Annie Duke has leveraged her expertise in the science of smart decision making to excel at pursuits as varied as championship poker, public speaking, teaching, philanthropy and parenting.
For two decades, Annie was one of the top poker players in the world, winning several championships during her career. Annie started playing poker at the suggestion of her brother, world champion poker player Howard Lederer. Over the course of a 20-year career, she established herself as one of the top players in the male-dominated game. In 2004, she bested a field of 234 players to win her first WSOP bracelet. The same year, she triumphed in the $2 million winner-take-all, invitation only WSOP Tournament of Champions. In 2010, she won the prestigious NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship, beating poker legend Erik Seidel in the finals.
Prior to choosing poker as a career, Annie Duke was a was awarded a National Science Foundation Fellowship to study Cognitive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania after graduating with a double major in English and Psychology from Columbia University.
Marrying her academic studies in cognitive psychology with decision making lessons gained through her experience at the poker table, Annie Duke has developed a series of inspirational and educational talks on topics such as decision fitness, emotional control, evaluation of feedback, Prospect Theory, and negotiation tactics. Her deft application of decision science concepts to a wide range of real-world situations spanning both personal and professional topics, coupled with an animated and personable presentation style, have resonated with a diverse range of audiences. She is a regularly sought-after public speaker, addressing thousands in keynote remarks at conferences such as the 2015 Investment Management Consultants Association in Las Vegas and the 2015 EnergySMART Conference in Philadelphia. She has been brought in to speak to the executive teams or sales forces of organizations like Gaylord Resorts, Pandora Radio and Ultimate Software, among many others. She is also a sought-after speaker in the financial sector, with clients such as CitiBank and MacQuarie Group.
Annie regularly shares her observations on decision making and critical thinking skills on her blog and has also shared her poker knowledge through a series of best-selling poker instruction and theory books, including Decide to Play Great Poker and The Middle Zone: Mastering the Most difficult Hands in Hold’em Poker (both co-authored with John Vorhaus).
Annie is also a master storyteller, having performed for The Moth, an organization that preserves the art of spoken word storytelling, appearing three times on The Moth Main Stage. One of her stories was selected by The Moth as one if their top 50 stories and featured in the organization’s first-ever book.
Her passion for making a difference has helped to raise millions for charities with causes as diverse as international refugees, victims of the conflicts in Sudan, improving education, and numerous children’s hospitals. In 2006, she founded Ante Up for Africa along with actor Don Cheadle and Norman Epstein. The organization raised more than $4,000,000 for Africans in need, with a focus on helping victims of the conflicts in Sudan. She also served on the board of The Decision Education Foundation (DEF) from 2007 to 2011. DEF develops decision making curricula for K through 12 students. In 2009, she appeared on NBC’s hit show Celebrity Apprentice, through which she helped raise $730,000 for Refugees International, a charity that advocates for refugees around the world. In October 2013, Annie became a board member for After School All-Stars. In 2014, Annie helped launch How I Decide, a nonprofit with the goal of helping young people develop the essential life skills of critical thinking and decision making.
Annie currently resides in the Philadelphia area where she is raising her four children.