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JUHA HELPPI



Juha Helppi
2006 Jason Kirk  


Juha Helppi - Source LasVegasVegas.com

Juha Helppi hails from Helsinki, Finland, a location that rarely produces faces familiar to North American audiences (with the possible exception of hockey players). Unlike many of his countrymen, however, Helppi is a familiar face to fans of the World Poker Tour in North America. That's mostly thanks to his appearances on several WPT tournaments since 2003. He has enjoyed considerable success both in Europe and abroad since bursting onto the scene, with his career earnings being split nearly evenly between events in the Americas and events held elsewhere.

Helppi was originally a poker dealer at a casino in Finland, but he came to prominence during the very first World Poker Tour event held in Aruba. He held off fierce competition from Kathy Liebert and Phil Gordon to claim the first-ever WPT title and $50,000 in prizes. Helppi's career winnings may not be on quite the same level as some other WPT champions, but that's mostly due to the timing of his WPT win. Had he won a WPT tournament just a year or two later, he would most likely have taken home over $1 million for his efforts. In the place of one big win, Helppi has built his career winnings on the back of consistency. He's earned his $1 million in career winnings by playing as many events as possible.

One of the things that's easy to notice on Helppi's list of career results is that he is a truly international player. He plays in big events in the United States along with the rest of the poker world, but he also plays in smaller events elsewhere. Austria, Estonia, St. Maarten, Spain, Ireland, St. Kitts, and France have all been witness to the Finn's poker prowess. Most of the time these tournaments feature smaller buy-ins than those at the World Series or WPT preliminary events, but Helppi consistently makes the final table in these events. There is one European event with a monster buy-in that has seen Helppi perform extremely well - he took 2nd in the 2004 Monte Carlo Millions for a $200,000 win.

In terms of the big events, Helppi has a solid track record of cashes in WPT events. He was invited to the first WPT Battle of the Champions, where he placed 4th - ahead of Gus Hansen and Chris Karagulleyan but behind Howard Lederer, Jose Rosenkrantz, and winner Ron Rose. In 2005 he took 10th at the $25,000 WPT Championship at Bellagio. He then turned around and took 2nd at the Grand Prix de Paris in summer 2005, taking home over $300,000 for his biggest career cash. Helppi has also enjoyed some success at the WSOP. In 2003 he cashed in two events, including a 4th place final table appearance in the $2,000 no-limit hold'em event that was good for over $45,000. In 2004 he once again cashed in two events, including the $10,000 Main Event, and in 2005 he took 30th in the $2,500 pot-limit hold'em event.

Juha Helppi may not be best-known of all the WPT champions, but he is a solid and consistent player who has proven his skill in dozens of tournaments over the last several years. Anyone who ignores this Finn at his tournament table does so at his own peril!


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