Mom Shuffles Kids And Cards

The hands of a card dealer are blurred as she deals a table game AP

In many ways, Annie Duke is just like any other working mom.

Her mornings are busy with her four children and her husband, Ben. But Annie's job is anything but typical.

The Early Show correspondent Melinda Murphy spent some time with Duke, who is a professional poker player.

"I gotta go play poker, sweetie," she tells her son as she gets in her car to go to work. While she's at work at the table, a Kenny Rogers song, "The Gambler," plays in the background: "You've got to know when to hold 'em, when to fold 'em."

And, oh, does Annie know when to hold 'em.

Tournament assistant Jody Ivener says, "Annie is one of the best woman players in the world right now. Anyone can get lucky on any given day. But I believe that Annie will always be in the top 20. She's just a very tough player."

Being tough certainly pays off.

Annie says, "My gross in the last month is over $150,000."

On her best day, Annie took home $300,000. On her worst, she lost $110,000. But all told, she makes a very nice living for the family.

Annie says, "Most people are gambling a lot more when they put their money in the stock market than I am when I put my money on the poker table."

So she looks at investing as no more of a gamble than her job. She also took a gamble on love.

Her husband Ben says, "We were just telephone friends for a year before she proposed." The couple had not been romantically involved before she proposed. "Never really even kissed," Ben adds.

Ben called her bluff and they were married. Of course, at the time, Annie was getting her PhD in psycholinguistics. But she was miserable.

That's when she decided to follow in the footsteps of her world-class poker-player brother.

She says she learned how to play from her brother, Howard Lederer. "Almost everything I know about poker is a direct result of him."

The two grew up playing cards as kids, something Annie doesn't encourage in her own family. Of playing cards, her son Leo says, "We don't have any."

But Leo does know it's dad who gets him and his three siblings dressed in the morning. Ben drives them to school and takes the little ones out for a breakfast of Vietnamese food. That's not your typical breakfast. And Annie's not your typical poker player.

She says, "Poker is one of the only sports where a woman can compete on a totally equal footing with a man, so I don't understand why there's a ladies only tournament."

Annie plays with the men. What do they think about that?

Poker player Jesus, as he is known, says, "It doesn't bother me, but I think it does bother some men and I think women can take advantage of that.

Jesus has a PhD in computer science and is one of the top players in the world.


Of course, some of the old timers like Amarillo Slim don't cotton to the gals.

He says, "This is the only place where I can beat a woman and not get thrown in jail so I'm elated. Women can do a lot of things we can't do, but I'm not real enthused about lady poker players."

It's that kind of thinking that Annie uses to her advantage. Her woman's intuition helps her play against the men. "I think women are better readers in general, I actually do," she says. "I think men find women hard to read and women don't find men hard to read."

But not every day is a winner. The day CBS was with her, she lost, but she wasn't upset.

Annie says, "I'm happy with the way I played so..." Another day at the office? She says, "Yeah. Exactly!"

Annie came in 47th - the top woman competing in last month's World Series of poker. But she stresses that, above all, her kids come first. If there's a choice between a school play or a big poker tournament, the school play always wins.
  • Tatiana Morales

Comments