Having worked in the poker industry for the best part of eight years it is safe to say that I have probably seen it all when it comes to this game. Rags-to-riches stories are common place, incredible tournament runs like those enjoyed by Erik Seidel and Daniel Colman in recent years and even the occasional scandal rears its ugly little head from time to time.
A couple of weeks ago, while browsing on Facebook, I saw an update from Leon Louis, who online poker aficionados will know better as Flippetyflop, a high stakes heads-up sit & go crusher. Louis linked to a thread on the twoplustwo forums that his friend had started, a blog of sorts, one depicting her progress in PokerStars Spin & Go tournaments.
With the poker world being mostly made up of men, the fact Louis’ friend was a female made the thread stand out, but after reading her opening post, which included her beating cancer twice, I had to reach out to Anna “DuckRatMe” Duxbury to find out more about her. Thankfully, she agreed to speak with me and we chatted for an hour and I’m glad we did.
Often when you chat to poker players, you’re greeted with a relatively closed book. It’s almost as if they don’t want to give too much away or let you into their personal lives, but not Anna. From the second we started speaking to one another to the second our Skype call ended she was open, honest, frank and I came away knowing so much about her and feeling like I’d made a friend; the sign of a good interview I guess!
Yorkshire born and bred
Anna was born and raised in York, which is around 30-miles from where I grew up, but moved to Manchester in her 20s. One day, Anna collapsed at work and was taken to hospital. The doctors ran a number of tests while they attempted to diagnose what the cause of the collapse was and discovered that Anna was four-months pregnant!
“I said I couldn’t be pregnant, but they took me for a scan and there was a baby sat cross-legged and sucking its thumb!”
Despite the massive shock and the fact plans to go travelling for six months were scuppered, Anna took her new situation in her stride – I get the impression she does this with everything that challenges her – and a few months later, after returning home to York, gave birth to a baby girl called Olivia
Three years later, Anna became a mother again when Isla came into the world and all was rosy, although her relationship with her partner broke down, resulting in Anna becoming a single parent.
Determined to provide the best for her young family, Anna held a number of different jobs before she received some frightening and life-changing news when a routine check-up at the doctors revealed that she had cancer.
Anna had to undergo surgery and was under the watchful eye of specialists who monitored her situation. Six month after the surgery, the cancer returned. Thankfully, extensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy worked and the cancer hasn’t returned for a third time.
“I’m so unlucky when it comes to health,” said Anna, “but I’m still here!”
Before her battle with cancer, Anna was already playing online poker after watching some of her friends playing home games and some televised poker on Channel 4.
“A few years ago some of my mates had home games and I was always a bit of a tomboy when I was younger, but that was one of the things that I never got involved in and never got invited to because I didn’t know how to play poker. I saw it on Channel 4 then watched it the week after then kind of got hooked!
“Then I started playing on Zynga, played for play money and got the bug really, I loved it. The when I looked into it a bit more, I discovered people were actually making money from poker and it’s not just pure gambling, there is a skill edge as well.”
After depositing on PokerStars, Anna began playing cash games and multi table tournaments (MTTs) before discovering hyper-turbo head-up sit & gos (HUSNG). The fact the games were over quickly appealed to Anna as she could fit in playing around her work and kids, as did the fact she seemed to have a penchant for them. When the Spin & Gos launched, she switched to those and hasn’t looked back.
Before the cancer returned Anna had a job but had to leave after only two months so was only receiving statutory sick pay, which anyone from the UK who has had the misfortune of having to rely on will attest to it being a pittance. Grinding Spin & Gos seemed like a good way to supplement her low income and a solid win rate in the $7 buy-in games over a 3,000+ sample size confirmed that she was a solid, winning player.
Developing into a top poker talent
Anna reached out to a talented player and coach known as “Cog Dissonance” for coaching but her second battle with cancer cut that short. After making a full recovery, she enlisted the services of Cog she continued crushing the games.
“I was trying to build a bankroll with my own money, but it was difficult because I kept dipping into it to pay for things and, obviously, when playing lower stakes it takes a lot longer to build up a bankroll. He offered to stake and coach me and I agreed.”
After looking at Anna’s results and watching her play, Cog put Anna into the $15 buy-in Spin & Gos and she quickly progressed to the $30 buy-ins. She now has aspirations of moving up even higher and is continually receiving coaching and putting in time away from the tables in order to fulfil her goals.
Should she make it to the $100 buy-in level, she may come across her boyfriend, “Wubblepig” who is often found plying his trade there. Judging by the feedback from some of the game’s top talent, it’s going to be a case of when not if Anna progresses to the top of the pile.
Before our Skype call ended, Anna and I chatted about the poker world so it was no surprise that poker’s Mecca came up in conversation. A surprise 30th birthday present, a trip to Las Vegas, ranks up there as one of Anna’s best-ever holidays.
“I loved Vegas. I’d love to go back.”
I have no doubts in my mind that Anna will head back to Vegas and do so as a feared and respected poker player in addition to being one of life’s amazing characters.