The Las Vegas Venetian Poker Room recently announced that online poker pro Annette Obrestad has been signed as its poker ambassador.
The partnership has raised eyebrows as Sheldon Adelson, casino magnate and chairman of Las Vegas Sands which owns the Venetian, has been strongly opposed to the online poker industry in the United States.
The announcement was confirmed by Obrestad in a tweet on January 29.
Guys, its official! I'm now an ambassador for @VenetianPoker. I'm SOOO excited. I hope to give a lot of you a chance to play with me soon!
— Annette Obrestad (@Annette_15) January 29, 2016
Sheldon Adelson has consistently opposed online poker, to the extent of creating and personally funding the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling in the U.S. He has aggressively campaigned against the online gambling industry, invested millions in to the campaign from his personal wealth and used his influence with state legislators to oppose any move to legalize online gambling.
Thus when Obrestad who is well known in the online poker community was named as an ambassador for Adleson’s poker room, the online poker community wasn’t very happy with the partnership.
Originally from Norway, Annette Obrestad has been playing poker online since the age of 14 under the handle of ‘Annette_15’. She is known for her successful online poker career where she has banked major winnings without making a deposit. Obrestad started her live tournament career in 2007 with a remarkable win in the World Series of Poker Europe Main Event. She won it the day before she turned 19, making her the youngest ever to win a WSOP bracelet, a record that still stands.
With career winnings of over $2 million in live poker winnings, she is the second most successful Norwegian player. She hasn’t had a great run of late as her last major live tournament win was back in 2013 and her last six-figure win was in 2011. She has not been active in live tournaments and has pretty much dropped out of sight.
Her appointment as the ambassador of Venetian Poker Room has therefore come as a surprise and upset a few of her fellow poker players. While some like Kathy Liebert, a member of the Women in Poker Hall of Fame have observed that Obrestad has never been seen playing at the Venetian, others have called her a player past her prime playing days. Obrestad responded to Liebert’s comments saying that she plays in the Deepstack poker tournaments at the Venetian at times. She also said that she had played at the Venetian quite frequently a couple of years ago.
This is not Obrestad’s first brush with trouble as an ambassador. She was the face of Lock Poker, the online poker room which closed in 2015. Obrestad came under fire for continuing to be associated with the company even after there were widespread complaints that the website was failing to make payouts to its players.