Finnish Poker Legend Juha Helppi Looking to End WSOP Bracelet Drought

Juha Helppi

Each year, there are always talks about some of the best poker players in the world who have not yet won themselves a coveted gold World Series of Poker bracelet. Among those names is undoubtedly Finnish professional poker player Juha Helppi.

With around $7.5 million in live tournament earnings across almost two decades, and three runner-up finishes in WSOP bracelet events, Helppi is definitely looking to get this monkey off his back in a big way.

"It's been quite frustrating,” Helppi admitted to PokerNews. I've been second here twice. Third once, fourth once, fifth once and also second in World Series of Poker Europe. I've been so close to winning all of those times."

Today, Helppi is in the home stretch of Event #72: $10,000 Limit Hold'em Championship, coming in to the day second in chips with just 15 players remaining. While the $309,622 in prize money for the winner would not be his biggest score, Helppi has played long enough to know what a win would mean today.

Building a Bankroll Playing Limit Hold'em

"Hopefully it's this time, because I started playing poker 20 years ago and I started with limit hold'em. I built my bankroll from nothing to quite a big sum in limit hold'em, so it would be really nice to win this championship. It means a lot to me," said an emotional Helppi.

"It kind of made me start my professional career because with that money I kind of decided to give it a try."

The Finnish pro began with just a $200 bankroll online and never looked back. Helppi now has years of experience under his belt, feeling very relaxed as cards got in the air with big money on the line. "Actually I feel much less pressure in limit hold'em because it's quite an easy game. It's a lot about the cards," explained Helppi.

"I can make some extra bets and save a few bets, but if I get bad cards I can't do much. In no-limit it's a bit different. You have maybe one key decision and the whole tournament is about that. In here, there's many decisions and it's a lot about the cards."

A Long and Consistent Career

When asked what his favorite in moment in poker has been thus far, Helppi brought up his first win in 2002 at the $300 No-Limit Hold'em World Poker Tour Ultimate Bet Poker Classic in Palm Beach, Aruba. He earned himself $50,000, defeating Anssi Tuulivirda heads up, and blowing past Kathy Liebert and Woody Moore on the final table as well.

"I didn't have a lot of money back then, and it kind of made me start my professional career because with that money I kind of decided to give it a try. I was an amateur before that. I played a lot, but I didn't really play for a living. That was 17 years ago," smiled Helppi.

"Actually I feel much less pressure in limit hold'em because it's quite an easy game. It's a lot about the cards."

Helppi has certainly made a name for himself since going pro almost two decades ago, boasting 19 six-figure cashes. He has also booked an impressive list of 22 live tournament wins, with many European Poker Tour High Roller trophies on his mantle.

His biggest career cash came in the 2015 €25,750 No Limit Hold'em High Roller at EPT Malta for his runner-up finish, earning €354,440 ($399,261 USD). Helppi's biggest career win was at EPT France in the 2009 €20,300 No Limit Hold'em High Roller for €192,000 ($254,598 USD).

Here is a look at Helppi's final table finishes at the WSOP:

YearEventBuy-inPlaceEarnings
2003Event #5: $2,000 No-Limit Hold'em$2,0004th$45,420
2006Event #34: $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em (Rebuy)$1,0002nd$331,144
2013Event #48: $2,500 Limit Hold'em 6-Handed$2,5003rd$82,956
2013Event #4: €1,650 Pot-Limit Omaha WSOP-E€1,6502nd€43,441
2015Event #60: $25,000 High Roller Pot-Limit Omaha$25,0005th$247,754
2018Event #70: $3,000 Limit Hold'em 6-Handed$3,0002nd$95,380

Juha Helppi is closing in on the final table in Event #72: $10,000 Limit Hold'em Championship, so follow the Live Updates to see if he can finally clinch that elusive WSOP gold bracelet.

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