Annie Duke, one of the world's top professional poker players, is an excitable fast-talker, a shameless flirt, and an affectionate mother of four children. And when she's at the poker table, Duke, 41, is an enigma who crunches numbers while divining her opponents' intentions. In 1991, she impulsively dropped out of a Ph.D. program in cognitive psychology to play cards for money and ran off to Montana to marry a friend she'd never even dated. Her gamble paid off in 2004, when she nabbed the $2 million prize at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.
CF: Do you rely on intuition at the poker table?
AD: Yes. It's all about decision-making. You have to look at what you have, guess what other people have, sense what mood they are in. There are layers upon layers of information. I can't think of all of that consciously, but I'm making instant decisions based on my experience.
How can you tell when someone is bluffing?
Poker playing is storytelling. People aren't good at telling a logical story when they're lying. So I call a bluff when I can't figure out a story about what they're doing.