Central, Selbst plans to put at least some of her winning towards Venture Justice, a foundation she created to help support social justice causes in the New York City area.
Such issues are important to Selbst, a lawyer who passed the bar exam earlier this year. On September 29, Selbst will be hosting a charity event known as Blinds & Justice in order to benefit the Urban Justice Center, a group that advocates and provides legal service for underprivileged residents in New York City.