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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Annie Duke – Then and Now

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Annie started in the poker world preceded by a very impressive brother. I talked to her about how she used that to her advantage and what she is doing now, more than ten years after she sat down at her first poker table.

KL: How did you get into poker?

Annie: My brother taught me, I used to watch him play. He started bringing me to the World Series. The first time he brought me out he just told me to go play black jack, which I did. The second time is when he taught me the exact rules and hands and told me to go play poker because blackjack was boring. After that I went back to graduate school. I had only played one other time besides that and I won money, playing 3/6 at the Mirage.

I left graduate school because I was sick and moved to Montana with my ex-husband. I was stuck in this small town not knowing what to do. I didn't have any money, we were broke and I mean really, really broke. Our mortgage was $125 a month and we couldn't afford it. We were living in this house that only cost like $11,000!

So in Billings, which is like forty minutes away, they played 3/6 and 10/20 poker. I had gone once and played the 3/6 game. Oh yeah, I remember that they didn't allow check raises in the game and I was so confused by that. Anyway, I won a little bit of money there so I thought maybe I should do this. My brother gave me $2400 and told me to go play in those games. After I would call him and I would ask "Ok I played this hand, did I play it right?"

KL: So from there you decided to play at the World Series?

Annie: Yes, he entered me into a limit event and I made it down to the final two tables. He had been watching me play and when I got knocked out I told him I was really sorry for getting knocked out. He said, ‘no, you were the most aggressive person at the table, I'm so excited.' He told me I should play in the next limit event, because I didn't know how to play no limit then, I had never played it before. He told me to go and start playing single table satellites and I did really well. I won half the satellites I played.

It was also a way for me to learn no limit, because the satellites were no limit. I was just doing really well, so I played the second event, which was the $2500 limit event and I came in third. I only came in third because I took a really bad beat against someone that hit a runner, runner flush against me. I still remember it too, he had K9 of clubs, I still remember what his hand was. Otherwise I would have come in second or first because I would have knocked him out.

So I came in third in that and then he was like, ‘ok you should play in the Main Event.' I was thinking I don't even know how to play no limit, I've just been playing these little satellites. So, he suggested playing some of the super satellites to get practice as well as the next no limit tournament.

I played in the no limit tournament and didn't do very well, but I did satellite my way in so it was fine. I played super satellites and I won two of the ones I played. After buy-in's and everything I ended up plus $3500 and a seat in the Main Event.

KL: How did that go?

Annie: By the end of the first day I was in like 35th place and I didn't think too much of it. I came back the next day and it was only like a three day tournament back then. We get down to like four tables and I'm one of the chip leaders. I had $95,000 in chips, which shows you how few people played back then, and I raise on the button with two kings for $5000 and the guy with $65,000 moves all in with A-3 and I call and the door card was an ace. So I end up with $30,000.

That was one of those aggravating things where if he had just made it $20,000, which would have made more sense, I would have moved in on him and he could have saved his money. So I limped into the money and I came in like 26th or something. I came away from that with almost $70,000. My brother suggested that I move out to Vegas and that was how it all started.

KL: How do you handle your emotions at the table?

Annie: There are two important things in poker. One of the things is that you have to take your emotions out of it. When you make a decision you are always going to make a better decision when emotions aren't involved and when physiology isn't involved. The thing is that when men are sitting at the table with you, they tend to get their emotions involved in the situation. So, that makes them play poorly. Likewise when you have your emotions involved then you will play poorly as well, because you won't be making good decisions. You have to take your ego out of it. You have to just not care what people think about you. You have to not care how people are going to perceive you except when you are trying to manage your table image.

If part of your table image is that you want people to think you are an excellent player, and you are really good, so people are scared of you that's ok, then you can go that way. You can also have a table image like Gus Hansen where everybody thinks he is literally insane and they are afraid of him for that reason, they know he is capable of doing anything, they actually think he is crazy. There are lots of different table images and you have to look at what you have going for you.

KL: Do you feel any added pressure now that you are a recognized and respected name in the poker world?

Annie: No, I don't. I feel a lot of less pressure. Obviously I always want to win, and I am always going to be playing like that. I feel like I was so completely in the right place at the right time, and that's probably the luckiest thing that's ever happened to me. Because as the poker boom became huge, here I was the leading female money winner at the World Series, I won the first Tournament of Champions, won my bracelet on TV, did ok in last years two years at the World Series.

Whatever happens from here on out, if I retire today, nobody can take those accomplishments away from me. I feel very comfortable with that. For me right now, I am so focused on my kids, and I am so focused on my business projects that poker for me right now is just totally a fun thing I do. If I do well at it, awesome, I'm always trying to play my best and do well at it.

Right now, though, my kids are so much more important to me. Yes I want to win the Main Event at the WSOP, but if I don't, it's ok. I've done so much with my poker life and I've done so much with raising my children, fulfilling myself in so many different ways. I feel like I'm so lucky to be in the right place at the right time to get the kind of laurels that you needed to be recognized as a good player and now, all of that has afforded me all of this time with my kids. So I feel that I have accomplished what I want to accomplish, putting myself in a position where I could just totally hang out with my kids.

KL: How often do you play online?

Annie: I play a lot on Ultimate Bet. I play a variety of games, I usually play pretty small. I don't play higher than 30/60 and I play mostly Omaha 8 or better, hold'em and H.O.R.S.E. I usually play the Sunday $200 tournament, but I don't really play any other tournaments online. I play the elimination blackjack all the time. I play blackjack tournaments about five times a week and then I play sit n go's.

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