Annie Duke, who is known as the "Duchess of Poker," is considered one of the best poker players in the world. And now she's known for butting heads with the women on the second season of Celebrity Apprentice.
Duke was born on September 13, 1965 and raised in Concord, New Hampshire. Her father, Richard Lederer, a well-known writer and linguist, taught English at the elite St. Paul's School for 27 years. She has a sister, Katy, who is an author and poet, and a brother, Howard, who is also a professional poker player. Annie graduated from St. Paul's and went to Columbia University where she majored in Psychology and English. She had planned to become a teacher but instead enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania for Cognitive Psychology, where she studied psycholinguistics. She ended up dropping out before graduating with her PhD, got married to a longtime friend, Ben Duke, and moved to Montana. They had four children together between 1995 and 2002.
It was at the urging of her brother – a two-time World Poker Champion himself - that she began playing poker. She started playing at a bar called the Crystal Lounge in Billings, Montana. For a year, Duke played regularly at the Crystal Lounge, which had a legalized poker room downstairs. In 1994, she entered four tournaments in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, and walked away with $70,000.
This event would kick-start her career. She and her husband moved to Las Vegas and she began playing high-stakes poker. By 2004, after a decade of moderate success, Annie beat 234 players in the World Series of Poker $2,000 buy-in Omaha Hi/Lo Split, winning her first WSOP bracelet. She also tutored actor Ben Affleck, who went on to win the California State Poker Championship.
That same year, Duke won an invitation-only World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions event, beating out eight of the world's best players, including her brother, and taking home the $2 million purse. That was the largest prize ever claimed by a female at the time. She has won over $3 million in WSOP events since 1994. Today she is a teacher for the WSOP Poker Academy poker school.
In 2000, Duke became a consultant and spokesperson for the online poker site UltimateBet.net and has appeared as a coach on Fox Sports Network's Best Damn Sports Show, which is sponsored by the site. She wrote her autobiography, Annie Duke: How I Raised, Folded, Bluffed, Flirted, Cursed and Won Millions at the World Series of Poker, which was released in September 2005. She also has a series of DVD's on the market, including "Annie Duke's Advanced Texas Hold 'em Secrets: How to Beat the Big Boys" and "Annie Duke's Beginner's Guide to Texas Hold 'em."
Annie has also made guest appearances on several television shows, including 1 vs. 100, The Colbert Report, Deal or No Deal, and Celebrity Apprentice. She also appeared in a television special, Annie Duke Takes On the World, which featured her playing against amateur poker players.
In 2004, she and her Ben divorced and she moved to Los Angeles, California with her four children the following year. She is currently involved with actor/producer Joe Reitman.
In 2010, Annie won the National Heads Up Poker Championship. She beat out 64 other top-ranked competitors to win. In July 2011, Epic Poker League, the brainchild of Duke and former Commissioner of the World Series of Poker Jeffrey Pollack, announced a broadcast deal with CBS and Discovery Network that will give professional poker a combined 20 hours of programming including prime slots on the weekend sports television schedule for CBS. She has also played in and hosted several charitable poker tournaments to raise money for charities like the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Boston Children's Hospital and Walter Reed Army Medical Center.