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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Who is Annie Lederer?

Who is Annie Lederer? The Poker World knows her as Annie Duke, she is a professional poker player and author who won a bracelet in the 2004 World Series of Poker $2,000 Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better Event and was the winner of the 2004 World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions, where she earned the Winner-Take-All prize of $2,000,000.

Duke was born September 13, 1965 in Concord, New Hampshire where her father, Richard Lederer, a writer and linguist, was teaching at St. Paul's School.[1] Her brother, Howard Lederer, is also a professional poker player. Her sister, Katy Lederer, is an author and poet who also wrote a book about the Lederer family, titled Poker Face: A Girlhood Among Gamblers. Duke has four children: Maud (1995), Leo (1998), Lucy (2000), and Nell (2002).[1]
Annie went to Columbia University where she double-majored in English and psychology. Subsequent to her undergraduate years, Duke was awarded an NSF Fellowship to attend graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania to study psycholinguistics, a field within cognitive psychology.

She married Ben Duke, a close friend from the same university, and moved to his home in Columbus, Montana. Although originally intending to continue her studies, she decided to leave school in 1992, after five years of graduate school and one month before defending her Ph.D. work.[1] It was at this time that, with the support of her brother, she took up professional poker.
In 2002, she moved to Portland, Oregon to work for ieLogic, a company that produces software for online real time casino gaming. She and Ben were divorced in 2004, but she did win a $500 wager made with fellow pro Steve Zolotow,
who bet her that her marriage wouldn't last five years. In 2005 she and her children moved to the Hollywood Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. Duke and her then new, Mediterranean-style home — with boyfriend, actor, and producer Joe Reitman
— were featured in The New York Times article "At Home With Annie Duke" on January 19, 2006.[2]

After leaving her academic work, Duke began playing poker in the legal card rooms in Billings, Montana.[1] Her brother, Howard, was already a successful professional and he both coached and helped finance her poker play initially.[citation needed] In 1994, she and her husband moved to Las Vegas in order to commence playing poker full time.
In early 2004, Duke received considerable publicity for tutoring actor Ben Affleck, who then went on to win the 2004 California State Poker Championship.[3] Before that time, one of her claims to poker fame was her 10th place finish in the 2000 World Series of Poker (WSOP) main event — one position short of the final table — while eight months pregnant with her third child.[3] In the 2004 World Series of Poker, she eliminated her brother, Howard Lederer, from four separate events, including the World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions, where she took first place and her brother took third. During this same World Series, she won her first gold bracelet, in an Omaha Hi-Lo tournament. She was one of three women (Kathy Liebert and Cyndy Violette being the other two) to win an open event in that year's WSOP.
Duke is one of many poker players who take issue with the restrictions placed on players during televised tournaments. Although the players pay mandatory entry fees to enter tournaments, some venues do not allow players to wear sponsorship logos. Duke raised some controversy when she made a statement in a news article regarding this issue: "We [poker players] are not even slaves. We're people paying to pick the cotton."[4]


As of 2008, Annie holds the women's record for most "in the money" finishes at the WSOP. In September 2004, Duke won $2,000,000 in the inaugural World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions, a 10-player, winner-take-all invitational event. At the time, this victory was the most money paid in a single event to a female poker player. That record was broken by Annette Obrestad
during the 2007 World Series of Poker Europe Main Event.
Duke has won one World Series of Poker bracelet, in Omaha HiLo, and more than three million dollars in tournament play. Nowadays she refuses to play in women's only tournaments, 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."[5]
In the Main Event of the 2006 World Series of Poker, she finished in 88th place (out of 8,773 entrants) for $51,129 in winnings. She was one of two women left in the field when she was eliminated. (The remaining woman, Sabyl Cohen, later finished in 56th place for $123,699.)
As of 2008, her total live tournament winnings exceeded $3,600,000.[6] Her 35 cashes[jargon] at the WSOP account for $1,072,231 of those winnings.[7]

On January 30, 2006, Duke became the first poker personality to appear on The Colbert Report. During the show, she talked about her book and what it's like to be a woman in a male-dominated event. In 2006, The Game Show Network (GSN) premiered a television special titled Annie Duke Takes on the World, which features Duke playing against amateur poker players. Duke has also made appearances on the Ultimate Blackjack Tour playing Elimination Blackjack.

On December 1, 2006, Duke appeared as a member of the Mob on The National Broadcasting Network (NBC) program, 1 vs. 100.[8] She correctly answered every question and was the only celebrity who wasn't eliminated. She returned for the next few weeks, answering her questions correctly. She reappeared on the Christmas Day episode on December 25, answering a total of 35 consecutive questions correctly during her time on 1 vs. 100, making her the longest running mob member in the history of the show to that point. Duke returned on February 9, 2007 under special "Last Man Standing" rules where the game continued until only one person remained. She survived to reach the final five of 100 contestants, before she, along with three of the other four mob members including Ken Jennings, were eliminated.[9]
Annie Duke has appeared on NBC's Poker After Dark three times but has not won.

On March 24, 2008, Duke appeared on the NBC show Deal Or No Deal to support a contestant named Mary Beth Holtzheimer who, after taking a $341,000 deal from the bank with only two cases left, found her case #13 had the $1,000,000. Annie gave Mary Beth an offer earlier that included a dinner with herself, Mary Beth, and her fiance John Salmieri; private lessons; and an invitation to attend an All Ladies Poker league if the bank's offer was accepted, but it was not.
Along with Phil Hellmuth Jr., Duke is a coach on Fox Sports Network’s Best Damn Poker Show, which is sponsored by the poker site Ultimatebet.net.
She appeared on the Donald Trump reality television show, Celebrity Apprentice.[10] Throughout the season, each celebrity raises money for a charity of his or her choice. Duke has selected Refugees International[11] and has so far raised the most money among the contestants.[12] On May 3, 2009, Duke became a finalist in the series. The other finalist is her primary rival throughout the show, Joan Rivers did win and became the Celebruty Apprentice.


As well as competing, Duke writes and speaks on poker-related subjects, and promotes poker-related organizations. Since 2000, she has been a spokesperson for UltimateBet and has written many articles for the online poker website, mainly on Omaha HiLo. In 2005, Duke penned her autobiography, How I Raised, Folded, Bluffed, Flirted, Cursed, and Won Millions at The World Series of Poker.[13]


Annie Duke is a teacher at the WSOP Poker Academy poker school. She appeared on The Ellen Degeneres Show and donated a WSOP Academy Experience Package which was auctioned off to benefit the Humane Society.[14][15]

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