When Reuben Peters sat down at the table today he was the first player to go all-in. It was the first hand and he pretty much had to. As one of the short stacks he knew he wouldn’t have long to double up and position himself better to make it through the day. As it turned out no one called the all-in. Had they done it might have changed the outcome of EPT Dublin, but it was a fighting spirit that kept the PokerStars qualifier from Colorado alive, and ultimately led him to the moment when he would seemingly defy logic and become the latest EPT champion.
How it looked at the start of the day:
Seat 1: Thierry Van Den Berg, 35, from Holland – PokerStars qualifier – 274,000
Seat 2: Daan Ruiter, 24, Groningen, Holland – 646,000
Seat 3: Reuben Peters, 45, from Colorado, USA – PokerStars qualifier – 176,000
Seat 4: Annette Obrestad, 19, from Norway – 788,000
Seat 5: Anders Pettersson, 20, from Sweden, PokerStars qualifier – 166,000
Seat 6: Casper Hansen, 24, from Denmark. PokerStars qualifier – 360,000
Seat 7: Trond Eidsvig, 22, Aalesund, Norway – 184,000
Seat 8: Michael Durrer, 42, from Germany, PokerStars qualifier – 247,000
Seat 9: Reijo Manninen , 47, from Helsinki, Finland – PokerStars qualifier – 480,000
In certain segments of society there exist people who are different to everyone else. Greeted in awe by the world’s followers these uber-folk are called by their first name and first name only. Ever since the WSOP Europe named its inaugural winner the poker world has known one of its number by the name ‘Annette’, and nothing more.
It has been a word spoken in reverential terms here in Dublin, even before she looked likely to follow her success in London by winning her first EPT. Miss Obrestad – and that may be the last time her surname is ever used – barged through to the front of the pack on day two and didn’t look back. And today she took an incredible lead all the way into the heads-up match with Reuben.
He had been just one of eight players treated like sparring partners. Deft at using her stack to maximum effect Annette doled out punishment at every turn with five players eventually done and dusted at the hands of the Norwegian.
First it was Casper Hansen. When he found queens he pushed in finding Annette meeting him there with pocket aces. The Danish PokerStars qualifier took €30,630 for ninth place. Thierry van den Berg, another PokerStars qualifier, went next 30 minutes later. He moved in on a flop featuring two aces only to be called by Dutchman Daan Ruiter who held a third. Thierry had tried the bluff and it had blown up in his face. Out with an ‘Oops’, Thierry took away €47,650 for eighth place.
The next twenty minutes saw a further two players exit, both PokerStars qualifiers from a six strong final. First it was the German Michael Durrer. He beat his 12th place finish in Baden last month, but was clobbered by Trond Eidsvig here when he moved in with A-Q only for Trond to show Q-Q. It didn’t finish Michael, but the 20k it left him with went in next hand. Annette added the finishing touches, sending Michael to the wings.
He was followed by Anders Pettersson, a 20-year-old PokerStars qualifier from Sweden, who pushed in with Q-7. Trond called with A-3, the ace being enough. In a little over an hour we were down to five players, with Anders gone in sixth place for €83,380.
By now Annette had a stack of 1.3million, ahead of Daan Ruiter on 770k. But second in chips was no guarantee of safety and when Daan lost a pot to Reijo Manninen, which doubled up the Finnish PokerStars qualifier, his tournament was suddenly in jeopardy. Moving all-in behind a raise from Annette, Daan cringed when his A-T was bettered by her A-J. It was the difference of one rank in the deck, but a huge difference in the tournament. The Dutch railbirds called out their support but the board brought no favours. Daan was out in fifth place for €105,510.
Meanwhile, with all attention focused on the Norwegian wunderkind, Reuben Peters tried hard not to be a piece of the scenery on Annette’s road to victory. He moved in shortly before the break, Q-J diamonds against Annette’s A-K. The flop 9-2-8, with two diamonds, gave Reuben options with a gutshot straight and a flush draw. As it turned out he needed neither with the queen on the river doubling him up. Play merged into the break and players stretched their legs, and we’d seen the eventual winner flex a few muscles. But most people had missed it.
Such was the pace it was not long after the break that Trond Eidsvig’s tournament came to an end. Again it was Annette and for a second time she did the deed with aces. Trond left in a slight state of shock, his face pleading for sympathy from someone somewhere and it was easy to understand his confusion. We can only hope the €127,630 for fourth place will settle his shredded nerves.
It had now become even more one-sided. Was it simply a matter of time before Annette finished off Reuben and Reijo and cement her legend into fact? What if Reuben eliminated Reijo? He’d have close to a million chips and be a double up away from seizing the tournament by the throat? It seemed feasible for those wanting to deny one player’s dominance, but it wouldn’t happen.
When PokerStars qualifier Reijo Manninen went it was Annette forcing him to leave. Behind on the showdown, A-3 to Reijo’s A-J, he would depart in third place when the three hit the turn. €178,680 for the Finn.
Annette still had Reuben to beat. He’d seen the turmoil, the players repeatedly thwacked by the 19- year-old girl with a reputation that stretches back to Oslo. Not much was seen or heard of Annette even as she played in full view of the rail this week. Hidden by a fringe, sunglasses and a stack of chips to her chin, she only came out from behind her stack to shake the hand of the vanquished.
The hypothetical plot to topple Annette seemed crushed. Or was it?
Out of synch with events so far Reuben was thrown a lifeline, doubling up when he pushed with bottom two pair and found Annette calling with top pair. It gave Reuben the million chips he would need to have a chance of catching her, a pot which she would later say was a mistake to play.
Then the hand came that would turn the game on its head. Following a Reuben bet Annette re-raised, over 100k more. Reuben called, watching as Annette bet 420k. With a hand that would remain a mystery he moved all-in. Annette couldn’t risk it and folded. Suddenly the switch that no one thought possible just 30 minutes earlier had come about, and it would culminate with a stunning victory just a few minutes later.
The flop read T-6-3. Annette bet 230k before Reuben made the decision to settle it then and there. “All-in.”
Eyes were on Annette now. She reached for a bottle of water and took a sip, and another, and a third. After the fifth sip she slowly screwed the top back on the bottle, very slowly, like she was ringing its neck. “Call.”
A-T for Reuben, pocket sevens for Annette who made an involuntary ‘shh’ noise when she showed her cards. A four on the turn – she would need a seven or a five. A three came instead and the EPT Dublin was all over. Annette would have to take second, but PokerStars qualifier Reuben Peters from Colorado USA, was able to breathe a sigh of relief. He’d sealed an incredible and unlikely victory, the latest player to make it to an EPT via the lobby of PokerStars.com and become a champion. He’s now €532,620 richer and has a place in the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo next year.
Reuben Peters, winner
“Today I was getting horrible cards and Annette just ran over the table. But the blinds weren’t big so there was no panic, I felt like I could take my time.
“I was not supposed to win this. I was down to five big blinds yesterday. I started as one of the short stacks and needed to double up. I got lucky, but it’s good to get lucky in poker.
“When I got some cards I was able to play back her. I’ve played against her many times online in $100 re-buys on PokerStars but that’s the first time I’ve met her face to face. It’s by far my biggest win to date.”
What will he spend the money on?
A vacation and it’ll help pay for my kids education. Charlie, 12 and Martha-Jane, 14.
Annette Obrestad, runner-up
Going into the final, did you think you would win?
“Heads up I thought I could win. But I made a few mistakes. I meant to bet 220k but bet 420k by mistake. I also made a mistake on the two pair hand.”
You impressed a lot of people this week
“I’m not happy though.”