By: Patricia Walters-Fischer RN
Annie Duke is someone you don’t want to face—at least, not across a poker table. This Ivy League graduate has not only dominated the casino tables in Vegas and across the US, she’s a fierce believer in family and fitness.
After moving to Colorado in 1991, with her then husband, Ben Duke, Annie and Ben began to play poker at local establishments to pay the mortgage on their home.
A few years later, her brother, famed poker player Howard Lederer, encouraged Annie to try her luck at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Not only did she place well (13th), she beat out her brother! During her first month of play, she won 70K. After that, she and Ben moved to Las Vegas where she could apursue the art of poker playing on a professional level.1
Fast forward several years and four babies later, Annie is going as strong as ever.
Even though her game is trying to beat the house, Annie stresses in her home, it’s about “family first”.
“I have flexibility because of what I do and that puts me at an advantage over someone who has to go to work from nine to five,” explains Annie to HMC. “I can pick and choose the time I have to spend time away from my children. If the kids are scheduled for a show, birthday, that rates high. Important events are never scheduled over that.”
Her ability to keep her schedule to her advantage is also aided by an amicable relationship with her ex-husband/father (Ben) of her children. “When we decided we were going to get divorced, we kept it civil. We knew it was about us and not the kids.”
Ben is very involved with the kids and has them 50% of the time. “He’s very accommodating to working with me, so I schedule my travel when they are gone with him.”
Annie has no problem keeping her day planner full. Her other than taking her kids to school, working out, being a consultant for UltimateBet.com, and writing, she has found the time to bring about awareness to one of the largest humanitarian crisis so far. Ante Up for Africa, started in 2007, was founded by Annie, award-winning actor, Don Cheadle, and Norman Epstine. “At the time of the Darfur (Sudan) event , there was not a lot of media coverage.”
Annie with Don Cheadle at Ante Up for Africa 2
(Photo Courtesy of UltimateBet.com)
Ante-Up for Africa bring awareness to the crisis in Darfur, Sudan. Starting in 2003, a tribal faction began killing thousands of people within their country. Later labeled genocide by the US government, the United Nations did not take an active stance until March 2007. By that time, it is estimated over 400,000 people have been slaughtered and close to 4 million had been displaced.
“Ante-Up for Africa works in two ways,” Annie tells us. “It gets medical supplies, food, and water to those who have been displaced by the riots.” She continues to explain that all those things are good, except “if there’s no change in the actual regime, there is no change for the people. You need political pressure, get our officials to make changes. Get congress to act. Put the two pieces of the puzzle together.” Since staring this tournament, over $2 million has been raised for Anti Up for Africa, but that’s not the only result. It has brought about change.
Companies have started pulling out of investing their money in areas of the Sudan and 22 states in the United States have passed laws from barring their pension funds from investing in companies that do business in the Sudan.2
During 2007-2008, approximately $2 million has been raised, but “in 2009, we expect to raise $2 million.”
A great family, a solid career, and famous friends, it may look like she’s got it all together, but don’t fret. She’s had her mom versus kid moments on more occasions than she can count.
“I’ve had my kids throw up on me, the regular stuff.” Although she does throw in, “once my daughter was about 4 (years old) and she wasn’t watching what she was doing and she ran into a cop. I told her to apologize and she gave this sassy ‘I’m sorry’.” Annie laughs. “I told him ‘I really am a good mother.’”
And one piece of advice Annie offers moms out there on our biggest flaws: Don’t be so judgmental of other moms.
“Listen, parenting is so difficult and there are no perfect ways to raise their kids.” She says. “You don’t really know how it’s going to turn out. Parenting is a real scary place because you’re making choices that affects that child for the rest of their lives. I’m not making the same mistakes that my parents made. I’m making other fantastic, creative mistakes.”
If you want to help with raising awareness with the Darfur crisis, you don’t have to play poker. Cool t-shirts are available for purchase as well as more information on how you help out.
And if you want to refine your poker skills ladies, check out Annie’s Book How I Raised, Folded, Bluffed, Flirted, Curesed and Won Millions at the World series of Poker
1. Annie Duke