Despite being retired for nearly a decade, until very recently, Annie was the world’s winningest female poker player. In 2004, she bested a field of 234 players to win her first World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet. The same year, she triumphed in the $2 million winner-take-all, invitation-only WSOP Tournament of Champions. Prior to becoming a professional poker player, Annie was awarded the National Science Foundation Fellowship. Through this fellowship, she studied Cognitive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, which eventually led to her current book, Thinking In Bets, which combines her academic studies with real-life decision making experiences at the poker table. Recorded on 03/06/2018. Series: “Innovator Stories: Creating Something from Nothing”
Well I was really lucky because my brother had already taken all the hope out of them. So you laugh. So here's my brother who's a very accomplished poker player. So here's what happened. My brother in high school got into Columbia and he went off to New York but she actually decided who's going to defer a year. He was very very into chess. He loved chess. So he found the grandmaster that he was going to study chess with in New York for one year and then he was going to go to Columbia and while he was there he started playing poker. And just for fun or did he. Well kite kind of starting just for fun I mean that thing. So all the games are all sort of intertwined and you know the people who did play chess and back him and in poker they're all sort of hung out with each other in New York so he got sort of you know wrapped into poker and initially he was really bad and he actually had a 63 hundred dollar college fund from my grandfather that he probably knew. But the good news is he figured out that he could get better. So this was his. Actually I'll tell you what his revolution was that started him on his way. This game that he started off playing in would run for 72 hours. So it would start on Friday night and it would end sometime early Monday morning. So it's painful. I know. But they would all play for the whole 72 hours.
So my brother when he first started playing would play for the whole 72 hours and one day it dawned on him. Hold on a second. I could play for like 10 hours and then go sleep and then come back and play again and then go sleep and then come back and play again. So I could play three times where I'm fresh off three times. Against all of these people who have been playing for 72 hours with alcohol involved and that he actually actually the game ended up disbanding because he made so much money from just that strategy. But he started studying why didn't they outlaw him. Well you don't really I think it's up for the table. What is your role now. So threw that he actually ended up falling in with this really amazing accomplished group of poker players so they were all very young and they were just skirting around so they hadn't necessarily had the accomplishments yet but included people like Eric Sydell who is an amazing poker player a guy named Dan Harrington who's a world champion as well. Just this incredible group Jason Lester was another guy in the group. And just to give you an idea Eric Sidel alone has made 38 million dollars in tournament poker so she fell in with a really good group he started studying. After that initial you know I lost my college fund. Oh and by the way I'm not going to go to Columbia because I'm really into this whole poker thing. He ended up actually becoming really great and by 23 had made the final table the World Series of Poker. See that was early though.
So you tell this audience that there are like you of course you can make money in poker. He was pretty early on this thing. This was nobody. Poker was not a thing. It was not on television right. Right. So I come along at ten years after he started playing. So my parents. That's why I said my parents go and to given up all hope and dreams for their children at that point. But my brother had already shown them that you can actually make a living playing poker which you wouldn't have known right then because it didn't it didn't sort of explode all over the television until right around 2003 2004. And this my brother started playing in 1980 too. So this was really way before it was a thing that people thought of as anything besides something that Brody a degenerate would do right. And then when I started playing I declare I started really 94 as a pro. Even then you know people would ask me what I did. And I would say well I'm a rational poker player and they would usually the next question would be what does your husband do. And I I feel like first of all why is that relevant. But second of all my husband actually was a househusband. So you know I mean he did he he had some other stuff that I was actually mainly the financial support. Amazing father. I just want to say that no really and he really is. I'm very lucky to have him as a father of my children.
So he but a way they would say it was your husband do and I'd be like well no not that I mean he helps take care of the kids and then they would ask me if I inherited money but then they're really worried for you it's very great. Oh you're just rich you know. No I have no trust fund. And then it would use a lot of times they would say late. Have you thought about gambler. Gamblers Anonymous. My gosh. I mean literally they just wouldn't believe that this was something they'd asked me if I was a dealer do do deal cards in L.A. anyway.