Finland Poker

History of Poker in Finland

There wasn’t much to say about poker in Finland prior to the Internet explosion in the early part of the 2000’s, but once the game started rocketing around the globe Finnish players quickly took to poker and now have a reputation as some of the most fearless players in the world. Finnish players are not only considered solid No Limit Holdem players, but also have a reputation of being solid PLO practitioners, a game they were once considered the biggest fish in thanks to their wild play!

How unorthodox were the early online players from Finland? Well, let’s just say that it took the better part of five years for other players from around the globe to give them any credit at all; even to simply acknowledge they were OK. Now Finnish players have turned the poker world on its head, proving that playing a loose, ultra-aggressive, style of poker that was previously unthinkable to employ, can be a long-term winning strategy.

So, when the next history of poker is written, it’s likely the Finnish invasion of the mid-2000’s will receive a whole chapter, and will be credited for ushering in the loose-aggressive era of poker.

Famous Finnish Poker Players

You won’t find any famous Finnish poker players from the 1980’s or 1990’s, but in just a decade the Fins have become some of the winningest, and most feared, poker players in the world. One Fin who has made a huge name for himself in the poker world is former Tennis Pro Patrik Antonius, who is mentioned in every conversation when it comes to the best poker player in the world.

Oddly, the majority of the most recognizable Finnish poker players in the world are high-stakes cash game players, and not tournament professionals –although they can lay claim to tourney pros like Juha Helpi, Jani Sointula, and Ville Wahlbeck.  But the real names in the Finnish poker world are the high-stakes PLO and NLHE players like Patrik Antonius, Sami “LarsLuzak” Kelopuro, Jens Kyllonen, and Ilari “Ziigmund” Sahamies.

Here is a look at some of the most well known poker players from Finland and their career accomplishments:

Antonius Patrik Patrik Antonius

  • One of the most successful high-stakes cash-game players in poker history
  • Member of Team Full Tilt Poker
  • Over $3.2 million in career tournament earnings
  • EPT Baden winner in 2005
  • Runner-up in the 2005 WPT Five Diamonds Poker Championship
  • Considered one of the best all-around poker players in the game


Sami Kelopuro poker Sami Kelopuro

  • High-Stakes online cash game pro
  • One of the first players to win and lose millions practically overnight
  • Runner-up in $10k PLO Championship at the 2011 WSOP


Juha Helppi poker Juha Helppi

  • First came to fame as WPT online qualifier
  • One of the most consistent tournament players in poker: earning at least $250k per year since 2004
  • Nearly $4 million in career tournament earnings
  • 2009 EPT Deauville High-Roller champion


Ilari Sahamies poker Ilari Sahamies

  • Considered one of the best high-stakes PLO players in the world
  • $447k in career tournament earnings
  • Power Poker spokesman and sponsored pro


Online Poker in Finland

Online poker in Finland is completely unregulated at the current time. While this has both positive and negative aspects for the players –with plenty of options and competition in the market, but also the chance for less than ethical poker sites to get into the market—the real hope is that eventually Finland will legalize and regulate online poker.

With an unregulated market, it’s important for Finnish poker players to stick well-established online poker rooms, with good track records in the industry, and that are licensed by a respected agency like Aldernay, Malta, or the KGC.

Here is a look at the Top 3 online poker sites in Finland for both games and in terms of credibility amongst Finnish players:

pokerstars site PokerStars

  • Largest online poker site in the world
  • Team PokerStars Nordics: Hockey Legend Mats Sundin, Viktor Blom, Ville Wahlbeck, Johnny Lodden, and Theo Jorgenson
  • The most respected name in the industry

powerpoker Power Poker – NOW CLOSED

  • A top 10 online poker room in terms of overall traffic
  • Member of the popular and respected Merge gaming Network
  • Represented by Finnish online legend Ilari “Ziigmund” Sahamies

party poker Party Poker

  • Second largest online poker room in the world
  • Long-standing site with an excellent reputation
  • Favorite site amongst European poker players


Where to play poker in Finland

Finland doesn’t having a thriving a live poker industry, in fact there are only three places to play in the entire country, and with a heavy rake there is a reason why the majority of top Finnish poker players stick to online poker, or move out of the country.

If you are in the Scandinavian country you can check out the poker tables at Casino Ray and Grand Casino both of which are located in Helsinki, or Casino Paf in Aland. Casino Ray is the best known of the bunch and hosts most of the major tournaments that come through Finland.

Poker laws in Finland

As mentioned above, the situation in Finland is convoluted when it comes to online poker and with no official laws on the books, Finnish players find themselves in a gray zone, and also have to deal with a number of small, unlicensed, poker sites offering games to players.

When it comes to live poker, the Finnish government does not look kindly on any activity where they are not receiving a cut of player profits. But like most locales around the world there is nothing prohibiting Finnish residents from playing in a private home game so long as there is no house rake or fee.

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