Annette Obrestad is the real name behind the "machine" known as Annette_15. Of course anybody that knows anything about online poker knows that Annette_15 is not really a machine by standard definition, but actually one of the most talented and successful online poker players ever.
As her name suggests, Annette started playing online poker when she was only 15 years old. In only a couple of year's time, her name could regularly be seen atop tournament leader boards on multiple online poker sites. It is not difficult to be seen at the top of such rankings if you have had the incredible results she has. She had a decent score in early September ‘06 where she finished fifth in a $109 plus rebuys tournament on PokerStars and then, like the Energizer bunny, she kept on going and going. During a one year period, from September 2006 until September 2007, she finished in either first or second place (more often first) in twenty $109 + rebuys and $55 + rebuys tournaments on Stars alone. She also had numerous other first place finishes in other events, and on other sites.
Obrestad has transitioned into live action tournament poker nicely. Shortly after her 18th birthday, she played in the 2006 Ultimate Bet Aruba Classic and finished 37th. She placed in a few more brick and mortar events in Europe over the course of the year and then in September of 2007 (a couple days prior to her 19th birthday) she won the first-ever World Series of Poker European Championship held in London's Leicester Square. Annette outlasted 361 players in the £10,000 No Limit Main Event and won £1,000,000 ($2,013,734). Some of her victims included Jennifer Harman, Paul Wasicka, and Annie Duke. After Annette declared "This is my first TV table", Duke replied: "Trust me, it won't be your last." Annie later expanded in her blog, "The other player who made a definite impression was Annette_15. She won the main event, cashing over $2 million. Pretty nice payday for an 18 year old, no? She is the youngest player ever to win a bracelet and deservedly so. As I said during the event when asked, if she is this good now, at 18, I shudder to think how good she will be in 5 or 10 years. I don't think I have ever seen someone that young with that much talent and feel. She never loses her composure at the table and has amazing instincts. Combine that with the fact that I don't think the other players knew what to do with her and she was scary to watch. I don't think I was talented at anything when I was 18, much less world class talented. She is not even 20 and is already a terrifying player and one of the most talented I have ever seen. In 5 to 10 years holy crap! I don't ever want her on my left again because I will get outplayed. That I know for sure."
Her comments weren't any surprise to the popular online site Pocketfives where Obrestad is a member. Many in the community think Annette is not only one of the greatest players, but also a member of the family. After her win, one poster said, "It is funny how a girl that most of us will never meet has had such an impact… This young girl is like everybody's little sister. We have no envy, no jealousy. We love seeing her do well… You have thousands of people thinking about you this morning. And we are all smiling and thinking we are part of this as well."
Prior to her win at the WSOPE, she made online poker headlines by winning a 180-person tournament. Winning a 180-person tournament is a simple task to a person like Annette, but winning it without looking at your hole cards is simply amazing! According to Annette, she played the whole tournament, with the exception of one hand, blindly (my guess is she used post-its to cover the cards being displayed on her monitor). In one interview she stated, "I've not looked before. When I used to play $30, $40, or $50 sit n go's, I did it all the time…When I got deeper [in the tourney] I wanted to win [without looking] to show everyone that it was possible." According to her, the exercise proved how important it is to play position and to pay attention to the players at the table. She also said that instincts definitely come into play as well.
Her father taught her how to play 5-card and 7-card Stud poker at a young age. Annette_15 claims to never have made a single (money or cash) deposit online. When she decided to give online poker a try, her mother wouldn't let her use her credit card. So she signed up for a freeroll tournament, won $9 and hasn't looked back since. If you were in her shoes, would you want to look back? There appears to be so much in store for her in the future.
Annette Obrestad resides in the small town of Sandnes in Norway.