Popping up regularly now on TV and in the Hollywood blogs, Annie Duke is no longer a Celebrity Apprentice — she’s a bona fide Hollywood star.
She certainly has impressive credentials: an educated and successful author who beat the odds to become a top-rank competitor in the cutthroat professional poker world. Combine that with a marriage to a successful film director, and it becomes easy to see how Annie has managed to pop into the celebrity class.
And though we’ve been hearing her name a lot more lately, her fame isn’t new. Three years ago, she was profiled in the New York Times. More recently, she’s wound up in the Chicago Sun-Times celebrity spotter column, her business advice has been sought out by USA Today, and her “feud” with Joan Rivers has been written about in the Los Angeles Times. She’s even been on The Colbert Report! In short, she’s all over the freakin’ place. She’s becoming one of those names that everyone knows. What other poker players can boast the same? (Seriously? Moneymaker, maybe? Any others?)
So the big question is, is this level of celebrity good for the game, and does it help those of us in the business of marketing to poker players?
Yes, I think. Annie’s popular in part because poker is so popular, and likable players like her help to make it even more popular — especially to people who normally may never have considered giving it a try.
More exposure for poker on places you wouldn’t normally expect — discussions of the Duke/Rivers feud on, say, The View — is going to lead to more new players seeking out the game, and that’s probably gonna be through Internet search engine, which gives affiliates the chance to reach those players first.
And then there’s the charity that Annie Duke and others like Jamie Gold bring to the poker world. In addition to just being good humanitarian things to do, the charity events are great for improving the image of a game in a country where out-of-touch politicians still tend to spew off the same hateful rhetoric about poker as they did 100 years ago. Change the public image, and you eventually change the laws, currently so hostile to our game here in the U.S.
Whatever you may think of her celebrity status, you can’t deny that Ms. Duke makes good use of her wealth and cachet. Her recent Ante Up for Africa tournament raised a lot of money for a very good charity, and she’s just announced another tournament in Los Angeles to benefit the Decision Education Foundation. (That’s scheduled for November; read about it here.)
So what do you think? Do affiliates pay any attention to this sort of thing? Should they? Does Annie Duke’s popularity represent a new female demographic just waiting to be courted by motivated poker affiliates? Throw in your two cents and let us know your thoughts.
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