Way back in June, poker pro Vanessa Rousso entered the Big Brother house for the 17th season of the hit CBS television show. Rousso was joined by 13 other housemates, but over the course of 98 days all but three were evicted. On Wednesday night's finale, 22-year-old college student Steve Moses and 23-year-old marketing coordinator Liz Nolan joined Rousso, with the winner slated to take home a $500,000 first-place prize.
Despite being largely considered the best player of the season – thanks in no small part to her manipulation skills, game theory knowledge, and willingness to make big moves – and given a 64% chance of winning by Gold Derby, Rousso had to settle for third place after Moses won the final Head of Household competition and opted to take Nolan to the final.
“Vanessa, you have played the most brilliant game," Moses said before evicting Rousso. "I mean this as a student and super fan of this game. As a student of this game, you are the most brilliant female player this game has ever seen."
It proved a wise decision for Moses, who ultimately won the game via 6-3 vote (Rousso voted for Nolan, who ended up taking home $50,000 for her runner-up finish). Still, many Big Brother fans were upset Rousso didn't win. Dan Gheesling, who is considered one of the best Big Brother contestants in history, said it best on Twitter:
In Big Brother the best player doesn't always win unfortunately for Vanessa. Vanessa played her tail off she should be proud. #BB17Follow @DanGheesling
Great to see Vanessa go out with class. Her saying good game to Steve on the way out makes me wish she won. #BB17Follow @DanGheesling
During the game, Rousso successfully hid the fact that she was a successful poker pro, instead opting to tell houseguests that she was a DJ in Las Vegas. It wasn't exactly a lie as Rousso had been known to dabble in music in her free time. After being evicted, Rousso came clean to the rest of the houseguest, who in turn gave her credit for having a stellar poker face.
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.
"I gave this thing my blood, sweat, tears, agony," Rousso told BB's Jeff Schroeder after the show. "I have no regrets about the choices that I made … I’m trying not to come out of this depressed."
With such a strong performance on BB17, we certainly wouldn't be surprised to see Rousso get another shot at the game, perhaps in an all-star season. Rest assured, if and when that happens, PokerNews will be there to let you know.
*Lead photo courtesy of CBS.