Poker News

Fresh off announcing her departure from, reigning National Heads-Up Poker Championship winner Annie Duke sat down with Poker News Daily to discuss life away from the game. She also addresses the rumors that former colleague Phil Hellmuth will be on the hit ABC reality series “Dancing with the Stars.”

Poker News Daily: Thanks for joining us. Would you tune in to watch Phil Hellmuth strut his stuff on “Dancing with the Stars”?

Annie Duke: I think it’d be hilarious. I think he would make a great foil on the show. All of those things are amazing for poker. Any time you can bring a poker player into the mainstream world, it’s incredible. I adore Phil and he would make me watch that show, but I like Chris Ferguson for it too, who is an actual dancer.

With Phil, it’s always a love-hate relationship with the audience. People love to watch him because they love to hate him. You have people like that in every sport and he takes on that role in poker. He is amazing for poker, though. He does nothing but good things for the game.

PND: You were a former contestant on “Celebrity Apprentice” on NBC. Tell us how the casting process works for a reality show featuring celebrities.

Annie Duke: With “Apprentice,” it’s some people’s representatives reaching out and “Apprentice” having a wish list that they contact. I assume it happens that way on “Dancing with the Stars.” I know some people who have been asked to be on the show and also know people who have reached out. I would assume that with someone like Phil, it’d be him reaching out to “Dancing with the Stars.” I hope he’s on and wish him all the best. They would get an extra viewer in me.

PND: Congratulations on your engagement! Among those who responded to your engagement announcement was Kevin Pollak, who is the host of the new Fox game show “Million Dollar Money Drop.” Have you watched it?

Annie Duke: I have and think he’s fine as a game show host. I’m fascinated by the show. I love shows like that and have watched every episode. I think it’s an interesting idea from a decision-making standpoint that they start the contestants with $1 million. People feel like they’re losing money along the way, so it’s interesting to see how it affects people. They feel like the $1 million was theirs and then they lost it. I really love the torture of the game. You know half of those couples must be breaking up right after they’re on.

PND: Tell us the engagement story!

Annie Duke: Every year, I haven’t gotten a stocking. This year, Joe [Reitman] asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I said a stocking. So, I woke up Christmas morning and had a filled stocking. We opened our presents and I got halfway through it when Joe said I had to stop because opening the rest of the stocking would give away the presents that were under the tree.

I wanted shoes, Insanity DVDs, and cool glasses, so I was wondering what was in the stocking and kept asking to open it. When I finally got back to it, I found a lot of candy. I got to the bottom where the chocolate orange should have been and there was a big wrapped box. I had very specifically gone into a jewelry store that I love and told the lady there that if my boyfriend came in, she should tell him that I wanted a bracelet, so I thought it’d be in the box. I opened it up and inside was a ring box, but I didn’t get excited yet.

What Joe said when I looked at the box was, “I don’t think you want the Donald Trump [fake-out win] thing to happen twice.” I opened up the ring box and inside was an engagement ring. It was a designer one that I wanted and I looked at him. I was crying, had my head in my hands, and the kids came over to ask me why I was crying. He did it in a way that included the kids, which was nice.

PND: Can you talk about your upcoming poker schedule?

Annie Duke: Outside of the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship and the Bay 101 Shooting Star events, I’m going to have to have a light poker schedule in the spring. I’m going to play a bunch during the World Series and I’m speaking at a business conference and an Adventures of the Mind conference, which is for 16 year olds and I’m on the committee of.

PND: We understand you have a poker strategy book in the works?

Annie Duke: It’s a 400-page poker strategy bible. Vanessa Rousso and I are writing a heads-up book where we’re analyzing all of the hands we played in the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship. We’re in the middle of doing that and it’ll take us a couple of months. We’re making a website with the audio files too.

PND: What do you foresee happening with’s stable of pros?

Annie Duke: I assume that they’re re-strategizing. I assume that they’ll continue on strong in the market though. They’re the #3 brand in the USA and I assume they’ll continue to succeed.

PND: What was the biggest poker story of 2010?

Annie Duke: The Harry Reid bill this fall. Getting so close to legislation being passed and having it all fall apart at the last minute was the biggest story. That’s the most powerful piece of news we had and it was a pretty big year in terms of poker news.

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