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Home > Poker Pros > Articles > Annie Duke > 001

Articles - Annie Duke

Poker, Aruba, and Human Nature-
by Annie Duke

Did you ever imagine that poker would move beyond Friday night home games and catapult into the mainstream as quickly as it has recently? That our fellow professionals would be called daily for interviews and charity events, and to be pitched new business ideas? That our “how-to” books would be re-released to ride the wave of the sudden interest in our game by the masses? That we’d get, “Can I have your autograph?” when we’re just out shopping for groceries with our kids?

Now, I’m not a household name, by any means, but I’ve certainly had my share of publicity lately. I recently moved to Portland and was even asked for my autograph during the house closing. The agent couldn’t wait to get home to tell her husband she had met a professional poker player – and one she’d seen on television! How often did something like that happen in the past? Much of this whirlwind can be attributed to the World Poker Tour (WPT). These days it isn’t uncommon at all for me to get on an elevator and hear people talking about the previous night’s show on the Travel Channel. Even though the WPT has already begun taping its second season, I am continually amazed at the reach this show has.

This rise in popularity is certainly to the benefit of everyone in our industry, but especially to the charter members of the World Poker Tour. I have the unique perspective of seeing these benefits, not only from a professional poker player’s standpoint (after all, we certainly can’t complain about having new blood in the games!), but also from the perspective of one of the WPT charter members. As a consultant to, I see the daily interest in their Ultimate Poker Classic II, the tournament the WPT will cover in Aruba Oct. 13-20, growing by leaps and bounds. UltimateBet went from holding two weekly supersatellites online for a trip to Aruba and a seat into their $4,100 buy-in event to holding them daily. They went from giving away two or three Aruba prize packages each week to giving away more than 30. They went from guaranteeing a $500,000 prize pool to guaranteeing a $1 million prize pool, and now they expect it to reach $1.5 million! Certainly, this growth has been caused in part by the WPT shows airing on the Travel Channel. But, I think human nature also plays a role. After all, when people realize an offer is going to go away, what do they do? They hurry to take advantage. That is what is happening at UltimateBet right now. The $1 million guaranteed prize pool is attractive. The free trip to Aruba is attractive. And the free $4,100 seat in the Ultimate Poker Classic II definitely holds appeal. However, the last chance for someone to win a trip to Aruba and the $4,100 tournament buy-in is Sept. 14, 2003, so no one wants to be left out! And, I think people are just now realizing that other benefits come from winning their trip online. UltimateBet has sweetened the pot for their online winners and for anyone who just buys in to the event before Sept. 15. They have eight gold bracelet events that only Aruba winners or people who buy in before Sept. 15 can participate in. These events start online and finish in Aruba. The final table of each event pays out $2,000 and the winner will receive a special gold bracelet. Eligible players can play in any and all of these events to demonstrate their skills in limit, pot-limit, and no-limit hold’em; limit and pot-limit Omaha eight-or-better; seven-card stud; seven-card stud eight-or-better; and pot-limit Omaha. Other benefits to winning online or buying in before Sept. 15 include the ability to participate in UltimateBet’s Beach Olympics on the white sandy beaches in Aruba (where else could you see Russ Hamilton and Phil Hellmuth doing the cantaloupe cuddle?), receive an invitation to their catered parties, and much more. It’s not something to miss, that’s for sure.

Not only did I have a great time participating in UltimateBet’s event last year, I’m really looking forward to heading for Aruba once again. (I recommend the ATV Island tours if you’re going!) And, I think I can speak for UltimateBet’s current and future Aruba winners, too, when I say that this is really a trip of a lifetime!

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