Annie Duke
by Greg Cavouras  

Annie Duke - Source

In a game that has historically been dominated by males, Annie Duke is making some serious waves. Beyond kicking the stereotype, Annie Duke has gone one better by not only beating the top women players, but taking out the men as well. She is currently the top female poker player in the world, and also has a WSOP bracelet to show for her success.


Annie Duke was born into a very competitive family, and family card nights were the norm during her childhood. Between herself and Poker star brother Howard Lederer, those must have been some pretty intense games! As a child, Annie excelled in school and went on to pursue studies in English and Psychology at Columbia University. As a student, Annie frequently visited her brother’s poker games, but oddly never joined in. Instead she continued her studies in cognitive psychology at graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania, where she won an esteemed National Science Foundation Fellowship.


In the early 90s, Howard Lederer brought Annie to Las Vegas during a weekend off of Grad School. It was the WSOP week, and Howard taught Annie the basics of Texas Hold’em. A couple of trips to Las Vegas was all it would take for the competitive Duke to get hooked on the game, and in 1992 she left her studies to take up the game.


This was a very bold move indeed for a young woman who had just competed 5 years of Graduate School! Her poker career began in Billings, Montana, where she played the local tournaments. Big brother Howard taught her a few things, and after some small successes in Montana, he convinced her to enter her first WSOP tournament. She placed in 3 tournaments in her first year, and cashed out over $70,000 in winnings, and secured her future as a professional poker player.


Annie’s commitment to poker has paid big dividends for her; she has won major tournaments and even took the title (and $2 million pot) away from the World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions, knocking out 8 of the top players in the world along the way. She also does instructional seminars, and is even personal tutor to movie star Ben Affleck.


Perhaps the only thing that exceeds Annie’s commitment to Poker is her commitment to her family; she’s a mother to four children, and they will always take priority over Poker according to Annie.

When she does finally retire from the game, it’s safe to say she’ll be remembered as one of the all time greats, not one of the all time great women. Annie has proven herself against the top players in the game, irrespective of gender.

Annie Duke's Official Site

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