The stereotype of the poker player as an overweight man with a cowboy hat and a cigar is due a revision. The new poker player is a lot more like Annie Duke: attractive, athletic, hip and female. Indeed, it seems that a large percentage of online poker players right now are women, and Annie Duke has been partly responsible for this surge of women’s interest in poker.
Annie Duke comes from a family of intellectuals from New Hampshire, who enjoyed playing card games around the kitchen table. But while brother Howard Lederer went on to pursue a career as a professional chess and poker player, Duke chose to follow her father’s academic lead and went to the University of Pennsylvania to study cognitive psychology. Yet in spite of her successful career – including a coveted National Science Foundation Fellowship, – when she was one month away from defending her PhD she dropped her studies, got married and moved to Montana.
At this point Duke started playing poker in Montana to help support her family, while Lederer coached her and insisted on her playing the WSOP. She decided to give it a try and finished thirteenth in her first tournament, after which she decided to move her family to Vegas and pursue poker professionally.
A woman in a man’s sport, Duke refuses to play in events for women only, saying: “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.” Since the 90s she has evolved into a phenomenal player with a WSOP bracelet to her name, over $3,500,000 in tournament wins and a solid reputation as one of the two best women players along with Jennifer Harman.
Duke’s success and popularity go beyond poker: she has appeared on several TV shows, including NBC’s “1 vs. 100” and “Deal or no Deal.” In 2006, Annie won the World Series of Roshambo (Rock-Paper-Scissors) tournament, earning $10,000. A funny fact: a Jersey horse breeder named a filly after Annie Duke, hoping that she will grow to be as successful and competitive as her namesake.
Duke famously placed 10th in the 2000 World Series of Poker main event while eight months pregnant with her third child, and her commitment to her four children makes her very admired and respected among poker players – when asked to choose between a tournament and a play where one of her children will perform, she said she would attend the play, no question. She has branched out of poker into teaching (Ben Affleck is one of her most famous pupils,) consulting and writing, and has become quite a poker celebrity, encouraging other talented women to go out there and play with the best.
Duke’s game analysis (by Barry Greenstein):
- Aggressiveness: 6
- Looseness: 3
- Short-handed: 6
- Limit: 7
- No-limit: 4
- Tournaments: 6
- Side games: 6
- Steam control: 6
- Against weak players: 7
- Against strong players: 5