Poker in Sweden

History of Poker in Sweden

Sweden. Like most northern European countries does not have a long tradition when it comes to playing poker, or known for producing big name poker players for that matter. That said, Sweden was one of the first Scandinavian countries to hop on the poker bandwagon after the Internet boom  in the early 2000’s, and has been producing truckloads of top poker players ever since.

Sweden still has very strict laws concerning online poker as well as live poker, which keeps many of the top Swedish poker players from coming forward and disclosing their identity –lest the Swedish taxman come knocking at thire door! Perhaps the most well-known instance of this was with the Swedish phenom, Isildur1, who burst onto the online poker scene with the most insane rollercoaster ride in online poker history. It wasn’t until Isildur1 moved to London, England, and subsequently signed with PokerStars, that he revealed himself to be Viktor Blom –and even then rumors started to swirl that Swedish tax authorities wanted to talk to him about his online poker results.

Despite the strict measures and extreme tax laws that govern the Swedish poker world, the country is still considered a hotspot for young poker talent, even if it’s not a desirable destination for major tournaments or to live as a professional player.

Famous Swedish Poker Players

As I stated in the introduction, the one thing synonymous with Sweden and poker, is superstar poker players. Besides the aforementioned Viktor Blom, Sweden has also produced such noteworthy names that are now populating the poker world like Chris Bjorin, William Thorson, Martin de Knjiff, Martin Jacobson, Michael Tureniec, and Erik Sagstrom.

What made Isildur1 the most recognizable poker player from Sweden, despite others having far better results, was a combination of fearless play, an enigmatic reputation, and course taking on the best online poker players in the world –sometimes at the same time!

Even though poker was for the most part unknown in Sweden prior to the Internet, there are a couple of long-time players from the country like Bjorin and de Knjiff. However, due to the crazy tax laws that force players to pay based on the pot –won or lost—most of the high-stakes cash game players from Sweden remain fairly unknown, which is why the vast majority of the players listed above are tournament pros.

Here is a look at the top French poker players as well as some of their accomplishments:

[sws_grey_box box_size=”510″]Viktor Blom poker Viktor Blom

  • One of the most feared online poker players
  • Involved in the 10 largest pots in online poker history
  • Also known as the infamous isildur1
  • Team PokerStars Pro


[sws_grey_box box_size=”510″]Martin de Knijff poker Martin de Knijff

  • $3,372,383 in career tournament earnings
  • 2004 WPT Champion
  • Originally from from Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Now considered a bit of a recluse in the poker community


[sws_grey_box box_size=”510″]Martin Jacobson poker Martin Jacobson

  • $2,491,575 in career tournament earnings
  • 4 EPT Final tables since 2008, including two runner-up finishes, a 3rd place, and a 4th place finish
  • 2nd place finish in WPT Venice main Event
  • 6 WSOP cashes in just three years
  • Considered one of the best young tournament players in poker


[sws_grey_box box_size=”510″]Chris Bjorin poker Chris Bjorin

  • All-time leader amongst Swedish players with $5,094,404in career tournament earnings
  • $5 million in earnings without a cash above $334k!
  • 2-time WSOP bracelet winner
  • Over 50 WSOP cashes
  • Top sports-bettor


[sws_grey_box box_size=”510″]Johan Storakers poker Johan Storakers

  • $2,968,657 in career tournament earnings
  • Member of the Hendon Mob
  • Full Tilt Poker Red Pro
  • 8 WPT Main Event cashes


[sws_grey_box box_size=”510″]William Thorson poker William Thorson

  • $3,254,188 in career tournament earnings
  • 13th place in the 2006 WSOP Main Event
  • 22nd place in the 2010 WSOP Main Event
  • 4 Top Ten finishes in EPT Main Events
  • Has never won a major tournament title


Online Poker in Sweden

Online poker in Sweden is a dicey proposition for the player, not because of any inherent legal issues, but because of the strange tax laws that govern online poker in Sweden. We will get into the specifics of this in the next section, but basically Swedish players are taxed normally if the online poker room originates in the EU, but if the site is outside of the EU Swedish players are taxed by the amount they bet; win or lose!

This hasn’t stopped Swedish players from participating in online poker, and hasn’t even kept them away from non-EU sites like Full Tilt Poker, although it has caused the online poker world to be flooded with a number of high-stake, anonymous, Swedish players as they attempt to evade the tax-man.

Here is a look at the Top 3 online poker sites in Sweden:

[sws_blue_box box_size=”560″]
powerpoker Power Poker

  • Part of the popular iPoker Network
  • Scandinavian superstar Ilari “Ziigmund” Sahamies is the face of the site
  • Numerous language and deposit options focused on Sweden residents

pokerstars PokerStars

  • Largest online poker room in the world
  • Home base of Team PokerStars Pro Viktor “Isildur1” Blom
  • Even though the site operates outside the EU, Swedish players continue to play at PokerStars because of the game selection, reputation, and great promotions

everestpoker Everest Poker

  • Independent EU poker Room
  • Located inside the EU which allows Swedish players to participate without a huge tax burden
  • €1,000 Euro deposit bonus for Swedish Players


Where to play poker in Sweden

There isn’t much in the way of live poker to speak of in Sweden, which is why so many Swedish online poker players are willing to take their chances with skirting tax laws in their homeland to play online poker.

Making matters worse for Swedish players looking for a brick & mortar card-room is that the rake is usually high –since the casino is taxed pretty heavily in Sweden. Players will also have to keep track of their winnings as well.

Poker laws in Sweden

Ok, now down to the serious business of Swedish tax laws and online poker. As I stated above, playing on a non-EU online poker site is quite costly in terms of taxes. Players are taxed based on the amount they wager, which at an online poker table could very well mean betting 10-times to 100-times the amount you win, even for top players. For instance, if you make $50,000 playing online poker at PokerStars, you are taxed not on your profits, but on the amount of money you wagered in order to secure that profit –which over a year could very well be a couple of million dollars.

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