Former teen poker sensation ready for 'adult' tournaments

Oct 27, 2009 4:06 PM
by Phil Hevener |

Former teen sensation hits Vegas tables

Poker’s former teen sensation, "The Huntress," has grown up, meaning she turned 21, and is playing in Las Vegas for the first time.

Norway’s Annette Obrestad began playing poker at the age of five, thanks to the willingness of a father who figured you’re never too young to enjoy a good card game. She was 18 years old when she accomplished a wildly improbable feat – winning the 2007 main event at the World Series of Poker Europe in London the day before her 19th birthday, outplaying hundreds of main event challengers, including many of the most respected big names in the world of poker.

But she was already a familiar face, so to speak, at Internet poker tables, making little attempt to hide her youth. Internet-related poker laws in other countries are not as restrictive as they are in the U.S.

Her tournament winnings alone over the last couple years are getting close to $3 million (U.S.), including the $2 million she earned with her big win at the World Series.

How could a teenaged girl do this? By immersing herself in study and countless hours of decision-making at Internet tables, thereby accumulating the instincts of a veteran in a relatively short time.

Her age kept her from getting to the tables in the U.S., a fact that has not rested comfortably on her mind. "Not being 21 sure does suck," she grumbled to a reporter who had asked her what millions of dollars in winnings at such a young age feels like.

But things are in the process of changing. She’s in Las Vegas for televised cash games that will be edited into hour-long segments for the next season of NBC’s "Poker After Dark." Beyond this show there is a world of big time poker awaiting her attention. Not the least of these opportunities is next summer’s World Series of Poker at the Rio, the granddaddy of all casino promotions that spawned the London event that she won.

Successful poker pros in today’s media-conscious world must arm themselves appropriately. She already had an agent, which meant there was just one other necessary item … a nickname. Every big time pro needs a nickname, right?

Phil Hellmuth is not Mr. Hellmuth . . . he is Phil "Poker Brat" Hellmuth. Phil Laak is the "Unabomber." Doyle Brunson is "Texas Dolly" and so on.

"I want a nickname," Annette informed a group of friends and associates who sat down to give the matter some thought, eventually coming up with several possibilities that were presented to her.

She considered the list and pointed at one of them. "I like the way this one sounds."

And so Annette Obrestad, the 21-year-old Norwegian who is already a millionaire because of her poker-playing skills, is exploring poker in Las Vegas as "The Huntress."

"After Dark’s" Las Vegas producer Mori Eskandani smiles at the way this process evolved. "What usually happens is you look around for a phrase the player does not really care for and that’s the nickname he gets stuck with; in this case she chose it herself."

You can try out your strategy by playing our free live online poker.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Phil Hevener