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Howard Lederer

By Paul McGuire

Richard Lederer never expected that two of his children, Howard and Annie, would grow up to become professional poker players. Little did he know that raising his children in an ultra competitive and academic environment would prepare them for the difficulties of high stakes poker.

In the year between high school and college at Columbia University, Howard Lederer spent most of his time playing at different chess clubs around New York City. One day he discovered a poker game in one of the back rooms and instantly became hooked.

Howard Lederer
Howard Lederer - Source: Las Vegas & Poker

In the 1980s, when he wasn't traveling the country following the Grateful Dead, Lederer spent most of his time honing his poker skills. He eventually dropped out of school and supported himself with winnings from cash games. He played all over New York City including the Mayfair Club, one of the most infamous bridge and backgammon rooms around at the time. There he developed friendships with other players like Erik Seidel and the 1995 World Series of Poker Champion, Dan Harrington. After long late night sessions, they would retire to a local bar to discuss and analyze their play over a few drinks.

Lederer moved to Las Vegas in the early 1990s and concentrated on cash games in casinos. In the meantime he taught his sister, Annie Duke, how to play. He staked her in games back home in Montana. They would have nightly phone conversations reviewing Annie's play from earlier that day. In 1994, he invited his sister to Las Vegas to participate in a few World Series of Poker events. She was ready. After all, she had an excellent mentor. In an ironic twist, Annie knocked out her older brother in the main event of the World Series of Poker that year. Today, Annie is not just regarded as one of the top female players, but she is also known as being one of the best all around players in the world.

Lederer made an effort in the last few years to play as many No Limit main events as possible. His results are impressive with two victories on the World Poker Tour and three TV appearances. He won the World Poker Finals at Foxwoods in 2002 and the Party Poker Million. He took third at the WPT Battle of the Champions and is the first player to win two WPT events. Howard has two World Series bracelets, winning Deuce to Seven Draw in 2001 and Omaha Hi/Lo in 2000. Obviously, Lederer is skilled in more than one game and that’s why he is regarded as one of the best poker players in the world today.

Whether or not he wins or loses a hand, his reaction is the same. If I could pick one poker player that I'd like to model myself after, it would be Howard Lederer. I wish that I could act patiently, make better disciplined decisions, and capture the essence of the Zen moment in the same way Lederer has done the last several years. Without a doubt, he is one of the last guys I would ever want to see sit down at my table.

Lederer is known as "The Professor", a nickname he picked up over the years. These days, he posts his well thought out opinions about poker onto different message boards. His write up on the 2003 WSoP main event is one of my favorite tournament reports on the internet. He has written for several publications and has also appeared as a poker announcer for FOX Sports. He currently lives in Las Vegas with his wife and son. You can visit his site at www.howardlederer.com.

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