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Model Aylar Lie Talks WSOP and Legal Poker in Norway
Think the US is the only country with legal issues surrounding poker?
Live tournament poker has been illegal in Norway for years, but a recent push by some noted celebrities is helping change the public perception of the game there.
On behalf of PokerListings, Håvard Berge Lehn had a chat with Norwegian celebrity and glamour model Aylar Lie.
Lie recently signed a sponsorship contract with Betsson Poker and will be playing the Main Event at the 2011 WSOP as a sponsored player.
For a long time, Aylar has had a gigantic media profile in Norway and around the world as both an artist and a model.
She appeared on the Norwegian version of Big Brother in 2006 and led her own team of hand-picked models called Team Aylar.
She also gained a lot of notoriety when she was disqualified from the Miss Norway pageant in 2004 for having appeared in several Adult films.
Included in the interview is Betsson’s Poker Director in Norway, Paul Myklebus, who talks about Aylar’s celebrity in Norway helping poker tournaments become legal in their home country.
PokerListings: Aylar, first of all, congratulations on your sponsorship deal with Betsson! You recently participated in the Norwegian National Poker Tournament - how do you feel the poker scene has welcomed you?
Aylar Lie: Thank you! My feeling is that I have been welcomed very well by the poker scene. The guys are both including and helpful.
PL: How do you feel that you can help make poker legal in Norway?
AL: As I have gotten to know the scene in the short while I've been in it, almost everybody wants poker to be legalised in Norway.
Nobody wants to hide illegal clubs in different cities.
I think it is a big advantage that profiled celebrities like myself and Petter Northug (ed note: Norway’s top cross-country skier and a national icon), who have a genuine interest in poker, can help bring the positive sides of the game into the media.
It’s a shame that the lottery authorities only want to show the negative aspects of poker when as many as 300,000 people play it as their hobby.
I think that licensing poker the way they have done it in Denmark should be the right path to follow for Norway as well.
PL: What are your goals at the 2011 WSOP in Vegas?
AL: My goals are to get as far as possible, and of course to get further than Petter Northug.
He has challenged me this time, but as all sporting people say I'll take it one day at a time over there ...
Anyways, we are a whole team going there.
Team Betsson, which consists of Stephan Kjerstad and myself playing the Main Event, Siv Vekseth and Siri Bodin playing the Ladies event, as well as the known blogger "Deltidspoker" playing Event 54 and the Main Event.
So we do hope some of us have a deep run.
PL: Do you play poker online? And if so what do you play and what is your favourite game?
AL: I just started, and I have been very busy with my studies lately. After my last exam June 18th, I will start practicing for the WSOP in a more serious way and then there will be some online play with one of my coaches.
Playing poker online is legal in Norway still so it will be good practice for me I think, as I get to play more hands than I would playing live.
This, including the fact that I have a coach with whom I can discuss hands with, will make up my work for the WSOP.
PL: Paul, you have worked tightly with poker in Norway for a long time. How do you feel the poker community has received the news regarding Betsson sponsoring Aylar?
PM: The feedback before and after the National Tournament about Aylar and her efforts has exclusively been positive - which you can also read on some Norwegian poker forums regarding the WSOP.
I believe that Aylar’s and Petter Northug’s interest in poker will have a positive influence towards the possible legalisation of poker in Norway.
For us it has also been important to coach Aylar before and during the tournaments, as we of course want our sponsored players to appear in a serious and professional matter in the poker scene.
During the national tournament we had great help with this from Stephan Kjerstad, who is also a part of Team Betsson.
He put in many hours with Aylar before the tournament, and taught her basic tactics as well as an understanding of the game.
This is a strategy we will also use for the WSOP. As we all know, you have to win some flips to get far in a tournament.
PL: Aylar and Paul, I’ve been watching you practice somewhat together with Stephan, can you explain a bit what it is you are practicing?
Yes, as we said we are using Stephan Kjerstad as a mentor for Aylar when it comes to poker skills.
He is a part of Team Betsson and one of Norway’s best tournament and cash-game players, so it is a natural choice for us to use him.
Until now, we have practiced mostly basics, which don’t not seem very hard for an experienced player but you need to remember that for a starter, tournament poker is a very complicated game.
Starting hands, raise amounts, reraise amounts, bet amounts compared to pot sizes are just a few examples of what we have been practicing.
The absolute most important part is understanding how you should play your hands in different table positions.
PL: I would like to thank you both for the interview, and I wish you a pleasant trip to Vegas. Let's hope the cards are with you!
One last question - Aylar: Do you have any special routine you go through before playing a large tournament?
Until now I haven't had the time to make a routine, and I am not very used to playing many hours straight, so I get tired a lot faster than the guys doing this on a daily basis.
That is why i keep away from alcohol before and during the tournament, and I am very conscious of getting enough water and nutrition.
I save the sodas and sports drinks until the end of the day when i feel tired and need a push.
PL: Thank you for the interview, and good luck in the WSOP! We will be following you.
Follow the action from Las Vegas with our 2011 World Series of Poker Live Coverage section.