Sunday, October 17, 2004

Dissin' the Duke

I'm hard at work clearing my 50% deposit bonus at UltimateBet and winning while I'm at it. Today though I don't want to write about my play, instead I want to briefly discuss Annie Duke.

I believed, as I think many online players did, that Annie Duke was a big cry baby. Her comments as quoted by ESPN after she busted out of the WSOP championship were that of someone trying to make excuses for her lack of ability and over inflated ego. It also appeared, to me at least, that she thought she was better than all other female players and that playing in an all female tournament would be too demeaning for her. The "chip on her shoulder" indeed seemed large and only growing larger.

Then came the Tournament Of Champions event. Did Annie Duke deserve to be in the tournament? no. She herself said she probably didn't have a shot of winning it. ESPN was putting her in the event as the token female player and there were no expectations. Of course she went on to win it and during this event I noticed something that began to change my attitude toward her. She was extremely lucky in a few of the hands we saw on television and it was these hands which helped propel her toward her eventual win. Without this luck she was definitely not the best player at the table. She honestly admitted to this in the post tourney interview so that helped here cause. Also when she was heads up, she became the best player at the table. No doubt, Phil's an excellent player. She played tremendously against him and knew exactly what buttons to push to win the psychological war between them. His massive tilt session afterwards will, I'm sure, go down in history as one of the best.

This event in itself didn't change my thinking to much but when combined with her interviews afterwards, I started to see her in a different light. I was able to read several interviews where the lack of her appearances in all female events were explained. She referred directly to the WSOP Ladies event and listed her reason for not playing in it to be because the event didn't pay as much as the other event running at the time. I can't fault anyone for looking at the big financial picture. She also said she supported the womens events but that she is looking to make her presence known in the major events and that's were she needs to focus. Again, I can't fault her logic.

This leads me to the WPT Poker Corner broadcast this last week. I had recorded it and just watched it last night. While it was a fluff piece designed to give the WPT more air time I have to say that Annie impressed me. I'm not a professional player, for do I profess to be, but her "analysis" of play, as opposed to Daniel or Phil's, seemed to be more to the way I would have looked at the events. She was passionate about her "reads" and more than willing to defend her point of view. Daniel came off as a color commentator you'd see on ESPN and Phil was trying to distance himself from everything Annie said while trying to align himself with Negreanu's thinking. Annie was clearly not getting any respect from either of these players and Mike Sexton appeared to pick this up and offered Annie words of encouragement in form of agreement on several occasions.

After taking all to this into consideration I have to say I see where the "chip on her shoulder" comes from. It's clear that women, or at least Annie Duke, are not getting the full respect of the current players and I hope that changes soon. I for one am willing to say I was wrong, and Annie, you've got my respect.