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Gary Trask

Gary  Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's Editor in Chief and has worked as a writer and editor more than 25 years. The Boston native was a member of the Poker Hall of Fame's inaugural Media Committee.

Contact Gary at and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

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Vanessa Rousso to be left out of SI swimsuit edition

15 Jan 2009

By Gary Trask

LAS VEGAS -- It looks like an appearance by Vanessa Rousso in the Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue next month just isn't in the cards this year.

Rousso announced in her PokerStars video blog on Jan. 4 that she was going to be photographed in the Bahamas that day by SI. And the shoot did indeed take place. But an SI spokesperson told Casino City on Wednesday that the PokerStars pro was going to be left out of the issue. The magazine did not offer details on why Rousso was going to be omitted. (Update: Rousso to appear in SI swimsuit issue in 'custom content' piece paid for by PokerStars)


(photo by Stephanie Moore)

Casino City spoke to Rousso on Tuesday as she was traveling to the World Poker Tour's Southern Poker Championship in Mississippi. At that point, neither the 25-year-old nor Casino City was aware that SI was not going to use her pictures, so the conversation focused on her SI photo shoot. Efforts to reach Rousso in Mississippi the last two days were unsuccessful.

According to Rousso, SI contacted her in mid-December to see if she would be interested in taking part in a photo shoot for the magazine while she was attending the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas in January. Rousso said she was excited about the opportunity and decided if she was going to do it, she needed to get in tip-top physical shape. She said she worked out twice a day for the 21 days leading up to the shoot, which took place in The Cove section of the Atlantis Resort.

"It was a good opportunity for me to see what kind of shape I could get myself into," said Rousso, who said she skipped the Five Diamond World Poker Classic at the Bellagio in order to concentrate on her workout schedule. "Sometimes as a poker player you end up just sitting on your butt all day so this was a nice change of pace. I used it as a motivating factor."

The photo shoot lasted around five hours, including an hour Rousso spent in the make-up chair prior to the actual session. Rousso's parents were there to watch the cameras click away and her father was even asked to get in the ocean at one point to help out with holding the props for a spear fishing-themed pictorial.

"It was a lot of fun," said Rousso, who wore a bikini for the shoot. "I did a swimsuit shoot for a poker magazine a few years ago, but this was much different and more revealing. The Sports Illustrated production team went out of their way to make me feel completely comfortable and from what I saw on the day of the shoot, I was real happy with the way the photos came out. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I really enjoyed it."

Rousso, who has more than $1.5 million in career poker winnings, said she wasn't surprised that SI considered putting a poker player in the pages of the swimsuit issue, which has become a wildly popular edition of the magazine since it began being published in 1964 and has generated its own television shows, videos and calendars.

"Poker is growing," she said. "Last year they had Danica Patrick, the woman auto racing driver, so if they consider auto racing a sport, they can certainly consider poker a sport."

Rousso said that her fiancée and fellow poker pro Chad Brown was thrilled that SI came calling.

"Some guys would get jealous about something like this, but that's how Chad is," said Rousso, who said the couple's wedding plans have been "pushed to the back burner for now" because of all the traveling the their jobs require them to do. "He thought it was a cool thing for me to do."

Rousso, who lives in Las Vegas and hopes to finish the two books she is working on at some point in 2009, said that in addition to getting herself in great shape for the shoot, it also allowed her to step away from poker and "clear her mind."

"I played the least amount of poker during that two-week period than I have in about two and a half years," she said as she prepared for the next month of travel that will take her to France, Russia, Los Angeles, Denmark and back to Las Vegas. "I feel refreshed and I'm ready to get back into the poker-player style of living. I think the break is really going to help me in the long run."

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