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Five of the Best Poker Players From Finland
Finland, or the Republic of Finland to give the country its official title, produces incredible poker players. The country has a population some 29 times smaller than the United States, yet its top five live poker tournament players have combined winnings of $30,699,638.
Finnish players tend to play a loose-aggressive style and are completely fearless. You find Finns bust from tournaments during the early stages or go all the way and take them down. There is little in between those two extremes.
Patrik Antonius is the Best Poker Player in Finland
Patrik Antonius is the biggest poker tournament winner in Finland. He has $12,013,263 in live MTT winnings and much more from grinding cash games. Antonius won the European Poker Tour Baden Main Event in 2005 for €288,180 ($343,365) He secured a $1,046,470 score a couple of months later after finishing second in the $15,300 Five Diamond World Poker Classic in Las Vegas.
Another second-place finish, this time in the A$250,000 Challenge at the 2012 Aussie Millions, came with $1,235,369 in prize money. That remained the Finland superstar’s best result until he banked $3,153,551 in 2018. Again, he finished as runner-up in a Super High Roller Bowl in Macau.
However, it is cash games where Antonius shines. He plays the highest stakes and is massively successful. Although he prefers live poker, he won more than $11.3 million in online poker cash games!
Juha Helppi Put Finland on the Poker Map
Juha Helppi is the player that put Finland on the poker map. Helppi has 230 live tournament results dating back to 2001! He was a regular feature in televised poker in both the United States and United Kingdom. However just because he played in made-for-TV tournaments does not mean he is not an incredible poker player.
Helppi has $7,993,924, placing him second in the Finland all-time money list. He reached this figure despite his largest score weighing in at $399,261. That was his reward for a runner-up finish in a €25,750 High Roller at the 2015 EPT Malta festival.
The Finn has two WSOP bracelets. One in a $10,000 Limit Hold’em event and another in a $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha tournament.
Joni Jouhkimainen the Finnish PLO Specialist
Joni Jouhkimainen of Helsinki, Finland, has $4,652,744 in live MTT earnings. His cashes date back to 2009, with his first six-figure score coming three years later. Jouhkimainen finished third in the EPT Barcelona Main Event for €404,050 ($496,436).
More recently, Joukimainen finished second in a pair of WSOP bracelet events. One of those events was in his favorite format: Pot-Limit Omaha. He is an incredible PLO player who is respected and feared in equal measure. However, he is amazing at No-Limit Texas Hold’em too!
Kimmo Kurko Crushes Mid-Stakes
Kimmo Kurko turned professional in 2009 and has $3,185,848 in live tournament winnings. Most of Kurko’s scores stem from mid-stakes tournaments in Europe. However, he took a shot at the €5,300 EPT Barcelona Main Event in 2015, which paid off.
Kurko finished second behind British pro Tom Middleton, but not before striking a deal. €625,000 was the original payout but Kurko banked €750,000 ($1,003,263) for his efforts.
Many of Kurko’s live cashes stem from Estonian tournaments. Many players from Finland grind in Estonia because of its close proximity to the country.
Jani Sointula Shone in the 2000s
Jani Sointula’s $2,906,182 winnings place him fifth in the Finland all-time money list. Sointula was quite prolific during the 2000s but his volume waned over the past couple of decades. His last cash was a win worth €8,690 ($9,709) in October 2019.
Sointula finished second in a £20,500 High Roller event at EPT London in 2010. he walked away with £335,000 ($524,240) that day, which is his biggest haul. His previous largest weighed in at €356,250 ($453,533). That was his reward for a runner-up finish in the 2006 WPT Grand Prix de Paris.