Andreas Walnum, Festa al Lago Champion of the World!

Andreas Walnum
Andreas Walnum Playing in Day 4 of the Festa al Lago

Today, Andreas Walnum, a 23-year-old professional poker player from Bodo, Norway, won the World Poker Tour's Festa al Lago Season 5 event complete with diamond-studded bracelet and $1.1 million first prize. Walnum battled adversity to get to the final photo shoot with Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten, finding himself at the bottom of the chip leader board on Day 3 and facing a number of close calls at the final table, including an early double-up at Joe Pelton's expense that marked a sea-change in the table's dynamic early in the day.

I managed to get in a few questions with a very tired-looking Andreas before he escaped to celebrate his victory with a little well-deserved peace and quiet.

Can you walk us through what happened on the final hand?

Well, I flopped a set of deuces, and I bet out on the flop. Then I checked the turn, and I thought he bet $200,000, so I was going to raise him to $600,000. But he'd bet $400,000, so I had to raise to $800,000, and I wasn't really happy about that - I thought it said too much about my hand. But (Steve Wong) had top pair, so he made the call, and he made the call when I pushed all-in on the river.

Andreas Walnum and Steve Wong

What was your strategy going into the final table?

Pretty much to get a feel for the table. Just to spend a few rounds doing that. I planned on being aggressive, but I had to check out the table. Joe Pelton was probably going to run over the table if he didn't lose all those chips, so I had to be aggressive. But I didn't set a strategy before the tournament.

Who would you say was your toughest competitor at the final table?

I don't know. Pelton was pretty tough. He makes big moves so he's hard to play against.

On Day 3 you were very short-stacked. At any point did you just want to give up?

Andreas Walnum

I never wanted to give up, but it looked pretty bad at one point. But I just had a good feeling, like it was meant to be.

How did you manage to turn it around on Day 3 after being so short-stacked?

I won a few races, you know, and got lucky in a few hands. That was pretty much it.

It's been said that you had about twenty-five lives in this tournament. Did you feel that way?

Yeah. Yesterday, Day 4, I won like five or six races to get up to $600,000, so I had to get very lucky to get here.

Was there a key hand for you during the tournament?

Andreas Walnum

I would say when I doubled up at the final table. I got the chip lead with that, so of course I gained control of the table. That felt pretty good.

How many live tournaments have you played in total?

Like five. I play mostly cash games, not really tournaments.

Do you play online a lot?

Yeah, I play mostly online.

Andreas Walnum

Did you feel like your inexperience with live tournaments might cost you coming into the final table?

At first, but I felt better as the day wore on. I felt okay. I felt like I had a good chance of winning.

Alright, and finally, how are you going to spend the money?

I have no idea. I'll think of something later.

Thanks, Andreas, and congratulations!

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Andreas wasn't sure if he'll be at the next World Poker Tour event, coming up next week at the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls, Ontario, or at the Foxwoods event in early November. He said he can only stay in the United States so long due to his status as a Norwegian citizen, and so would have to weigh his options. With this victory and an $11,500 cash at the Borgata Open in September, Walnum is riding a winning streak that will make him someone to watch out for, wherever he turns up next.

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