A poker player appearing on a reality TV show isn't unprecedented. Maria Ho and Tiffany Michelle were both contestants on The Amazing Race, while players like Jean-Robert Bellande, Garrett Adelstein, and Anna Khait have either appeared or are rumored to appear on Survivor. That left just Big Brother as the only hit CBS reality show without a poker pro, though that's about to change.
The cast for Season 17 of the popular show was announced on Tuesday – about a week before the Wednesday, June 24 premiere – and includes well-known poker pro Vanessa Rousso among the 14 housemates. Joining her is 27-year-old Da'Vonne Rogers, whose occupation is listed as poker dealer.
PokerNews reached out to Rousso, but were told by a spokesperson manning her Twitter that "Vanessa has no access to any type of social media...she is in big brother."
According to HendonMob, Rousso has $3,530,832 in live tournament winnings, which puts her fifth on the Women's All-Time Money List. Her biggest score came back in 2009 when she took down the European Poker Tour Grand Final €25,000 High Roller for $700,160. She's also finished third in the 2010 World poker Tour Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic for $358,964, and won the 2006 WPT Borgata Poker Open $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em event for $285,450.
As for the show, her Big Brother bio adds:
"She's a tomboy who has always been extremely competitive, whether it's playing lacrosse in high school or beating men and women all over the world at the poker table. Being in a male-dominated industry, Vanessa isn't easily intimidated and is used to keeping her emotions in check, which will help her keep her eye on the prize. She's perfected the art of bluffing and knows that she can manipulate her Houseguests however she sees fit while living in the Big Brother house."
At 32, Rousso will be the second-oldest player in the Big Brother house, which pits houseguests against one another while being cutoff from the outside world. All the while they're filmed by hidden cameras, and ultimately compete for a $500,000 first-place prize. Every week a houseguest is evicted, eventually pitting the last two players against each other, at which point a jury comprised of evicted houseguests vote for a winner.
Rousso's experience in the poker world will no doubt serve her well, but it's probably no coincidence a poker dealer is also on the show. No doubt producers are hoping Rogers, who is descrived as coming from "an extremely religious family," recognizes Rousso.
Here's how Big Brother describes Rogers:
"As a poker dealer, she has studied the game and done the competitions along with the Houseguests while watching the show. She knows she needs to learn each person well, even though she doesn't like to team-up with people. She knows she can only trust herself. A super tomboy growing up, she is a strong woman and a single mom. Not worried about the opinions of others, she is doing this for her daughter, hoping to win the money for her future!"
The Rogers/Rousso dynamic could prove interesting, but only time will tell how it all unfolds. Big Brother airs three times a week, so be sure to tune in all summer long to see how long Rousso can last.
Photo (Rogers): Big Brother Network