Annie Duke is the Duchess of Poker
Annie Duke is a former professional poker player and one of the leading female poker players of all time. Duke has won a World Series of Poker bracelet and had an incredible run in the Main Event in her career.
The California native is also widely known for her numerous poker books and her advocacy of player’s rights in the game. Outside of poker, she is known for her philanthropy, raising money for a number of good causes. Annie’s publishing career now covers decision making. This uses poker thinking in real-world situations.
Annie Duke at the World Series of Poker
While not the biggest win of her career in financial terms, perhaps Annie Duke’s greatest moment in poker came in 2004 when she won her first and only WSOP bracelet.
She entered the $2,000 buy-in Omaha High-Low 8/OB event and faced a field of 233 other players.
Annie would make it all the way to the final table, which included poker luminaries Todd Brunson and Erik Seidel. Duke eventually faced Ronald Graham heads up and would win the tournament, collecting $137,000 and that all-important bracelet.
$2 Million Tournament of Champions Prize
She followed up that win by landing the Tournament of Champions the same year. Being an invitational event, she did not claim a bracelet, although she did claim the winner-takes-all $2 million first prize.
The win in 2004 was not an upset, as Annie Duke had previously finished 2nd in two events at the series. In addition, Duke finished in 10th place in the main event in 2000.
Other Major Poker Tournament Successes for Annie Duke
In 2010, Annie Duke was one of the 64 competitors in the NBC Heads Up Championship Event. The tournament had a buy-in of $20,000 and the winner would walk away with half a million dollars.
This star-studded event saw 16 players cash, with names such as Chris Moneymaker, Annette Obrestad, Doyle Brunson, and Jason Mercier in the money. Duke would beat Andy Bloch in the first round, before defeating Darvin Moon in round.
In the last 16 she faced Paul Wasicka and in what was considered the match of the tournament, Duke came through victorious. She then beat Jerry Yang in the Elite 8 round, before defeating Dennis Phillips in the final four. In the final she faced her friend Eric Seidel (who was also at the final table when Duke won her WSOP Bracelet).
The final was a best of 3 match up. Duke won the first game, then Seidel evened the score, to head to a decider. The final hand saw in the final match up saw Duke clinch victory with a pair of nines. She joined an illustrious list of winners that included both Phil Hellmuth and Chris Ferguson.
Duke has also had success on the World Poker Tour. She claimed a victory in a Limit Hold’em event in 2004, as well as a final table in the $10,000 main event in the WPT World Poker Finals in the same year.
Annie Duke Playing Style and Poker Books
Annie Duke would be what you consider to be a thinking poker player, using her logic to think through both the game and the wider issues in life. In a recent interview, Annie stated that ‘I would only bet if I felt like I was getting the best of it,’ which sums up the logical way her mind works.
Much of the playing style of Annie Duke is summarized in her many books on the game. Titles include ‘How I raised, Folded, Bluffed, Flirted, Cursed, and Won Millions at the World Series of Poker,’ ‘Decide to Play Great Poker’ and ‘The Middle Zone’. She also launched a DVD series entitled, ‘Annie Duke's Advanced Texas Hold'em Secrets: How to Beat the Big Boys’
Early Life and Charitable Ventures
Annie Duke was born as Anne LaBarr Lederer and is the sister of fellow professional poker player Howard Lederer. Her other sibling is Katy Lederer, a published author/poet. At University she double majored in English and Psychology at Columbia University, before pursuing a Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1992 she would marry Ben Duke, whom she would have four children with, the family living in Billings, Montana. In 2005, after a divorce in 2004, Duke and her children would relocate to California.
Duke is known for much philanthropic work within poker. She organized, alongside actor Don Cheadle and Norman Epstein, the non-profit Ante Up for Africa which raised more than $700,000 for African charities between 2007 and 2010. She also appeared on Celebrity Apprentice to raise money for Refugees International. Other events included hosting the After School All Stars poker tournament, a non-profit supporting after-school programs for children from low-income families. Outside poker, in 2014 Duke founded How I Decide, a non-profit to help young people develop the essential life skills of critical thinking and decision making.
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