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Online Poker: Interview With Annette 'Annette_15' Obrestad

Annette_15 Talks About Her Recent Win, the Tournament She Played Blind, and Other Strategy

Annette 'Annette_15' ObrestadThe screen name Annette_15 has been legendary since the first time it blipped on the radars of big-buy-in Internet poker tournament results. As the story goes, the 19-year-old Norwegian poker prodigy behind the name, Annette Obrestad, started her meteoric rise without ever having deposited a single dollar on a site. She made her way up from freeroll tournaments to small-buy-in sit-and-gos to eventually playing in the biggest tournaments online, and she is now one of the most recognizable names in poker.

Obrestad furthered her legendary status when she accomplished two outstanding feats recently. First, about three weeks ago, she played an entire 180-person sit-and-go without looking at her cards - and she took it down. Then, she went on to win one of the most prestigious tournaments out there, the Full Tilt $500,000 guarantee, just last week. She got on the phone with Card Player to talk about her recent achievements and to share some strategy:

Shawn Patrick Green:
There was an incredible series of hand replays posted recently on that shows an entire $4 buy-in 180-person sit-and-go that you played in completely blind (covering up your holecards). You took it down, of course. Have you played tournaments blind before?

Annette "Annette_15" Obrestad: Yeah, I've not looked before. When I used to play $30, $40, or $50 sit-and-gos I did it all the time. I dropped down to lower levels just to practice, but I didn't take it seriously enough, I think. This was the first time I'd done it in a while. I really just did it for fun, and that's why I peeked on one hand; I didn't think I was going to take it seriously enough. But when I got deeper, I wanted to win [without looking] to show everyone that it was possible.

SPG: I had read somewhere that you did peek once in hand No. 47 before calling when an opponent went all in on flop with three spades. So that is true, then?

AO: Yeah, I did. I was getting such good odds that I figured "if I have a spade here I'm just going to call him."

SPG: So you didn't peek even once during heads up?

AO: No, I didn't. I mean, it was really hard because I could never call a bet when he kept shoving all in on me almost every hand. There was nothing I could do about it. If he knew that I was playing blind, he would have shoved all in every hand. [Laughing]

SPG: What did that exercise prove? Or what can people learn from your experience with that?

AO: Just how important it is to play position and to pay attention to the players at the table. Like, if you knew that someone was weak you'd attack him.

SPG: It's also a testament to how much you should play your instincts rather than your cards.

AO: Yeah, that too, definitely.

SPG: So, you won the Full Tilt $500,000 guarantee just last Sunday. Congrats on that. What got you to that final table?

AO: Oh, man, that was such a long tournament. I was doing really well in the beginning, but I screwed up in the middle stages. I think I was down to one big blind at one point. Then I doubled up and I was back in it again. I had very weak tables the entire time and I just kept running them over. And then I was a card rack at the end.

SPG: Speaking of which, you eliminated the final two players in back-to-back hands, the first of which you flopped quad sixes and he was betting aggressively until he was all in on the turn. What were you thinking when you flopped the quads?

AO: That was such a big hand. I knew right away when he reraised [preflop] that he had a huge hand and I was just hoping to nail that flop. When the flop gave me two more sixes I thought, "Oh my God, I'm going to win this tournament." [Laughing]

SPG: You basically let him dig his own grave in that hand.

AO: Yeah, you know, I really could have just shoved the flop because he had an overpair. It was pretty stupid of me to just call, in case he had jacks or queens and an ace or king came [and scared him off]. But I don't know, it could have worked either way, I guess.

SPG: How often is it correct to play quads at face value (i.e., very aggressively)?

AO: If you're playing against an aggressive player, you want him to bluff at you, but if you think he has a big hand you can just shove it in and hope you get a call.

SPG: But if he has a big hand, he's going to be doing the betting for you, anyway, so is it ever worth the risk to play quads aggressively?

AO: It just looks more suspicious if you just call, basically. It looks like you're trying to trap him.

SPG: I assume that you're going to play in the World Series of Poker Europe?

AO: Oh, yeah, definitely. I can't wait for that.

SPG: How many events do you plan on playing?

AO: I have no idea. Probably just the main event and maybe the pot-limit Omaha event, too. I don't know, I kind of suck at PLO, but it's a fun game. I just don't know if I'm going to spend €10,000 to buy into it.

SPG: Do you change your game up at all when you play live?

AO: Eh, not really. You just have to pay more attention, which isn't really that hard when you're only playing at one table, except when you get bored. Just listen to music and pay attention, that's all you can do.

SPG: There hasn't been a single final table that you've been at where railbirds haven't asked if you'd marry them and/or bear their children. Are they all just gold diggers?

AO: [Laughs] Oh, I don't know. I think it's just become a joke since everyone does it all of the time.

SPG: So, no serious romantic interests from the rail that you're going to pursue? [Laughing]

AO: No, no, none.

SPG: Which online player have you learned the most from, and what was the most valuable lesson that they taught you? You're going to have to play favorites, here.

AO: Hmm … I think that I haven't really learned a lot from players, so far. When I started playing, I didn't know anyone else who was playing, so I just had to do my own work. And now that I can play at higher stakes, I've gotten to know the people who know how to play and it's a lot easier to get in touch with them. It's only been lately that I've started to tear apart hands with other players. I just had to stand by myself before.

But I've always been a big fan of JohnnyBax [Cliff Josephy]. He's just a role model, I think. He's a really good player and he handles himself really well.

SPG: With all of the lore behind your rise to poker stardom by starting with freeroll tournaments, do you have any strategies for tournaments with freeroll-like blind structures and players?

AO: You just can't bluff if you're playing against weak players. Just be patient.

SPG: Well, can you even play position against weak players? Because they aren't going to be paying attention to or respect position as much.

AO: It depends, really. I mean, if you have three calling stations behind you, you don't want to be raising with king-deuce. You might, however, raise with seven-six suited and hope to hit a flop. You don't want to get too tricky, though.

SPG: So in a situation like that where the blinds go up really quickly and your opponents may not be as educated, do you think you depend more on your cards than anything else?

AO: Yeah, I really think that you do. You can't do too much unless you get cards in that situation. Like, when you get shortstacked and you have 10 big blinds, if you shove queen-deuce you'll get called with queen-jack. You can't do much without getting cards because their calling ranges are so huge.

SPG: So, is there an argument to be made that skill plays a smaller factor in tournaments with worse players?

AO: Oh, no. As long as you bet your hands hard enough, you're going to get paid off when you hit. So, just be patient with them.

SPG: Thanks for taking the time for this interview, Annette.

Annette Obrestad is a blogger for and is currently on the lookout for possible sponsorships. Potential sponsors can contact Obrestad by sending an e-mail to
Tags: poker beat


15 years ago

Amazing. I'm never going to deposit again...


15 years ago

big inspiration for someone free rolling from a $50 singup bonus a few years ago. Keep your head straight.


15 years ago

what exactly are you trying to say there, bigbrett? the sentence is poorly worded.


almost 15 years ago

I have been playing online for a year now.I am starting to do good in sits and mtts, but when I play in cash games I get killed and go bust. How can I do better in the cash games, and go further in the sitngos.