Annie Duke isn’t only famous for being a talented poker
player, for she has won a WSOP gold bracelet and NBC’s National
Heads Up Championship, but she is also known for the hours of
time she devotes to raising money for charitable causes.
Duke loves combining her love of poker and her passion for
helping people in need by sponsoring charity poker tournaments.
She has successfully raised millions of dollars for various
causes including Refugees International and Operation USA.
Annie Duke, whose maiden name was Annie Lederer, was born
September 13th, 1965. She has one brother, Howard who is an
incredible poker player and a sister Katy, who is an established
author, having written books on poker herself. When they were
young, they would play various card games together, always being
Duke attended Columbia University where she double-majored in
English and Psychology. After graduation, she accepted a full
ride scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania, for a PhD in
Duke first played Texas Hold’em in Las Vegas while visiting
her brother, Howard Lederer, during her graduate school years.
Her brother persuaded her to play poker professionally, sending
her with a $2,400 starting bankroll and sending poker strategy
books. He also would have regular phone conversations with her
where they would discuss different ways she could improve her
Professional Poker Career
Duke initially played in tournaments at the Crystal Lounge in
Billings, Montana. Her brother convinced her that her poker
abilities would good enough to match the pros at the 1994 World
Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Within the first month of the
competition, she won $70,000 and decided that it would be in her
best interest to move to Las Vegas to start playing poker
Duke continued entering the WSOP and by 2000, she had sixteen
in the money finishes at that tournament in total. Despite being
nine-months pregnant, she placed 10th in the 2000 WSOP World
Championship main event, which was the second-highest finish by
a woman in the event’s history.
She won her first WSOP gold bracelet in 2004, taking first
place in the Omaha Hi-Lo Split tournament. By July of that year
she had become the top female money winner in the history of the
WSOP, earning over $650,000.
In 2010, Duke won NBC’s National Heads Up Poker Championship,
winning $500,000 and becoming the first and only female winner
of the event. She was competing against 64 other players,
including Erik Seidel and Huck Seed, who made it to the final
Other Poker Associations
In the early 2000s, Duke worked as a spokesperson and
consultant for ieLogic, the company that developed online poker
software for Ultimate Bet. She moved to Portland, Oregon where
IeLogic”s headquarters were located, but only stayed with the
company for a few years.
In the mid-2000s, she develop the idea for the television
show, Annie Duke Takes on the World, which played on the Game
Show Network for several season, as people enjoyed watching her
play poker against amateur players.
She has written a variety of poker guide books, including The
Middle Zone, Decide to Play Great Poker, and her autobiography,
“How I Raised, Folded, Bluffed, Flirted, Cursed, and Won
Millions at the World Series of Poker,” which was published in
She has served on the World Series of Poker advisory
committee, where she was given the opportunity to teach at the
WSOP Poker Academy poker school. She has taught a number of
celebrities on the basics of playing poker, including Ben
Affleck and Matt Damon.
Personal Life/ Notable Charities
Annie was married to Ben Duke for twelve years, before
getting a divorce. They have four beautiful children together:
Maud, Leo, Lucy, and Neil. She has full custody of the children
and moved with them to Hollywood Hill, California after the
divorce was finalized. Shortly after moving, in 2009, she
appeared on NBC’s hit show, Celebrity Apprentice, where she
helped raise over $700,000 for Refugees International, a charity
that advocates for refugees around the world.
Duke is a co-founder of Epic Poker League, whose main goal is
to raise funds for various charities. They sponsored several
tournaments at the Palms Casino Resort and were able to raise
more than $125,000. Of that money, $25,000 was given to the
Fallen Heroes USA organization, $48,000 was given to the Prevent
Cancer Foundation, and $53,000 was given for Operation USA,
which supports families of fallen officers.
In 2013, Duke was honored to be invited to serve on the Board
of Directors for After School All-Stars, where she and other
successful men and women taught children that they can
accomplish anything as long as they have the drive and
motivation to do so. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the
Chairman of this group, said this in regards of Duke,
“She is smart, tough, and she knows what it takes to succeed.”
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