Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Annie & Bub

As I was flipping through television stations last night, I was pleasantly suprised to see the 2004 Poker Tournament of Champions was being replayed on ESPN2. Back in September, the ten best poker players in the world assembled to compete for a top prize of $2 million. All the household names were there - Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, T.J. Cloutier, Greg Raymer, Phil Ivey.

It took an hour and half, but they finally got down to the final three. Phil Helmuth, who incidentally comes off as an asshole, made it down to the last three. The other two left were Howard and his sister Annie Duke. I've always been intrigued by the story of "Bub", as Howard is nicknamed, taught Annie how to play at a young age. They used to call him Bubba because years ago he weighed over 400 points. Since his weight loss, they've shortened it to simply Bub. Howard and Annie would spend countless hours playing poker at their parents' house in Connecticut. At first, Howard would always beat Annie. But as time went by, Annie improved and catapulted herself to the top of the poker world. Last year, she became famous by training actor Ben Affleck to compete in a high stakes poker tournament.

Back to the game last night. As time went by, Howard was losing his chips little by little. He'd keep on having to make big bets in order to stay alive. A couple of times he'd initially make a large raise, only to succumb to Annie's re-raise. You could tell Annie was hurt by having to pilfer her brother's dwindling chip stack. Finally, Howard got a hand that he could go all-in on. He had pocket 7's. With her own pocket 6's, Annie had to call the raise. When the flop was revealed, devastation was painted on both of their faces. The flop was a QQ6. That gave Annie, the underdog before the flop, a full house. The next two cards provided no help for Howard. With tears in her eyes, Annie got up and hugged her older brother. The scene was more touching than anything I've seen in my years of poker. She was heartbroken to have taken her "Bub" out in such fashion. But that's how poker goes.

Howard was gracious as usual. That's what I love about the man. Unlike many poker players who are obnoxious and insult other players, Howard takes his losses like a man. I can tell that he's a true gentleman. He's certainly among the very best players in the world today. Unfortunately, he has a way of getting unlucky at the worst times. Howard knows that he cannot win every hand. Still, it's tough to lose the way he did last night. His intelligent style will eventually help him reach the pinnacle of the poker world.

The last two standing were Helmuth and Annie Duke. Duke, a psychology major, got under Helmuth's skin. On one occasion, she raised big with two pair, Kings and Nines. Helmuth had the over pair as well (the Cowboys), but lacked the two pair. Helmuth eventually folded. Duke revealed only one of her cards, the nine. Phil was incredulous that he folded to the middle pair. Little did he know that the card Annie mucked was the king, which trumped Phil's one pair. When Phil finally lost the game, he left the table cursing and second guessing.

The scene was contrasted by the heartwarming site of Annie calling her Bub to inform him of her victory. The pride Howard feels for his younger sis resonates through the television set. Annie won a prize that Howard could only dream of winning. Still, Howard was gracious and lives to play another day and make more intermediate level poker tutorials.

Congrats to Annie and Bub, a true poker tandem to be admired.


Post a Comment

<< Home