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Youth and Age, Anonymity and Fame at the WSOP

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June 23, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

A seventy-eight year old retiree from Florida just polished off the field in the senior’s event for a bracelet and $487,994. Harold Angle has been playing poker for 64 years and scored his first and only tournament victory at the WSOP. The only pressure on Mr. Angle was the pressure of playing competently and dusting off the competition. Today, Annette Obrestad, a twenty-one year old Norwegian woman, who is the youngest winner of a World Series of Poker Europe bracelet at age 18, is playing in the third day of the Event 39, No-Limit Hold’em Shootout. Unlike Mr. Angle’s comfortable anonymity, (before he won) Obrestad is playing in the spotlight. Will a woman win another WSOP bracelet? Will a woman who has just had her twenty-first birthday allowing her to play poker in a Las Vegas casino come out the winner or will the pressure be too much?

The problem with being good at what you do is that, usually, your skill comes to people’s attention. When you are a professional poker player playing in the spotlight is part of the game; however, one might think that the experience necessary to handle that sort of pressure is more likely to come with years of experience. Thus, we would expect to see the likes of Doyle Brunson, Thomas Preston, Linda Johnson, and, now, Harold Angle do better in the glare of publicity than the “youngsters” of the game.

The problem with this theory is that Phil Ivey was only 24 when he took a first at the WSOP; Daniel Negreanu was 23 when he won his first bracelet, and Joe Cada was just days short of his twenty-second birthday last year when he took first at the final table of the WSOP Main Event. So, it would appear as though the tough players, young or old, handle the hype and play their best under pressure. That being the case, one can expect Obrestad to ignore the glare today and give it her best shot.

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