There are countless close friendships that have been forged over the poker table but nothing interests people more than a good old-fashioned feud. There’s a reason that Phil Hellmuth berating Shawn Sheikhan and Tony G telling Ralph Perry to get on his bike are two of the most popular poker clips on the Internet. With that in mind there is one poker rivalry that has spanned over a decade and gotten downright nasty at certain points. We’re talking about the seemingly never-ending spat between Daniel Negreanu and Annie Duke.
There are very few ongoing conflicts between poker players that have gotten as malicious and continued as long as the one between Kid Poker and the former Celebrity Apprentice contestant.
Although the feud has calmed down over the years, it seems very unlikely that either player will be sending Christmas cards to the other.
Here are some of the highlights, or maybe lowlights, from the decade-long battle between Negreanu and Duke.
Negreanu vs. Duke: A Feud is Born
1990s: First Contact
Back in the late ‘90s Daniel Negreanu was making his first trips to Las Vegas in an effort to make it as a professional poker player.
Over that time Negreanu was an active member of the rec.gambling.poker community, which included famous members such as Chris “Jesus” Ferguson and Howard Lederer.
In 1999 Negreanu made a post that listed the 10 best Limit players in the world based on his experience in the $500/$1,000 game at Bellagio.
It was arguably the toughest game in the world at that point and Negreanu listed Annie Duke as the sixth-best player in the game and was extremely complimentary of her game at the time.
Sept. 9-18, 2002: Shots Are Fired
Negreanu starts making vague accusations on rec.gambling.poker about an “expert” that acts like a bully in the Bellagio game.
At first the comments are about an anonymous person but Negreanu later starts adding “she” into the thread.
Howard Lederer, a member of the community and brother to Annie Duke, realizes who Negreanu is referring to.
September 27, 2002: Big Brother Steps in
Later in the month Lederer posted an open letter to Negreanu accusing him of waging a public smear campaign against Duke
Lederer focused on the following issues:
- Negreanu constantly referring to Annie Duke as “Annie Puke” when she’s not at the table
- Negreanu’s “obsession” and obvious bias for Jennifer Harman over Duke in terms of successful female poker players
- Negreanu’s “desperate” need for public recognition
- Lederer also alleged that Negreanu called Duke “digusting” and made fun of her wardrobe.
Lederer finished the letter by saying he never wants anything to do with the Canadian pro unless he’s trying to bust him at the poker table.
Sept. 28, 2002: You Wouldn’t Like Kid Poker When He’s Angry
The next day Negreanu posted a response, and it’s safe to say he wasn’t very happy when he wrote it.
Negreanu got downright nasty as he said that Duke went out of her way to ridicule him from the moment he met her when he was 22 years old at the 4 Queens.
According to Negreanu, Duke referred to him as “cupboy” thanks to his habit of always having a Styrofoam water cup at the table and frequently criticized his play.
Negreanu called Duke a “horrible person” and maintained there were numerous players that felt the same way.
The post hit a low when Negreanu accused Duke of always wearing the same dirty clothes with no shoes in the casino.
At one point he even said that no one wanted to sit in $2,000 chair that has "urinated foot sweat soaked into it."
He also said that she had been causing harm to many players for years and it was time someone said something about it.
Feb. 19, 2003: “Annie Duke is a low life.”
A few months later Negreanu would yet again post on RGP about the various reasons he thinks Annie Duke is a low life. He separated the post into seven points:
- He accuses her of angle-shooting in Stud-8-or-Better games by not splitting the pot when she said she was going to.
- He says she habitually looks at the hands of players next to her and once swore on her kids that she didn’t look when she had, in fact, seen the cards.
- Negreanu referred to a three-handed satellite to the WSOP Main Event where she picked up an opponent’s cards from the muck and looked at them. She apparently said “Just checking” and threw the cards back into the muck.
- Negreanu accuses Duke of looking at his hole cards during a $300/$600 mix game.
- According to Negreanu, Duke used to steal other player’s seats.
- In the 1999 WSOP Main Event Negreanu claimed Duke was involved in a hand where another player made a string bet. Another player at the table, Steve Kaufman, who wasn’t involved in the hand made the dealer aware of the string bet. Duke lost it on Kaufman and said “This is the worst thing that has ever happened to me in a tournament.”
- Negreanu talked in detail about how Duke treated him when they first met at the 4 Queens.
Negreanu finished the post by saying that a couple years later he had started to win tournaments and all of a sudden she was nice to him.
Finally he apologized to his friends who are also friends with Duke for the awkward position he has put them in.
2003-2005: The Professor and Kid Poker Make Up
It’s not exactly clear when it happened but apparently Lederer and Negreanu patched things up enough they can tolerate each other at numerous poker tables around the world.
Negreanu still seems to have some strong feelings about Duke, however.
Jan. 15, 2005: Well, this is Embarassing
The aforementioned rec.gambling posts began to circulate on the TwoPlusTwo poker forum and Negreanu posts a blog that says the posts were “nasty” and he was “embarrassed” by them.
Negreanu goes on to say that he always speaks his mind but it’s not his place to judge others.
He doesn’t go so far as to say he actually regretted making the posts but did say that they embarrassed him.
Sept 8, 2005: You Can Read About it in My Book
The autobiography Annie Duke: How I Raised, Folded, Bluffed, Flirted, Cursed, and Won Millions at the World Series of Poker is released and a small portion speaks about Negreanu.
She refers to him as her “online tormenter.”
Throughout their entire feud Duke rarely publically acknowledged Negreanu’s strong words for her.
July, 2010: Hello Neighbor!
Negreanu and Duke are seated right next to each other in the Tournament of Champions at the WSOP.
Despite the proximity and media attention, nothing of consequence happens. A couple weeks later however…
August, 2010: Did You Just Use the “C” Word?
In an interview with PokerPlayer.co.uk Negreanu allegedly called Duke a [email protected]#$ for belittling the Ladies Event.
Duke would later say she was shocked by the language and wrote an open letter to Negreanu’s online sponsor, PokerStars, demanding a reprimand.
PokerStars responded by saying they don’t support the use of derogatory or hurtful language ever.
Eventually Negreanu would say that he thought he was speaking off the record to the writer of the article and apologized to all women who were offended.
He never apologized directly to Duke, however.
March, 2011: I Don’t Care for UB, Never Have
Throughout the late 2000s Negreanu is also very outspoken in his contempt for UB Poker, a site where Duke was heavily involved as a member of Team UB and as the UB Cardroom Consultant.
UB was tarnished when a super-user was found to have cheated players out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Duke finally left the site in early 2011.
Aug. 11, 2011: Your New Tour Sucks
Negreanu writes a blog post titled “Why I Don’t Play the EPL” that blasts Duke’s newest venture – the Epic Poker League.
Negreanu mentions he doesn't think the tour will be a success without a legitimate source of revenue.
Outside of online poker being legalized in the U.S. and the Epic Poker League starting a poker site, Negreanu says he can't see a way for the tour to be profitable.
He also mentions the lack of big name old-school players like Phil Ivey, Chris Moneymaker, Scotty Nguyen and Doyle Brunson that will seriously hurt any chance the tour has to succeed.
Duke is the commissioner of the league and has yet to respond to any of Negreanu's recent criticism, although she has mentioned on numerous occasions that the league has some very wealthy and committed investors.
The Future of Negreanu vs. Duke?
This is just a brief history of the war of words between the two well known poker pros.
If you really want to get into the nitty gritty of the mud-slinging then you should check out the thread on TwoPlusTwo which also has the majority of the old RGP posts.