Annie Duke Reveals How She Beat The Big Boys At Poker

Annie Duke Reveals How She Beat The Big Boys At PokerAnnie Duke is currently placed number three on the ‘Women’s All Time Money List‘ with $4,270,548 in winnings, $2 million of which came courtesy of her 2004 Tournament of Champions victory in Las Vegas. That year, she also captured a WSOP bracelet after taking down the $3,000 Omaha High-Low 8/OB event for $137,860, and in 2010 she also won the NBC National Heads-Up Championship for $500,000. In 2011, Duke was subsequently inducted into the Women’s Poker Hall of Fame, which also appears to mark the end of her live tournament career, with the 50 year-old pro now not having cashed in a tournament in over four years.
In a revealing interview with NPR science correspondent Shankar Vedantam last month, Annie Duke gave some insights into what made her such a formidable player at the time, one tactic of which involved using her gender to wrong foot her opponents. Elaborating on a term referred to by Vedantam as “stereotype tax”, Duke explains:
“I figured it was part of the game that if somebody was at the table who was so emotionally invested in the fact that I was a woman, that they could treat me that way, that probably, that person wasn’t going to make good decisions at the table against me. So I really tried to sort of separate that out and think about it from a strategic place of, how can I come up with the best strategy to take their money because I guess, in the end, isn’t that the best revenge?”
She was subsequently able to separate such men into three basic categories, and devise tactics to beat them at the tables. For ‘flirting chauvinists’ this involved flirting back at them to gain an edge; while ‘disrespecting chauvinist’ could be bluffed often; while ‘angry chauvinist’ could rarely be bluffed at all, and so required patience to overcome.
I guess Phil Hellmuth must have fallen into the ‘flirting chauvinists’ camp, as the example used in the article was her final heads-up encounter against Hellmuth at the 2004 Tournament of Champions, and as Vedantam explains:
“You could argue that this little-old-me act really did a number on Phil Hellmuth.. He just did not know what to make of Annie.. Annie keeps the charm turned up.. Phil thought Annie was bluffing. In fact, he thought that she’d been bluffing a lot.”
Ending the intriguing article about how a female ‘outsider’ can gain an advantage over her male competitors at the tables, Vedantam concludes:
“And who maybe wasn’t even supposed to be at the table. But precisely because Annie Duke knew how stereotypes can be both a threat and an advantage.”

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