Lederer Brings His Band of Card Sharks to USO Tour
Friday, April 08, 2011
Howard Lederer is preparing to lead an impressive list of poker stars on a USO tour of bases in the Middle East including Annie Duke, Tom Dwan, Phil Hellmuth and Huck Seed.
The group will spend one week visiting troops, answering questions and sharing secrets from the poker table while also signing autographs, posing for photos and teaching military personnel how to play cards.
Known as "The Poker Professor," Lederer took a few moments to correspond with the USO via email to answer some questions.
USO: Your bio talks about how you were a successful chess player as a youth and attended Columbia University. What led you to a career in poker and is there a similarity in strategy between chess and poker?
Howard Lederer: There was a poker game at the chess club where I was playing in New York and I fell in love. Chess and poker are actually very different. Chess is a game where the perfect move is possible at all times. All the information you need to make that perfect move is available to you on the 64 squares of the board. Poker, on the other hand, is known as a game of imperfect information. Unless you knew your opponent's cards AND you knew how he was going to play them, the perfect play is not possible to make every time. But that's what is great about the game. It is much more like life. You use all the information you do have and then make the best choice you can make. The better you are at the game, the better your decisions will be. But they never come easy. True skill at the game only comes with experience.
USO: Have you been surprised by the rise in popularity of poker, especially televised poker, over the past eight or 10 years?
HL: I always knew I was playing a great game that was very popular, especially in the U.S. But no one could have predicted how fast the game was going to grow once it became a hit on TV.
USO: You and fellow poker star and USO tour companion Annie Duke are siblings. I'm sure you've been asked this a ton of times, but how has that affected your relationship over the years? Is it about 50/50 when it comes to who gets the best of whom between you two?
HL: Both my sister and I have had a lot of success on the poker circuit, but in our head to head battles (especially in the WSOP), she has gotten the best of me. She's knocked me out 4 times.
USO: If you could, give poker fans reading three simple rules to live by when you're at the table.
HL: Study the game by reading books and watching poker on TV, and be patient. It takes time to get really good. You never stop learning. But most importantly, have fun. If you're not having fun, you won't improve as quickly as you could.
USO: Talk about your thoughts going into your USO tour and what you're looking to pass along to the troops.
HL: Every USO event I've participated in so far has been very memorable. It's always fun to interact with a group of people that share my enthusiasm for the game. For me, everyone I've met at these events are true heroes. It's simply inspiring to be around them.
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