Obrestad's victory came after seven days of intensive play and 361 eliminations as well as a number of suck-outs and lucky catches that will doubtless have the forums raging about Annette_15's lockbox play and all-out donkstrikery. Rest assured, however, that the Internet phenom's victory (bolstered by substantial winnings in online MTT play) is hard-earned and well-deserved, and came on the backs of days of tough, tricky play in which this teenaged sensation outplayed some of the best poker players in the world.
The final chapter of Annette_15's amazing achievement began with the tournament's nine finalists convening in the Shadow Bar of the Casino at the Empire in Leicester Square, London, at 2 p.m. on a beautiful Sunday afternoon with £1 million and a place in poker history on the line. Leading the pack into the feature table was chip leader Matthew McCullough, the soft-spoken American amateur who'd qualified on Bodog.com and had to that point taken a backseat to his more assertive Scandinavian counterparts.
Those Scandinavian counterparts included the likes of Theo Jorgensen, Magnus Persson, Johannes Korsar and Oyvind Riisem, while holding it down for the Union Jack were John Tabatabai, Dominic Kay and James Keys.
Keys came in as the short stack and would not last, busting out nearly immediately after shipping his last $119,000 into the middle with Q-T to Magnus Persson's A♣ 9♣. The flop brought a nine and though Keys would catch a ten on the turn, it wouldn't be enough and he'd head to the rail early, out in ninth place for £61,540.
Next out the door would be Theo Jorgensen, who was crippled by John Tabatabai after he shoved all-in with tens and ran into J-Tabs' pocket kings. Jorgensen would be left with not even enough to post the blinds, but would quadruple and double up before finally falling to Obrestad's trip sevens on a 7-5-4-J-7 board with two other players both joining the fray. Jorgensen was eliminated in eighth place for £85,070.
Magnus Persson would hit the bricks in seventh place after finding himself short-stacked and making a desperation shove with K♠ T♥. John Tabatabai again woke up with pocket kings and after the board ran out A-7-5-4-3 it was curtains and a £114,300 check for Magneto, and six players remaining.
Dominic Kay would spend the day raising from his short stack and then folding to re-raises or bets on the flop, seemingly always on the brink of extinction but forever waking up with aces at just the right moment. His luck would run out after he shoved with pocket sixes and Matt McCullough looked him up with eights, flopping a third eight and bricking out the board to send Kay packing. The Englishmen would collect £152,040 for his sixth-place finish.
Johannes Korsar would quickly follow Kay's lead and busticate shortly after, shipping it with K♦ J♦ and seeing John Tabatabai call with sixes. Again the flop brought a set for the big stack and again the short stack couldn't recover, and the game was four-handed after Korsar exited the building with a cool £191,860 to show for his efforts.
Oyvind Riisem was next to go. The Scandie sensation would stay quiet at the final table for most of the day but managed to parlay his unoffensive table habits into a fourth-place finish worth £257,020. Riisem's swan song occurred at the hand of McCullough, who flipped up pocket aces to Oy-Rii's pocket nines when all the money got in the middle pre-flop. 8-7-5-4-K, he gone.
Shortly after Riisem's elimination, Annette Obrestad shocked the world with a rather unorthodox play that nearly saw her prematurely busticated. Obrestad open-shoved from the button with Q-J off-suit and John Tabatabai was happy to call with pocket jacks. The board came 7-6-4-4 and it looked like curtains for poker's Annabel Veal, but the river was a miracle queen and Obrestad doubled through.
Tabatabai could have been forgiven for simply going on tilt and giving up the ghost right then and there, but by the time dinner rolled around about 15 minutes later he had won two substantial pots and was second in chips and climbing. In fact, it would be McCullough who would feel the burn of the after-dinner rush, getting all-in crazy good on a J-6-3 flop with J-6 to John Tabatabai's A-6 and then seeing a heartbreaking ace hit the turn. The river was a blank and the nurse anesthetist from Joisey was out in third. He'll take home a very nice £381,910 for his tenacity.
Tabatabai would take a 4-3 chip lead into the heads-up match with rival Obrestad, but with deep stacks and their professional discipline neither player seemed eager to put all of their chips in the middle senselessly. Obrestad would take a slight chip lead after one hour of heads-up play, but her advantage was negligible through the second hour and even up to the final hand.
On the climactic showdown roughly 2.25 hours into the heads-up marathon, both players saw a flop come 7♣ 6♣ 5♥ and Obrestad open-shoved immediately. It didn't take long for Tabatabai to call and turn up 6♦ 5♠ for bottom two pair, but the Londoner was not pleased to see Obrestad turn up pocket sevens for top set.
With J-Tabs drawing nearly dead, the board bricked out 2♣ Q♥ and after a brief pause to verify chip counts, it was official: Annette Obrestad was Main Event champion! The new Queen of Europe sat motionless in her chair as chaos broke out around her, struggling to hold back tears as the rest of the poker world watched a new chapter in the game's history play out.
After a brief intermission to come to terms with her victory in private, Annette_15 was presented with her first WSOP bracelet and the £1,000,000 first prize and was feted to the media and the fans as the WSOPE's new champion. Meanwhile, Tabatabai was left to seek solace in his £570,150 consolation prize.
So there you have it. The World Series of Poker The Europe (sic) is over from London and Annette Obrestad is the champion. We leave the United Kingdom congratulating both Obrestad and Tabatabai as well as Dario Alioto, Thomas Bihl and the tournament organizers and staff on a job well done. See you next year!