The Norwegian teenager Annette Obrestad won the Main Event of WSOP Europe last night.
In doing so she broke any number of poker records: at eighteen years old, she’s the youngest player to win a World Series bracelet; she’s the first woman to win a World Series main event; and, with her one victory, she’s jumped over Annie Duke as most successful female player in World Series history (that is, if you go by the prize money – Obrestad picked up GBP 1,000,000 in the early hours of this morning).
Obrestad tends to be known as ‘internet phenomenon Annette _15’. Annette _15 is the alias she goes by online, where, particularly in the last year or so, she’s been obliterating internet tournaments.
The story goes that when she was fifteen Obrestad asked her mother to deposit some money for her into an online site. Her mother, understandably, refused. Obrestad then entered a free-to-enter tournament anyway, picked up $ 9 and has subsequently built that up to a bankroll of well over USD 1,000,000. It’s her boast that, unlike the rest of us, she has never had to deposit any money into any internet site.
I first watched her in action on Day 1 of WSOP Europe. She sits very still at the table; she’s small and dark-haired and looks as if she may have just strayed in from an audition to play a Munchkin in the Wizard of Oz. No Munchkin has ever been so ferocious: Obrestad, in true Scandinavian poker style, is fearless and hyper-aggressive, playing a wide range of hands and attacking her opponents with hefty bets at any sign of weakness. Annie Duke commented that the girl is certainly a very fine player, ‘but she’s suicidal’. Two tournament days later, Obrestad eliminated Duke when her Q7 of spades turned into a flush on the flop.
So how do you play the likes of Obrestad? Sit tight and wait for a good hand to take her on with? Or loosen up your own play and try to take her on at her own game? This question has been worrying at me, as, in a week tomorrow, EPT London begins and I’ll be taking part in it. With its EUR 8.000 buy-in, the EPT tournament is not just the second biggest poker tournament this month, it will also be Britain’s second biggest of the year. And it will be full of the likes of Obrestad, ferocious young players, who attack anyone who might at some point in their life have had to learn the meaning of fear.