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Best of John G. Brokopp

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Tournament Win a Double-Edged Sword for Annie Duke

16 February 2005

If you saw the $2 Million Tournament of Champions Texas Hold 'em Poker shootout on television, you are already aware of the drama that surrounded Annie Duke's victory: She had to knock her own brother, Howard Lederer, out of the tournament in order to earn her first gold bracelet, the most coveted prize among professional poker players; and she didn't even have the best hand!

No matter how pretty poker is packaged, the game is still won and lost on principles guided by deceit and greed. There can be no weakness in your method of attack, no mercy shown to your opponents. The object is to beat 'em any way you can and take all of their money.

The consummate professional that she is, Annie Duke went into the Tournament of Champions fully aware of that even with her brother at the table. It was only after she had accomplished her goal, however, that the stark reality of the situation set in and she had to set free the intense emotions that had welled up inside her.

"From the standpoint of being a sister and not a poker player, I was extremely upset at having knocked my brother out," Duke said. "I make no excuses for the fact that as a poker player I was ecstatic that he was gone from that tournament because he was not the person I wanted to playing heads-up. I knew where my best chance was and I knew it was against Phil Helmuth. Phil's an amazing player, but quite frankly in my opinion my brother's better.

"As a sister, I said, 'Oh my gosh, I just yanked $2 million dollars away my brother and mentor when I didn't even have the best hand!' That was very, very hard for me. I had to go into the hallway for about 15 minutes to pull myself together. When I was playing that hand my whole goal was to knock him out. I reached my goal but it came at the expense of my brother. But when I walked back in I was thankful he was not the one that I was playing against for the championship."

The championship bracelet meant a lot to Duke, who had come close but never won a title before.

"There was always this kind of knock on me that 'Ya, she's really good and she makes a lot of money but she can't win. She can't close it'. I didn't have a bracelet, which was always a monkey that I really felt on my back and I felt it very keenly. That's a really hard thing because for a poker player, the bracelet is really like a Super Bowl ring. It's the championship that you want.

"When I won I had a grin on my face that you couldn't wipe off for days afterwards. I went out to celebrate with about 40 people at the Bellagio. I think the celebration alone cost me about $4,500! Every 10 minutes I kept walking up to someone saying: 'I won!' The Tournament of Champions was a very important win for me and nothing's ever going to compare with it."

For all the hard work and tears she paid to earn it, just where is the bracelet?

"The bracelet is on my beautiful built-in bookshelf in my living room at home," Annie revealed. "It sure is never going to be on my wrist because it's not particularly nice looking. I would have preferred something more dainty I guess."

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp