The popularity of poker spans many parts of the globe. The game is widely accepted in most countries around the world, and Finland has produced its fair share of big name poker players. But the recent success of players from the Scandinavian country on the poker circuit has been less than stellar.
According to the Global Poker Index, the gold standard of poker tournament results ranking, not a single player from Finland appears in the GPI Top 100, nor is there a player from Finland in the running for the 2016 Player of the Year.
A look back at previous years doesn’t yield much different results. In the 2015 Player of the Year race, the best finish by a Finnish player was 89th place by Jussi Nevanlinna. In 2014, Aku Joentausta bested all of his fellow Finns by placing 86th, but we need to look back all the way to 2013 just to find a Finnish player that cracked the top 20. In that year, Joni Jouhkimainen came in 16th place.
One could look to the All Time Money list that is compiled by The Hendon Mob and there you would see two players from Finland that rank in the top 100, the best being Juha Helppi who ranks 89th overall with $ 6,931,063 in total poker tournament earnings and perhaps the most famous Finnish poker player of all, Patrik Antonius ranking 95th with $ 6,788,792.
But perhaps the reason that there are so few Finns competing for the top spots on many of the poker tournament leaderboards can be explained by the tendencies of Antonius who is known for his preference for high stakes cash games and the convenience of playing poker online instead of following the tournament circuit.
Check out one of Patrik’s most famous hands as he checks a full house three times against Tony G.
As a result of its membership in the European Union, many of the big online poker rooms are available in the country. A quick look at the information site pokeri shows there are plenty of online poker rooms available to players in Finland.
In fact, another famous player from Finland, Ilari Sahamies, also known as Ziigmund online, is famous for his cash game play as well. But once again we see that Ziigmund does not rank well when it comes to tournament play having never cracked the top 500 in the GPI and ranking 10,802 in the 2016 POY race.
It is possible however that recent success by Ziigmund could increase his interest in tournament poker. In October he took down a High Roller Turbo event at the Finnish Championships, his first first place finish in a major tournament in more than seven years.
But it was just last year that Ziigmund became a proud dad which reduces the chances that traveling the poker tournament circuit will become a priority for him anytime soon.
Check out Ziigmund in this High Stakes Poker hand against Phil Ivey.
Perhaps the poker player to gain the most notoriety in recent years has been Sara Chafak who is best known for winning the Miss Finland beauty pageant in 2012.
Chafak appeared on the poker reality show Shark Cage where in episode 7 she famously bluffed professional poker player Ronnie Bardah out of a big pot by getting him to fold a huge hand and as a result sending him off to spend some time in the Shark Cage.
You can check out the full episode below, or scroll past it to just see the big bluff hand.