World's Biggest Hedge Fund Hires World's Best Female Poker Player

Bridgewater founder Ray Dalio has been preoccupied in recent months with promoting his new book - “Principles - and penning screeds about China and the struggles of the American working class.

But as Bridgewater Associates struggles to play down its tepid performance in recent years, it appears the firm's recruiters have scored another victory that should keep investors distracted from its middling performance.

To wit, Bloomberg reports that the $160 billion hedge fund has hired Vanessa Selbst, the world’s most successful female tournament poker player. Selbst, a Brooklyn native, is reportedly focusing on “trade research and strategy.” Among both buy and sell-side firms, strategy and research are often euphemisms for marketing. And at a shop like Bridgewater - where the machines do most of the investing - most of the firm’s 1,500 employees are essentially window-dressing.

While the company didn’t officially confirm that it had hired Selbst, a note published on her Facebook page explaining her decision to give up professional poker said that she had taken a job at an unspecified hedge fund.

"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."



News of Selbst’s decision to join the firm followed reports last week that former Bridgewater executive Bruce Steinberg and his family were among 10 Americans killed when a charter plane crashed into a mountain in Costa Rica about a week and a half ago.

According to Bloomberg, Selbst won $11.9 million in prizes over 12 years while playing professional poker.



In addition to her track record on the poker circuit, Selbst, 33, studied at Yale University as an undergraduate and also has a degree from Yale Law - a more traditional background for a hedge fund analyst.

Before joining Bridgewater, she worked part-time at a police misconduct plaintiffs’ law firm. Selbst said she gave up poker because it was starting to feel like a  “real job,” she told her followers. She also acknowledged that her hedge fund career might not work out.

Since about 2012, some of Bridgewater’s largest funds have seen their returns stagnate, as Jim Grant pointed out in a viral essay attacking the firm. Grant went so far as to suggest that the massive hedge fund might be a fraud.

In October, the firm unveiled a $700 million short position primarily against Italian financial stocks, its biggest disclosed short position involving European assets.



While Bridgewater PR wouldn’t comment, Selbst told Bloomberg that she thinks she’s getting the hang of the job.

"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."

Great. Maybe in a few months, she can circle back and explain to Bloomberg what exactly it is that Bridgewater’s employees during their 80-hour work weeks in Westport.


Buck Rogers Puerto Banus NA Wed, 01/10/2018 - 21:15 Permalink

It really depends on the action preflop. If you bet 10BB or greater and opponent called he probably has AK or AA, maybe QQ. He would have reraised with AA you’d think.

In that case calling an shove by your opponent on the flop is very risky.  Really depends on how big his stack is. If he’s deep stacked and a relatively tight player I’d fold though I agree if he’s got the nuts he’s not shoving so maybe it is a QQ bluff.

On the other hand if he’s short stacked and a loose goose, call it all day long. 

You really need to know the pre flop action, what kind of player he is and stack size. 

In reply to by Puerto Banus NA

Ness. Itch Wed, 01/10/2018 - 20:08 Permalink

Ha - Making a million a year before entry fees, taxes, expenses and now her soon to be desk fee's will get her a pink slip in my office. She'd be better off using that law degree or running for office as a Democrat transgender something or other. 

In reply to by Itch

pndr4495 Wed, 01/10/2018 - 19:17 Permalink

Fundamental analysis, technical analysis, microscopic analysis, card counting or any other method by which to try to trade a portfolio is immaterial now. What is material is having the right hardware and software combination so you can be nanos faster than your competition. Trading is a speed game & you need a limitless supply of ammunition. The NY Fed is an insurmountable foe & they will make short shrift of the poker player. Show us her stats in 6 months, maybe.

DipshitMiddleC… pndr4495 Thu, 01/11/2018 - 00:08 Permalink

there are people who trade algorithmically who do not rely on latency but..yeah..lots of computing power + data analytics and whatnot.


ive built some prototype strategies using machine learning and came up with some interesting stuff but... i dont have the $$$ to trade them for it to be profitable.


Having unique, disparate data sets and mashing them together with financial data can be lucrative


RenTec and firms of those nature are said to ingest terabytes of data everyday.

In reply to by pndr4495

Erwin643 pndr4495 Thu, 01/11/2018 - 13:42 Permalink

No, technical analysis still works. Been doing great trading volatility in BOTH directions (caught the right side of flash crashes on SVXY, etc.).

However, SVXY is going up so far and so fast, that the bounded indicators on weekly and monthly charts (which are usually the most predictive) aren't working. However, price with respect to 4 & 10 DAY moving averages is very indicative right now.

In reply to by pndr4495

adr Wed, 01/10/2018 - 19:37 Permalink

"She" wasn't that great of a poker player when "she" played as Rob. But claiming there was a pussy under the pants immediately sent "her" to the top of the pack.

Kind of like if Rob Gronkowski put on a wig and played in the lady football league.

Dragon HAwk Wed, 01/10/2018 - 19:39 Permalink

A lot of big market players are poker players, makes sense to hire the best, gives them the excuse to  Do Lunch.. and trade Yoga and Grand kid  stories.

1936ryer Wed, 01/10/2018 - 19:46 Permalink

This is such fucking crap it makes me sick -- I dont give a fuck how successful someone is when the market has gone one way since Dalio got into it and that is up.  Of course he was able to hedge himself in ways the average investor wasnt (buying credit default swaps etc.).   I fucking hate Dalio and if he wants to hire some lesbo who the fuck cares.

absente reo Wed, 01/10/2018 - 20:29 Permalink

I always say that trading is like poker cubed. But I think it's even worse than that. Maybe poker to the power of five. Welcome to our world, Vanessa. Bit more complicated than having a pair of cards.