Annette Obrestad: Exclusive Interview

Annette Oberstad Feature

01 May 2008

Annette Obrestad: unless you've been living under a poker rock, you will have heard of the young internet prodigy. Annette won last summer's World Series of Poker Europe Main Event, smashing records for youngest bracelet winner, biggest cash for a female player at the World Series events, and so on.

We're all going to get the chance to take her on tomorrow in the Bluff Europe Exclusive Freeroll, but we didn't want you to go in there unless we could give you some advice from the lady herself. So here we have it: Annette on how to beat Sorel, what it's like being a champ, and how to best approach the freeroll.

Tournament play and cash games are very different. What do you think are the most important skills needed to be a good tournament poker player?

I think in order to really become a good tournament player, you need a lot of patience and stamina, and also be mentally very strong. The variance in tournament poker can be very frustrating, and bad runs can last a long time. If you can play through those streaks without tilting and still play your best, then you're ready to take on any tournament you want.

Come May 20th you'll be taking on some Bluff Europe readers in a freeroll. Without helping them too much, what advice can you give to our readers about how to tackle the tournament?

Just because it's a freeroll doesn't mean you should take the tournament lightly. On the other hand, it allows you to experiment with new things for free against some decent players. Take some risks, try stuff you normally wouldn't do, and learn by your mistakes. Oh, and have fun!

More importantly, what kind of advice would you give to players who want to bust Sorel?

Whenever you flop a pair, don't fold!! Seriously though... he likes to bluff and make moves, and I can't see him caring too much about a freeroll. I think I'm a little more competitive and can play my A-game no matter what buy in I play at, but Sorel on the other hand needs high prize pools as a motivation for him to be able to play his best. I think the best way to beat him will be to just be patient and wait for him to get bored and blow up ;) (Don't tell him I said that lol)

You have a super aggressive style of play, which occasionally means some people accuse you of being lucky. Does that kind of 'criticism' bother you?

The only times it bothers me is when I'm running bad. If I've just busted out of 10 tourneys playing online and all of a sudden I win a race in the last tournament I'm in and the rail goes 'Oh my god, she's so lucky, she never loses a wonder she won WSOPE'. Stuff like that kinda puts me on tilt.... but I also think that having a positive outlook on the game and expecting to suck out sometimes will make you remember the times you do get lucky and forget when you run bad. That leads to less tilting and better play. Whenever you get into the state of mind where you 'KNOW' when the beats are coming because expect it, you won't appreciate the times you get lucky. Instead you'll just think "well, damn about time I got lucky, I deserved it!" And then it just keeps going in an evil circle that's hard to get out of.

Do you consider yourself a live game player now? How has your relationship with online poker changed since your win in London?

I still consider myself more of an online player than a live player. That's where I started, where I learned the game, where I spent countless hours trying to get better and grinding my way up the latter until I reached the top. I have accomplished a lot in the online world, and I think more people remember me for winning that Sit and Go blind than winning WSOPE. Weird, isn't it :).

I don't play as much online now because I'm travelling so much. And the tournament schedule is so bad when you live in this time zone that its just impossible to combine the two, so I have to stick to one thing at the time.

What advice would you offer to female poker players now who want to take up the game? What can they expect, through the eyes of Annette?

First of all. don't expect to get respect. People won't think you're a good player, simply because you're a girl. That's just how men think of us! They will probably think they can run over you. You have to be prepared to work hard to prove them wrong, but trust me, once you prove them wrong, they won't look at you like a girl anymore!

You once famously won a tournament without looking at your hole cards. Have you ever come up with some other 'drills' or goofy ideas to help your game?

Not that I can think of. That's probably the best lesson you can get in playing position and learning when to bluff, which is two of the most important parts of being a great player.

Are there any particular hands you've played which made you especially proud/want to tear your hair out?

Lol, sooo many... I don't even know where to begin. One of the hands I really regret is the last hand of EPT where I called an all in with pocket 7s on a T high flop vs Rueben's AT and basically gave away the title and the money. I did follow my read though, and I'm sure making that call will help me in a similar situation in the future even if it ended as a disaster that time. I think the hands you play bad are more important to remember and obviously a lot easier because they usually hurt. But those are the ones that will make you a better player in the long run. The less mistakes upu make, the more you'll think about your mistakes because they stand out so much.

Obviously a lot of the poker world is keen to see how this young prodigy progresses. If you were to tell them about some other young internet players out there, who would you tip for success?

Just take a look at all the ranking lists out there. The ones on top are the people who dedicate almost all their time to the game, who really have a desire to get better and who has the bankroll to go on bad runs and knows how to deal with it. There are so many if I were to mention names the list would be a page long, so I won't. It's just so close at the top that it's hard to separate them from each other, and all of them have different qualities. And it doesn't always mean that the person who is #1 is better than #5. He's probably just playing a higher volume than everyone else resulting in more cashes.

If there was no poker, what would Annette Obrestad be doing around now?

If I had to guess, I'd say that I'd still be in school and still changing my mind about what I wanted to become, because I had no idea before I found poker.