Vanessa Selbst, the most successful woman ever in tournament poker, is working at Bridgewater Associates to learn another big-money grind: hedge funds.
Selbst, who won $11.9 million in prizes over 12 years in the card game, joined the world’s largest hedge fund, according to a person with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. In a Dec. 31 Facebook post announcing a career change, Selbst said she started at an unspecified hedge fund firm four months ago to focus on trading research and strategy. Selbst didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.
Photographer: Bebert Bruno/SIPA via AP Photo
“The environment feels a lot like poker did back in the day — a bunch of nerdy kids collaborating to try to beat our opponents at a game,” Selbst said in her post. “It’s also really freaking difficult.”
Hedge funds have turned to unconventional ways of acquiring fresh talent that could help boost performance. Ken Griffin’s Citadel co-hosted a year’s worth of data-science competitions at elite universities to recruit students who might otherwise seek jobs at technology giants such as Facebook Inc. or Apple Inc.
A spokeswoman for Westport, Connecticut-based Bridgewater declined to comment on the Selbst hire.
Though Selbst, 33, made her name while dragging casino chips, her Yale University undergraduate and law degrees point to a more traditional hedge fund background. Before joining Ray Dalio’s $160 billion firm, she worked part-time at a police misconduct plaintiffs’ law firm. The Brooklyn-born Selbst rethought her career after poker grew into too much of a “real job,” she told her followers, acknowledging that hedge funds might not work out.
“Every day I think I’m getting the hang of it, the next day I fail at the next challenge,” she said. “It’s exhausting, exciting, and completely humbling.”