Vanessa didn't waste much time in the Big Brother house, quickly asserting herself as someone to be trusted and listened to by other houseguests. Her history as a poker player and great gameplay have sparked a great deal of comparisons to the winner of BB16, Derrick Levasseur. Derrick's history as a cop (which he kept secret much like Vanessa's poker career), helped him know how to read and manipulate people to his benefit within the house. With her experience and strategy, it looks like Vanessa winning Big Brother 17 could be a very likely scenario for this season. If she continues to make the best game moves for herself, that is.
Vanessa recently spearheaded the formation of the Dark Moon alliance whose sole purpose was to backdoor Austin. However, once plans started to go awry, it looked like Vanessa was having second thoughts about putting up the man she swore to evict. After Austin made a seemingly earnest apology for his actions, Vanessa nominated Jason instead of sticking to the Dark Moon alliance.
If Vanessa can be talked out of evicting the most despised person in the house, who will be able to trust her when she promises to evict someone else instead of backdooring a secret target? If Vanessa wants to make it to the end, she needs to figure out where her interests lie and who her closest allies are, and these houseguests are a good place to start.
Clay & Shelli
Vanessa's closest partnership in the house is the showmance of Clay and Shelli. These three formed a core partnership within the Sixth Sense alliance, and regularly consulted each other whenever Austin would inevitably do something to make playing Big Brother more difficult than it had to be. However, Clay and Shelli campaigned to get Vanessa to not put up Austin as a replacement candidate after they declared that getting him out of the game was their priority. Why do Clay and Shelli think keeping him is a good idea? Further, if Vanessa, Clay, and Shelli make it to final three then there is no way that Shelli and Clay are going to evict each other. If Vanessa sticks with them, she's playing for third place.
Austin recently made a case for himself when he discovered he was the prospective POV renomination for the week. He brought his supposed loyalty and willingness to throw the entire game for himself if it allows him to get to the jury house with Liz (who does not like Austin ). Vanessa thinks she may be able to use Austin's kamikaze-gameplay to her advantage, but what makes Vanessa think he won't abandon her in a heartbeat if Liz tells him to? Vanessa needs someone who she can actually trust, instead of the paranoid, overbearing tree-trunk of a man that is Austin.
The Rest Of Dark Moon (James, Jason, Meg, Becky, Jackie)
Vanessa barely lasted half a week before blowing up her eight-person alliance. Sure, there were a lot of different personalities at play and the After Dark Crew (James, Jason, Jackie) would probably have stuck together. However, evicting Austin would have gained loyalty from Jackie, Becky, Julia, and (probably) Liz. Was it really worth it to betray an alliance in its infancy because the person who broke your trust asked for your forgiveness?
Steve has long acted as Vanessa's advisor. Vanessa has gone to Steve when things have gotten rough with Clay, Shelli, the twins, Austin, or anyone in the house. Steve's status as being essentially alliance-less means that he won't go running off spilling her secrets to anyone happy to hear them. He was a voice of reason in Vanessa's consideration of saving Austin, mentioning both pros and cons instead of campaigning strongly one way or the other. The smartest thing Vanessa can do as this game continues is to keep Steve at her side. For more on these great game moves, check out Bustle's BB17 podcast.
Vanessa is playing a solid game of Big Brother right now. If she wants to actually win the $500,000, she's going to need to take a long, hard look at the people she's working with. If she doesn't get rid of the dead weight, it may pull her out of the house.