EPT9 London Day 1A: Obrestad from out of the blue. And green.
The British poker player is a very specific breed, and within that breed are various subdivisions, some of which are untouched by evolution while others are at the very peak of the species. Yet despite such a broad array of type, they stand out when seated alongside their peripatetic friends.
One particular table previews this dimension, the contrast never more defined than between Barny Boatman and Annette Obrestad. Both are accomplished players, but this isn't about talent, it's more appearance.
Obrestad is the picture of upright, well-manicured refinement. Occasionally she breaks this pose to play a hand, but only long enough to humiliate someone thinking they can take her on without just cause. Six years after her famous WSOP Europe win in London, she still has that capacity to instil alarm.
That said Boatman is too experienced to be affected by such powerful PR, and took a break from catching up on twitter to play a hand against her, the prototype British player against the Valkyrie with a handbag.
Annette Obrestad: "motivated" and "pleased", yet "mystical"*
Obrestad, sits upright, is composed, quiet, neat, and trim. Her straight hair is past shoulder length and her fringe stops at the top of a pair of oversized sunglasses (the English weather ensures you only ever need wear sunglasses indoors).
Crucially, the nails on her right hand are painted a greenish blue colour, teal, while those on her left are a shade of violet. Perhaps these colours reflect her mood, I thought, so I asked the internet. "Receiving, flowing, inner emotions charged", it said. "Pleased upbeat and renewed." What of the purple? "Intuitive, deeply relaxed, inner harmony, romantic, aglow."
Barny was in trouble. His tan trousers suggested signified "disapproval" and "flaring passion", hardly ideal when taking on Obrestad, who also sparkles from certain places - the jewellery around her neck and on her wrist and handbag.
There's a gloss to Obrestad's contentment while Boatman is straightforward matt. His only bling is a signet ring on his right hand. He sits side on to the table with one leg propped up on the other. To him a poker hand is a rock concert, a performance that could go either way. To Obrestad, it's more a recital, a performance of previous practiced manoeuvres that only ever has one outcome.
Both saw an ace-high flop. Boatman checked to Obrestad who placed 1,000 out front. She was smiling slightly, although that depended on the eyes behind the sunglasses. Barny called for an eight on the turn. Again Boatman ("challenged, aloof, anxious") checked to Obrestad who made a big enough bet to force Boatman to fold.
He brushed it off, insignificant in these early levels, and dug in to play the next. Obrestad, who has not been seen on the EPT for a while, serenely re-stacked her chips. This could be her welcome return.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter
* Thanks to the sheofmermaids blog