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Annie Duke

Lovely Annie Duke (Annie LaBarr Duke (nee Lederer)) was born into a competitive family based in Concord, NH where the family would gather round the dinner table to swap cash and play cards.  The card games were a frequent and led to her brother Howard to become an impressive poker star in his own right.  With competition like that it’s no surprise that Annie became the poker force we now know and love.

Annie Duke

Annie Duke

In the early 90s Annie Duke up and married Mr. Ben Duke and moved to Montana and it was there that she began playing hard poker in the card rooms in Billings, and where brother Howard helped her out with both coaching and stakes.  Then, in 1994, lured by the bright lights the tasty brunette moved to Las Vegas to play poker as a way of making a living. She started well taking 13th in her first WSOP tournament, (and family loyalty being what it is) she managed to knock out her brother in the process.  Sometimes family pride trumps financial success and Howard was far to impressed with his sis to gripe that he was the one who suggested that Annie play in the event in the first place.

When most women are eight months pregnant them are content to sit at home complaining about swollen ankles and scoffing odd food, but an eight months pregnant Annie Duke was sticking at the tables and playing poker in the World Series (2000) while she was eight months pregnant with her third child.  The hot momma finished the Main Event in 10th place, one spot shy of the final table.

Sadly in 2004 Annie Duke split from her husband, but ever the gambler she may have lost a husband but she won  $500 off fellow poker pro Steve Zolotow, who bet her that her marriage wouldn’t last five years. It wasn’t all bad news in 2004 as while  still being a mother to three demanding kids, Annie adorned her wrist with her first WSOP bracelet when she went and won the $2,000 Omaha Hi/Lo Split event.  It’s not all about the money, but The Duchess of Poker will have no bother buying a soccer mom van (or any car) as the same year she also won the inaugural winner-take-all invitational WSOP Tournament of Champions, and took home the first place price of $2 million.

Still in 2004 Annie Duke was generous to share her skills with a would-be movie director called Ben Affleck. We may never know what Annie said but Mr Affleck went on to win the 2004 California State Poker Championship so it’s safe to assume that she made sense.

Annie Duke,WSOP,Omaha Hi/Lo Split,How I Raised, Folded, Bluffed, Flirted, Cursed, and Won Millions at the World Series of Poker

Annie Duke,WSOP,Omaha Hi/Lo Split,How I Raised, Folded, Bluffed, Flirted, Cursed, and Won Millions at the World Series of Poker

You can face off against Annie Duke and her brother as in 2005, the siblings promoted some video poker games featuring them both as competitors.  Never one to rest on her Laurels Annie Duke worked hard after her big wins and she helped developed a semi-autobiographical TV pilot for NBC, starred in a poker game show for GSN and penned her autobiography How I Raised, Folded, Bluffed, Flirted, Cursed, and Won Millions at the World Series of Poker. On a more intimate level Annie Legend (as she’s sometimes known) has another interest, tattoos. She sports a figure of eight script of text of all her four kids’ (Maude Leo Lucy and Nelly) names and sports the words “say yes when nobody asked”, on her “lower back”  framed with a floral vine that twists around her waist.

Annie loves games and gaming and branched out from poker to win the second annual World Series of Rock Paper Scissors (WSORPS) in 2006. Now a fully fledged celebrity, Annie  appeared on the Donald Trump reality television show, Celebrity Apprentice in 2009. Of the field of 16, Annie survived up to the finale against Joan Rivers. While Duke’s fund-raising donations were more than triple those of Rivers’  donations were only one of five criteria of the final task, and Rivers triumphed in three out of the five, leaving Duke in second place overall.

Back at the tables in 2010 Annie won the National Heads-Up Poker Championship, and took home $500,000 along with the title.

Strong women act like strong women and Annie no longer plays in women’s only tournaments on a point of principle saying that “Poker is one of the few sports where a woman can compete on a totally equal footing with a man, so I don’t understand why there’s a ladies only tournament.”

And anything that means I’m more likely that I’ll get a sit across from her is fine by me.

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