Annette_15: Babyface Assassin

Bluff Europe October 2007

01 October 2007

A slightly giddy Annette Obrestad joins Bluff in the VIP room atop the Empire just an hour after winning the World Series of Poker Europe at the age of 18 years and 364 days.

The youngest World Series bracelet winner ever, the first ever female Main Event winner, the first World Series Main Event winner in Europe… Annette, a penny for your thoughts…

I don’t think I’ve realised just how big it really is. It’s huge! Winning this has broken so many records, and I don’t think anyone will ever beat them, unless somebody younger wins it, which is possible but highly unlikely.

Is it true you leant poker from your dad?

I didn’t really learn from dad but I played a lot of cards with him, and not necessarily poker. But I didn’t get into poker because of that; it was when I used to be really into bowling. I watched it on TV once and there was a banner for a poker website and I had to check it out. I got into it straight away.

So you taught yourself Texas Hold’em?

Yeah, I just saw a lot online and talked to my friends about it, and talked to people that I knew played poker.

Did you have a poker hero?

Daniel Negreanu has always been a role model for me because his play is a lot like mine, but he plays a lot of smaller pots than I do because he doesn’t raise that much pre-flop; he just calls and likes to keep the pot small. He doesn’t play a lot out of position, and he takes advantage of the loose, passive players by raising their limps, and I think I do the same things.

After you get a lot of experience you get to know when people are weak and when people are strong, and you don’t really care about your cards so much because, if you raise pre-flop after a limp, your opponent’s going to hit a flop one out of three times, so if you raise, then he’s going to fold most of the time.

Is it true you like to play online tournaments without looking at any of your cards?

I played this sit-n-go tournament on PokerStars which had a $4 buy-in, and I stuck a Post-it Note over my cards just for fun and for practice, and I managed to win the whole thing, which was crazy. I posted my hand history online and I had about 15,000 views on it.

What limits do you usually play?

I play anything online from $10 re-buys to £1,000 shootouts and freezeouts. I just sign up for everything and see what happens. I like to play maybe six to eight tables at a time.

What made you play in this tournament?

Well, I played in the Aruba event last year, which was my first real live tournament, and I played in Copenhagen, Monte Carlo, the Bahamas and the Irish Open. I’ve played a lot of EPTs but nothing as big as this one. Coming into this tournament, I felt like I had a lot of online experience compared to the other pros, as I see so many hands – I play eight hours a day on multi tables.

What were you like at school? Were you an excellent maths student?

Actually, I suck at maths! It’s not that big a part of the game really. It’s more about how you like to play; whether you like to draw to flushes, or whatever. I’m not usually the one calling on my draws; I’m the one betting, so the pot odds don’t matter because I’m not calling a bet, I’m basically giving my opponent a chance to fold and myself two chances to win the pot.

Did you have a particular strategy going into this event or did you just play your game?

You just have to adjust to the table. I mean, the first table I had wasn’t that difficult, but it didn’t have any really weak spots. I was sitting next to Ted Forrest who was probably the weakest player at the table because he was limping into every pot and calling every single raise, but the problem was he was hitting every flop, too. He was check-raising everyone and showing trips, but when he didn’t hit the flop he check-folded everything, so I don’t think he played very well.

Who played best on the final table?

The guy that I went heads-up with (John Tabatabai). He was definitely the one player I did not want to go heads-up with! I was rooting for the other guy every time he was all-in. My toughest moment was probably the hand where I hit the queen on the river. I was short-stacked when we came down to three-handed and I raised three times the big blind on the flop, and the guy in the big blind re-raised me to three and a half times my raise, so the pot was about £200K. So, if I push all-in here, it would make it £800K – he can’t call that with any two cards. I also know that he’s going to re-raise me with a lot of hands because he knows that I don’t want to bust out in third place, so I think he’s going to fold at least 8 out of 10 times. So I shoved it all-in, hoping that he didn’t have a real hand. He had been showing kings and aces and queens – he was a card rack, and I just thought, “He can’t have another hand,” so I just shoved all-in and when he called I thought, “Oh, shit!” (Laughs).

But then I hit a queen on the river… WOW! But I don’t want to be one of those guys who stands up and yells ‘Yes!’ when you hit your river card, because it’s not nice for the other person.

After it ended you disappeared…

Yeah, I ran to the bathroom in tears, I was quite emotional.

What advice would you give to players who have seen what you’ve done and want to get into the game?

Well, don’t just buy-in to an event like this without knowing what you’re doing. You have to have experience because the players are so good that you won’t stand a chance.

More live tournaments?

Definitely, and now that I’m sponsored by Betfair they’ll buy me in to wherever I want to play.

Are you going to concentrate more live or online?

It’s getting close. I think I preferred online a year ago, but now I think live. It’s just so different and exciting.

How do you keep you focus in a tournament like this when you’re used to playing so many tables online?

It’s kind of boring in the beginning, because, online, if you get A-K and you get it all-in and lose on a flip – then whatever – but live, because you’ve got such a huge stack compared to the blinds, you have to be patient and just pay attention to the table.

It’s almost as though you started life as a rumour on the internet. Do you find it strange that people in internet forums almost hero-worship you?

Yes. You have rails online where people are wishing me good luck on every table I’m playing. When I’m all-in deep in a tournament, the chat box is full of people going, ‘Ace-ace-ace-ace!’ It’s real cute because everyone is rooting for me.

Are your parents supportive of your chosen career?

Very supportive. My mum loves that I play, and she plays, too – normally the $100 tournaments online.

Have you read any strategy books?

Yeah, I think Harrington on Hold’em is probably the best book I’ve read.

What are you going to do with the money?

I don’t know. The money doesn’t really mean that much. It was more about the bracelet. But my mum and I might buy a small house or something in the town we live in, in Norway. It doesn’t really matter where I live because if I’m at home then I’m playing online, if not, I’m at the airport travelling somewhere.