/ June 2006:
Pro: Howard Lederer
Brother of Annie Duke and "The Professor" of high stakes poker.
by Bradford R. Pilcher
He is an absolute bear of a man, so you'd think he'd be jawing down sirloins on an hourly basis. What you might not guess is that the man they call "The Professor," Howard Lederer, is a practicing vegetarian. He made the shift from carnivore to herbivore after gastric bypass surgery, and he's held to his leaf-eating habits with one exception. He once was bet $10,000 he wouldn't eat a cheeseburger. It may have been the easist ten grand anybody's ever won.
But Lederer isn't the type of guy who likes things easy. His nickname comes from his calm, methodical style at the poker table. Always thinking, its an approach that has paid off. With almost $3 million in live tournament winnings, he's captured two World Series bracelets and two World Poker Tour titles.
It all began, believe it or not, with a game of chess. Having grown up at the East Coast prep school where his father taught, he became a natural chess prodigy. While attending Columbia University in New York, he became a regular at the Mayfair Club, a chess club frequented by pro poker players such as Eric Seidel and Dan Harrington.
Having officially caught the poker bug, he managed to climb the ladder of high stakes poker in the late-1980s and early-1990s. He even managed a fifth place finish in the 1987 World Series of Poker, finally making a permanent move to Las Vegas in 1994.
Today, Lederer is a commentator and poker celebrity as much as a player. He co-hosts the "Poker Superstars Invitational" tournament for Fox Sports and has run poker training camps around the world.
Still, despite his calm demeanor, his more competitive and fiery side has shown up from time to time. He's publically criticized pro Daniel Negreanu for comments about his sister Annie Duke and famously refused to shake the hand of an obnoxious player, Tony G, during a 2003 tournament in Paris.
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