Born and raised in Concord, New Hampshire, Annie Duke grew up in a family who had cards and competition in the blood. In a home where card playing was the glue that held the family together, everybody not only wanted to win but needed to win. And this spirit of competition has never abandoned them even when games progressed to the internet and online casinos and poker rooms became a reality.
Early in her childhood, Duke struggled to fit in as a liberal product of two teachers in a sea of conservatism and privilege on the grounds of the prestigious St. Paul's prep school. Never feeling like she quite fit in, at the age of 18, Duke matriculated at Columbia University and thought to try her luck in the big city.
Pretty, smart and popular, Duke completed a major in English and Psychology at Columbia University intending to follow in the footsteps of her parents and becoming a teacher. Instead, she enrolled as a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania for Cognitive Psychology.
In 1991, while Duke was knee deep in doctorate research, she proposed marriage to an old friend, Ben Duke, packed up her life and research and left academia behind for Billings, CO. Living in romantic poverty with her husband, Duke began to play poker in local poker rooms to pay the mortgage on their first home.
In 1994, at the suggestion of her brother, famed poker player Howard Lederer, Duke tried her hand at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. She ended up placing 13th in her first tournament, knocking her brother out of play. After winning 70K in her first month of competition, Duke and her husband made the move to Las Vegas so she could pursue poker professionally.
Over the course of the next decade, Duke established herself as one of the best poker players in the world. In 2004, Duke beat out an assembly of 234 players in the WSOP $2000 buy-in Omaha Hi/Lo Split and won her first WSOP bracelet. In August of the same year, Duke knocked out 8 of the worlds' greatest poker legends and won $2 million in the No-Limit Texas Hold'em winner-take-all, invitation-only WSOP Tournament of Champions, established by ESPN and Harrah's Entertainment.
In October of 2005, Annie decided to try a game other than poker when she played in her first-ever blackjack tournament. She had a great time, and met some stars in a new game to make her gambling profile more well-rounded.
In 2010, Duke won the National Heads-Up Poker Championship. In a field of 64 top-ranked players, Duke defeated in order: Andy Bloch, Darvin Moon, Paul Wasicka, Jerry Yang, Dennis Phillips and Erik Seidel.
Up until 12/30/2010, when she and Phil Hellmuth announced their departure, Duke was an UltimateBet Cardroom Consultant and a member of Team UB. She served as a consultant to ensure that the poker room rules of poker and tournament structure matched those you would have found in the famous poker rooms of the Las Vegas strip. But she is still sought after for her vast poker skills and knowledge, coaching the likes of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon on their poker game.
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. She also has a blog where she writes about her experiences in many live and online casinos. In 2005, Duke penned her autobiography, How I Raised, Folded, Bluffed, Flirted, Cursed, and Won Millions at The World Series of Poker.
Written in conjunction with David Diamond, the autobiography weaves the struggles of Annie's life side-by-side with her struggles to achieve her first WSOP bracelet. She also worked with NBC to develop and produce a sitcom based on her life as a single mother of four who plays professional poker. While doing all this, she still enjoyed a successful family life raising her four children: Maud, Leo, Lucy and Nelly.