Currency: Euro (€)
Casinos with Poker
- Casino Helsinki
Online gambling, be it poker or sports betting, is very popular in Finland with hundreds of thousands of players in a nation of 5 million. Live poker, on the other hand, is in a whole different state with only one operating casino in the whole country. The second casino is expected to open up in 2020.
In early 2017, the government decided to merge three of its state-run companies dealing with different fields of gambling – casino operator RAY, lottery organizer Veikkaus and horse betting provider Fintoto – into one state-run mega-corporation named Veikkaus. Now, similar to what Svenska Spel used to be in Sweden or what Danske Spil is in Denmark, they have a legal monopoly on the country’s land-based gambling market.
The internet betting company PAF remained separate from Veikkaus – however, they too are owned by a local Finnish government. They also host games of chance on cruise ships.
Famous Finnish Poker Players
Patrik Antonius is one of the true legends of the game. He has quite a unique career path, he’s a former tennis player-turned male model-turned poker pro.
He used to regularly play on the most classic and most watched poker TV shows, such as Poker After Dark on NBC and High Stakes Poker on The Game Show Network. He also has over $12 million in live tournament earnings, according to the Hendon database – evidently, he leads the Finnish players’ list on the site.
He’s been playing the biggest buy-in poker tournaments since the early 2000’s to this day. His biggest score is winning $3.154 million for coming in 2nd in a HK$2,000,000 Triton event in Macau in 2018.
Second on Hendon’s Finland all time money list is Juha Helpi. The 42-year-old cardplayer has $7.934 million in tournament winnings to his name. He won a gold bracelet in the 2019 WSOP in the $10,000 Limit Hold’em event. He bagged over $306,000 for that victory. He also has a runner-up finish for $399,000 from the 2005 €25K EPT High Roller in Malta.
Ilari “Ziigmund” Sahamies plays high stakes PLO cash games online. He’s up over $300,000 after almost 500,000 hands. According to his Wikipedia page, he had a very special introduction to poker – at the age of 15, he allegedly played in Patrik Antonius’ home game.
Sami “LarsLuzak” Kelopuro has cashed for over $5.6 million in online MTT’s during his career. Meanwhile, Jens Kyllönen won the WSOP $25K PLO High Roller event for $1.127 million in 2016.
– Playing Live Poker in Finland –
Live Poker Legislation in Finland
Gambling laws in Finland are dictated by the Lotteries Act, passed in 2001. The state-run gambling company Veikkaus operates under the purview of the Ministry of the Interior.
The ministry states on their website: “A state monopoly is the most effective way of reducing the negative social and health effects of money games and preventing misuse”. Also, they pledge that all revenue coming from gambling, around €1.1 billion yearly, is going for public interest causes, such as “sports and physical education” or “health and social wellbeing”.
Live Poker Venue Finland
As we wrote in our intro, only one casino operates in the entire country. It’s located in the capital city, Helsinki.
Casino Helsinki’s poker room runs cash games every night. The No Limit Hold’em tables run on €2.5/2.5 and €5/€5 stakes, the Pot Limit Omaha tables also €2.5/€2.5 and €5/€5 stakes. They have a Bad Beat Jackpot.
As for tournaments, they usually have 3-4 events per week on their schedule. The games types vary between Hold’em, Omaha and Dealers Choice. The buy-ins range from €35 to €220.
– Casinos and Poker Rooms in Finland –
Online Poker Legislation in Finland
The company Paf offers fantasy sports, bingo, casino games and poker online. Because they are based in the autonomous region of Aland Islands, they avoided being merged into the central Finnish government’s Veikkaus.
Veikkaus also offers online poker to Finnish players on their website. They also have sports betting, which Paf does not.