Annies Not Such a Celebrity Apprentice

March 26, 2012, Posted by Jeff.Kimber

Annies Not Such a Celebrity Apprentice

Anyone turning into BBC1 late night over the past couple of weeks will have enjoyed seeing the American version of Celebrity Apprentice, featuring a motley crew of famous Yanks with varying degrees of fame.

The line-up included one of my all-time heroes, Dennis Rodman, the former bad boy of the NBA, along with comedienne Joan Rivers, a Kardashian and a Playboy Playmate.

While trying to work out who the rest of the gang were, who should pop up but poker player (or poker ‘champion’ as she seems to prefer being called) Annie Duke.

I’m not Duke’s biggest fan. In fact, while not agreeing with everything Daniel Negreanu says, I don’t think he got it far wrong when he famously summed up Duke in one four-letter word.

Having her on Celebrity Apprentice would be frustrating for me, as the basic idea is the celebs are raising money for charity, and of course Annie can call on any number of poker players to help her out when money needs to be raised and therefore perform well.

Sure enough, right from episode one, when she persuaded Erik Seidel to rock up and pay $5000 for a cupcake, Duke seemed to be winning favour, helping her team to victory and raising the most money for charity.

Fast forward a few episodes though, and it seemed Duke’s cover was blown.

Joan Rivers, who had been her teammate most of the ride, seemed to have seen through the façade.

In a fantastic tirade she let her feelings be known on the poker player, calling her a “snake”, a “conniver” “totally two-faced” “a despicable human being” and someone she’s “disliked the moment I met her”.

Duke being on the show at all seems a bit of a joke given her record in business.

Having giving up her patronage of Ultimate Bet, the poker company that went bust owing players millions of dollars (hi there UB, can I have my $10k please?), she moved on to the Epic Poker League, which so far has managed three events under her Commissionership before filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy.

I’d never had much opinion on Duke having seen her play on TV, but when I first ran into her at a table, things were different.

I’ve played with every big name in the game, and bar Phil Hellmuth, who went on his ‘idiots from northern Europe’ rant, it seems the more famous and better players carry themselves with the most class at the table.

After all, if you’re confident in your standing as a superstar, you don’t have the need to go round reminding everyone. Then there’s Annie Duke…

It was day two of the 2010 LA Poker Classic and I was seated two to Duke’s left on a long, frustrating day.

As in most of the better run tournaments, the day doesn’t end when you reach zero on the clock, there’s a draw for a certain number of hands with 10 or 15 minutes remaining in the last level.

With about 10 minutes on the clock, I was sat watching a hand play out on my table when it was announces “Finish the hand you’re on and play five more hands”.

This happened as our dealer was counting out how much an allin was, and pushing the pot as halfway through the count the opposing player mucked his hand.

The dealer started to wash the cards and the floor man said again, finished the hand your on and five more hands.

As the previous pot was being shipped and five more was announced, I’d already counted in my head and was pleasantly surprised to see I’d finish under the gun and not have to post another big blind.

“Five more hands” said the dealer as he started dealing. “Hang on, it’s five more after this hand,” barked Duke. “Okay,” said the dealer and carried on.

“Excuse me,” I said. “It’s not five more after this hand, we were still playing the last hand when it was announced, therefore this is hand one of the five.”

“No honey, you’re wrong,” said the patronizing ‘star’, “It’s five more after this,” and the hand continued.

The hand continued until the action was on me.

“Get the floor please,” I said to the dealer. “It’s definitely five more but we can get the floor if you want,” said Duke. “I wasn’t asking you,” I replied. “Dealer, get the floor.”

When the floor came Annie went into overdrive. “You said it’s five more hands after the one we’re playing and he was dealing when you said that so five more after this right,” she told the floor man.

The dealer said nothing. “Sure,” said the floor man. Excellent decision, really listened to all the facts and made an unbiased decision.

I couldn’t be bothered to argue, but ever since I have seen all of the traits Joan Rivers seemed to notice when they were trying to impress Donald Trump, the fake laugh, the bending of rules, the not caring who she stepped on to get to the top.

In the end I think Rivers went slightly too far when she compared Annie Duke to Hitler. I mean, Hitler wasn’t all bad was he.

  • The Celebrity Apprentice is still available to watch on BBC iPlayer if you missed it.

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