Top Finnish Pro Poker Players

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Jeffrey | Poker Strategy

Finland has an interesting relationship with gambling according to Kasinohai.com. Unlike many other countries, the gambling industry is so heavily regulated that it is controlled by a government monopoly. The state-owned agency, named Veikkaus, is responsible for providing all gambling services in the country whether that’s in land-based casinos or through online platforms.

That means poker players in Finland must go to state-run casinos, the few which exist, to play the game officially. There is, of course, a thriving amateur poker scene in the country, too, which has seen many people rise to fame for their success with the game.

Finland is home to a number of professional poker champions, and these are just a few who have gone on to achieve great success in the industry.

Ilari Sahamies

Born in 1983 and nicknamed Ziigmund, Sahamies is a popular and famous poker player best known for his bubbly personality. His journey began at the age of 15 when he and his friends played a game at home. The rest is history. At the time of his first game, Sahamies was an avid billiards player but later grew as passionate about the game of poker as he was billiards.

His nickname Ziigmund was first used when he began playing the game online, but it changed in later years when he began playing at PokerStars. He became “Ilari FIN” and quickly became known, as a result of his Full Tilt games, as one of the most aggressive and offensive players in all of Finland, perhaps the entire industry!

Sahamies is considered one o the top pro poker players because, over his career, he was won almost $2 million in tournaments. He also famously was up by almost $7 million during a game of Full Tilt Poker in 2009 but lost nearly everything shortly after. Many wonder whether Sahamies has left the industry as he has not appeared playing games in some time.

Jens Kyllonen

Another child of the 80s, Jens Kyllonen was born in 1989 and has proven to be one of the best players of live poker tournaments in Finland. Kyllonen initially became interested in poker by playing the game online and was awarded best poker player in Finland in years 2012 and 2013. That alone is enough to grant him the title of one of the top Finnish players, and so is the fact he has won roughly $5.5 million in winnings throughout his career.

Kyllonen has used a number of different nicknames throughout his career, particularly when playing online. His most famous username, and the one he used the most, was Jeans89. In 2014, he was accepted on to Phil Galfond’s team at Run It Once, which is one of the most famous coaching sites for budding poker players in the world.

Kyllonen is one of the biggest cash winners of all time, he won a WSOP bracelet and is also recognized as one of the best poker coaches in the world.

Patrik Antonius

Born in 1980, Patrik Antonius is another one of the most famous Finnish poker players, and for good reason. Antonius has earned more than both Kyllonen and Sahamies, having earned roughly $8 million in winnings during his live poker tournament games. However, this is thought to be just a fraction of the total sum he has won playing live cash games in Macau, Las Vegas, and other places all over the world. The games in which he won undisclosed sums were private games, signalling that Antonius took a keen interest in the game in both a personal and professional capacity. He is thought to be one of the biggest winners of all time.

Antonius began playing the game in the early 2000s, and he quickly showed talent and passion for playing. In 2005, he won EUR 280,000 during an EPT Baden event. Since then, he went on to play multiple variations of the game and is now a name known all over the world for his skill.

Juha Helppi

Born in 1977, Juha Helppi is another tournament specialist who made it to the big leagues after spending years developing his skills. Helppi is unique and notable in that he is not as aggressive as many of his fellow players, choosing instead to remain polite and sweet throughout the games. His temper never bubbles over “mild” and during his career, he is believed to have earned around $7.3 million in winnings. The biggest cash price Helppi won at any one time was $399,000 during a high roller event that took place in Malta in 2015.

Helppi is a self-made poker star who started playing professionally at tournaments in 2001 and later won the first Premier League Poker tournament. Interestingly, he is also a famous pro paintball player.

These are just four of the big names from Finland, but there are many more!

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