MAIDSTONE, England, March 7 /CNW/ - Juha Helppi celebrated his 30th
birthday in style and avenged his inner demons by winning the inaugural
www.PartyPoker.com Premier League Poker title. Helppi, from Helsinki, Finland
showed skill and patience in abundance to overcome a world class field in a
unique televised tournament, filmed at Maidstone Studios, Kent, UK.
As well as celebrating his landmark birthday, the flying Finn, who has
also been a national paintball champion, shot down poker legend Phil Hellmuth,
who won his landmark 10th WSOP bracelet at his expense last year.
"This was not about the money," said Helppi. "If I hadn't beaten Phil it
would have hurt really bad. This is a big title with a top quality field and
it happened as I hit a big landmark in my life. I will remember this forever.
It is a perfect birthday present."
Hellmuth had taken the field by storm earlier in the week and went into
the final as chip leader. Juha had finished 3rd in the league table but had
impressed all his fellow players with his unbreakable focus. Juha continued:
"Phil really wanted to win this one and didn't take it too well, I think I
managed to tilt him on one occasion. This does help with losing out on the
bracelet and is satisfying because the league structure means that skill was
so important." The final table lasted over 7 hours with 1.6 million chips in
play and blinds starting at 1000/2000. The first player to be eliminated,
England's serial televised tournament winner Ian Frazer went after five hours.
Phil was disappointed and instantly announced that he wanted to play the
Finn heads-up for US$100,000 but the winner was too busy calling his
girlfriend back home and checking on his two-month year old son. The Poker
Brat certainly didn't disappoint those who love or loathe him with his banter
and behaviour all week. His table talk, in particular, with Tony G, the
Devilfish and the under the table camera was as lively as ever. However, the
Madison Kid was gracious in defeat, "I have to give Juha credit, he played
very well all week," said Hellmuth.
Hellmuth eventually finished third after his kings were cracked by
Helppi's two pair--when Juha called a pot sized raise with 8-7 off suit before
the flop-and this when Hellmuth melted down and turned into the Poker Brat.
Hellmuth shouted, "You are such a donkey, how could you call a US$50,000
reraise with eight seven off suit. You tried to give me the chip lead!" German
WSOP bracelet holder Eddy Scharf finished runner-up after going all in with
5-6 suited against Juha's Ace-2 off suit. At the time the Finn had a 4-1 chip
lead. Liz Lieu finished fourth, Vicky Coren finished 5th and Ian Frazer
A PartyPoker.com spokesman said: "Halfway through the tournament we
thought we would just have to give the trophy to Phil Hellmuth and halfway
through the tournament we thought we'd have to bring in a mediator so that
Devilfish, Tony G and Hellmuth could resolve the deep seated issues they have
with each other."
"Juha was a worthy champion and was respected by all his fellow players.
Everybody was thrilled by the format of tournament and nobody involved doubts
that it has a big future."
The series, developed by Matchroom Sport, features 12 of the world's best
players playing in a unique league format for a US$500,000 pot. Each player
bought in for US$20,000, with PartyPoker.com adding US$260,000. The field
included Phil Hellmuth, Dave 'The Devilfish' Ulliott, Tony G, Andy Black,
Kiril Gerasimov, Liz Lieu, Ian Frazer, Roland De Wolfe, Vicky Coren, Juha
Helppi, Kenna James and Eddy Scharf. PartyPoker.com Premier League Poker is
due to be broadcast in the UK on Channel 4 and internationally later this
"Premier League Poker featured a fantastic format filled with skill,
twists and turns, great players and made for electric television." Phil
"This is a totally different concept and will make great television, it's
like a poker Big Brother. It sets a new bar for televised poker." Dave "The
"The Premier League is the best poker event I have ever played in. A real
breakthrough for poker." Tony G
"This is one of the most exciting events I have played in. The tournament
really highlighted skill." Liz Lieu
"It's the best made for television tournament I've participated in."
Roland De Wolfe
"It's the most fun I've had in a room with a group full of men since the
summer of 1976...but that is a different story." Vicky Coren
"The PartyPoker.com Premier League event was something that everyone
involved in will never forget. When we set out on this project we always
envisaged that the event would be something special but what evolved was the
most entertaining poker spectacle that the public will ever witness. Twelve
grueling heats, four heads up battles and one stunning final table that
features tears, joy, verbal warfare and a camaraderie amongst players that has
never been seen before." Eddie Hearn, Director, Matchroom Sport
PartyPoker.com is a popular member of PartyGaming Plc's growing suite of
online games that includes www.PartyCasino.com, PartyBingo.com,
www.PartyBets.com, PartyGammon.com, Gamebookers.com and EmpirePoker.com.
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