When all the chips made their way into the middle of the table, Annette ‘Annette_15’ Obrestad’s set of 7’s had John Tabatabai’s two-pair absolutely crushed. And when the meaningless deuce hit the turn, it was official – Tabatabi was drawing dead. Obrestad would not only become the *World Series of Poker Europe*’s first title holder, she would also be the youngest player ever to win a WSOP bracelet.
That was back in 2007. Today, Obrestad continues to hold a precious place in the history of poker as well as the in Norwegian poker community.
Though the citizens of Norway have had their legal struggles with the game of poker, some of poker’s most notable names have emerged from the Kingdom of Norway. Like Obrestad, many of these sponsored pros and longtime players have left a lasting mark on the game.
Perhaps the most notable is the aforementioned Obrestad who, as a teenager, epitomized the aggression and precision of the pre-Black Friday online grinder. She’s accumulated nearly $4 million in lifetime earnings, good for second place on the Norway All-Time Money List. Perhaps more than any of her individual wins though is the legend of her online 180-person online victory where she allegedly never looked at her cards (well…maybe once.). While Obrestad hasn’t been on the circuit as much these days, anytime she’s at the poker table she would still be considered one of poker’s most well-known players.
The “Godfather” of Norwegian poker, Thor Hansen is a two-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner, a 2017 Poker Hall of Fame finalist and third on the Norwegian All-Time Money List. Hansen is considered one of the true ambassadors of poker for the country, and that’s why the poker world was devastated when in 2012 he revealed that he’d been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Despite the odds given to him by the doctors, he’s kept on fighting and as recently as March 2018, the live-poker legend has kept on thriving and playing and even cashing, this time in the The Norwegian Open. Hansen is one of Norway’s most beloved poker players and he currently sits just $50,000 shy of $3 million in lifetime earnings.
Norway’s All-Time Money List leader Felix Stephensen is Norway’s answer to the poker dream. With only a handful of live results to his name prior to playing the WSOP Main Event in 2014, Stephensen outlasted 6,682 runners to finish as the runner-up to Champion Martin Jacobson. His red-hot run brought him a life-changing cash of over $5.1 million. The very next year, instead of making a return to the November Nine, Stephensen found himself in the
Norwegian National Championships in Olso, Norway where he won the Main Event for another $161,000. Stephensen still finds time to grind and has been in the winner’s circle as recently as the 2018 Aussie Millions where he took down Event #19 for over $66,000.
Everyone wants to know what Johnny Lodden thinks. The Norwegian poker pro may be well-known for being the titular character of the mind-bending game of poker prop betting founded by Antonio Esfandiari and Phil Laak, but it’s only because Lodden is a constant presence at the poker table. Lodden is a dual-threat in both cash games and tournaments and is a sponsored pro over at partypoker. A one-time regular on the European Poker Tour he’s cashed in the Main Event of the tour no fewer than 22 times and has accumulated over $2.8 million in lifetime earnings. Despite being a veteran on the poker scene, Lodden is still a youngster at age 32 with his best results very likely yet to come.
While these players have been ambassadors for the game of poker for some time, the country of Norway continues to produce ambassadors that turn new players on to the game of poker. Take for instance Stephan Kjerstad, a long-time grinder who plays online poker at betsson Norway. Though he’s not in the constant limelight, the Team bettson pro continues to grind the online cash games and been designated the “poker teacher” because of his sense of humor and ability to promote the game.
Though the country of Norway continues to take a hard stance against the game of poker, the players hailing from the kingdom continue to do an admirable job in representing both the game and their country for the future generation of players to come.