The Duchess Of Poker: Annie Duke

Thursday, December 23, 2010

When it comes to women making money in the game of poker, Annie Duke is one of the best in the business. Having grown up in a card-playing household in New Hampshire, Duke learned to play poker with her family and followed her brother Howard Lederer into a pro poker career after giving up her doctorate research at the University of Pennsylvania to get married and move to Montana.

Pretty, smart and popular, Annie Duke completed a major in English and Psychology at Columbia University intending to follow in the footsteps of her parents and becoming a teacher. Instead, she enrolled as a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania for Cognitive Psychology.

In 1991, while Annie Duke was knee deep in doctorate research, she proposed marriage to an old friend, Ben Duke, packed up her life and research and left academia behind for Billings, CO.Living in romantic poverty with her husband, Duke began to play poker in local pokers rooms to pay the mortgage on their first home.

In 1994, at the suggestion of her brother, Howard Lederer- one of the top poker players in the world, Annie Duke tried her hand at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. She ended up placing 13th in her first tournament, knocking her brother out of play. After winning 70K in her first month of competition, Annie Duke and her husband made the move to Las Vegas so she could pursue poker professionally.

Over the course of the next decade, poker pro Annie Duke established herself as one of the best poker players in the world. In 2004, Annie Duke beat out an assembly of 234 players in the WSOP $2000 buy-in Omaha Hi/Lo Split and won her first WSOP bracelet. 

In August of the same year, the duchess of poker knocked out 8 of the worlds’ greatest poker legends and won $2 million in the No-Limit Texas Hold’em winner-take-all, invitation-only WSOP Tournament of Champions, established by ESPN and Harrah’s Entertainment.

Since then she's accumulated millions of dollars in tournament cashes, a WSOP bracelet win 2004 along with winning the WSOP Tournament of Champions event that same year, and several World Poker Tour cashes.

Duke uses her poker expertise and experience to teach others the game as well. She is an instructor for the WSOP Academy and for the poker training site 

Annie Duke now serves as a consultant for the online poker site to ensure that their rules of poker and tournament structure match those you would find in the famous poker rooms of the Las Vegas strip. Furthermore, she is sought after for her vast poker skills and knowledge, coaching the likes of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon on their poker game.

As one of the top female players in the game, Duke's public profile has grown quite a bit outside of the poker realm as well. 

In 2009, Annie Duke starred on Celebrity Apprentice alongside stars such as Dennis Rodman, Joan and Melissa Rivers, Clint Black and more. She played the boardroom game well enough to make it into the final against Joan Rivers but fell just short of winning.

During the show she raised more than $700,000 for Refugees International. She uses her celebrity to raise money for that and other organizations that help aid humanitarian efforts in Darfur as well with her Ante Up for Africa Celebrity Charity Poker Tournament in Las Vegas during the WSOP each year. She co-created the tournament with Don Cheadle. Top poker pro Annie Duke has also helped with fundraising efforts for Children's Hospital and other charities.

In September 2005, Annie Duke's long awaited autobiography hit the shelves “Annie Duke: How I raised, folded, bluffed, flirted, cursed and won millions at the World Series of Poker”. Written in conjunction with David Diamond, the autobiography highlights the obstacles in Annie’s personal life, with her path to achieve her first WSOP bracelet.

Duke has released a series of DVD’s, which include “Annie Duke’s Advanced Texas Hold’em Secrets: How to Beat the Big Boys” in October 2005, “Annie Duke’s Beginner’s Guide To Texas Hold ‘em” and “Annie Duke’s Girl’s Guide To Texas Hold ‘em” both released in January 2006, and the February 2006 release of “Masters of Poker: Annie Duke’s Conquering Online Poker”

Annie Duke has also filmed a pilot called “Annie Duke Takes on the World” which premieres May 1 on GSN. Her production company Ten Dimes Productions, which she started with Joe Reitman, is currently developing a horror film script.

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