The world of poker draws people of all walks of life to its ranks. It is one of the only fields in which your past means absolutely nothing. With poker, the only thing that matters is your winnings. It is one of truest meritocracies, and because of that, attracts successful business men with the same frequency as it does housewives. Over the years, anyone who has enjoyed watching poker coverage on the various networks has been treated to a number of individuals that have seemed, well, unlikely to be considered a professional gambler.
That is not to say that it is a surprise that these players have been successful, but rather that it a surprise that they are professionals in the first place. Before poker received the coverage that is has today, the general consensus of the image of the professional gambler was that of either George Clooney or Brad Pitt from Oceans 11. The reality could not be farther from the truth. Below is a list of just a few poker professionals that don’t fit the traditional image.
Annie Duke is one of the most accomplished female poker players of all time. She started playing in Montana after leaving graduate school in the early 1990’s. Around that time, she also got married and started a family. Today, she is single again, and has four children. She became a public figure in early 2004 after tutoring Ben Affleck in Poker. He would go on to win the California State Poker Championship. Her brother is fellow poker professional Howard Lederer.
Nothing breaks the George Clooney mold like a female French chess player that is the daughter of a Ukranian father and an Armenian mother. Almira has won many awards for chess throughout her life, but only starting getting involved in poker in the last five years or so. Granted, she is still technically a part time professional, but her earnings in this short period of time have exceeded $250,000.
Annette is a Norwegian who holds the distinction of being the youngest person to win a WSOP bracelet. She made her mark playing online poker when she was 15 years old. Even more interesting, she never deposited money into an account with these online sites, but rather bankrolled her playing by winning freeroll tournaments. In just her first year of playing, she won over $500,000 through PokerStars, $200,000 through UltimateBet, and $135,000 through Full Tilt Poker. She is currently signed with Lock Poker.
Sometimes, it isn’t where someone is from that makes them unique, it is the road they take to get there that is. With Erica, much of her childhood was spent at the track with her dad. She eventually went to college and even tried some odd jobs along the way after school, but nothing stuck. That is, until she found herself playing in a blackjack tournament. Gambling was back in her life, and the rest was history.
While some people don’t find their calling until later in life, sometimes you know by the time you are 13. With Liz, who moved to the United States from Vietnam was she was a baby, that is definitely the case. She was introduced to poker when she was 13 and it instantly took hold of her. Not only is she fiercely competitive, but she is also altruistic. Since 2005, she has donated 20% of her tournament winnings to charity.