Juha Helppi: I Hope GPL Will Work Because TV Poker is Declining


Juha Helppi is one of the highest-profile Finnish players in poker.

The veteran pro is a veritable institution in European poker and has cashes that date back over 15 years.

His long career and stalwart reputation have also earned him a regular voice on poker panels including for the Global Poker Masters this year.

His game hasn't lost a step, either, as he just came second in the Super High Roller Event at EPT Malta. The SHR had 74 entries, most of whom were world-class players.

Helppi acquired a big chip lead that he kept until heads-up when Mike “Timex” McDonald came back from the short stack at the final table to snatch the title away. We caught up with him shortly thereafter.

PokerListings: If we say “congratulations on your second place” would that be more of a compliment or an insult?

Juha Helppi: Definitely a compliment, although I know what you’re getting at. It was a very strong field and coming second is an achievement.

Still, I’m a little disappointed, of course, that I couldn’t take my chip lead to victory. I was still 2-1 ahead when heads-up began.

Card dead at wrong time.

PL: Then what happened?

JH: I just went card dead. In the heads-up I couldn’t catch anything anymore.

I lost almost every hand. But I also think that McDonald played the best at that final table.

PL: You were a jury member at the European Poker Awards last March during the Global Poker Masters.

JH: Yes, we discussed the winners of the different categories and I think we did OK.

I’ve been picked for a lot of juries; I don’t know why.

PL: The host of the GPM – Alex Dreyfus – is now aspiring to get the Global Poker League going. What do you think about its chances?

JH: I haven’t followed the development very closely because I don’t expect to be part of it.

PL: You don’t think it’s going to be a success?

JH: I do believe it’ll be successful but I don’t think I’ll be drafted. If I was, I would be in it.

PL: You’re number one in the GPI for Finland.

Juha Helppi
Finns good company.

JH: Yes, but I expect players to vote for their friends. There are a lot of good German, French and British players.

The ones drafted are going to pick their friends to be in the team.

I don’t blame them, I’d do the same. Finnish players are nice to travel with and nice to have around.

PL: The concept of the GPL is completely different from traditional poker. Can they make it work?

JH: Well, I hope it’s going to work because televised poker as we know it is declining.

There are less and less televised tournaments and it doesn’t look very good for the future.

PL: Every single team event in the past has failed. Why can this one succeed?

JH: I guess it would be different if the top players are really into it. The events that attracted large audiences were the ones with big names, for example in cash games.

Big cash games are no longer seen on TV since the US market died.

PL: If Alex Dreyfus would call you tomorrow and ask you to get involved in the GPL, would you be interested?

JH: Yes, of course.

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