PokerPlayer’s look at the amazing Poker Million VIII final table and exclusive chat with Juha Helppi

PokerPlayer chats to Poker Million finalist Juha Helppi ahead of Friday’s finale

The Full Tilt Poker Million VIII final is live on Sky Sports 1 this coming Friday 4th December at 7.30pm and it has the most stacked final table line-up you could ever wish to see. Controversial cash game star Luke ‘_FullFlush1_’ Schwartz is the chipleader but he’s closely followed by UK sensation and November Nine member James Akenhead in second place.

Poker MIllion VIII Final Line-up

1. Luke Schwartz, 397,000
2. James Akenhead, 338,000
3. Taylor Caby, 202,000
4. Dag Martin Mikkelsen, 160,000
5. Peter Vasilou, 154,000
6. Juha Helppi, 149,000
7. Full Tilt online qualifier

We caught up with Premier League Poker veteran, Poker Million finalist and InterPoker Pro Juha Helppi to get his views ahead of the big finale…

Do you have a strategy coming in knowing that you are the shortstack?

Of course. However I don’t know the seating order yet and my strategy will vary depending on that. We draw the seats just before we start to play.

How much play do you have with your stack vs the blinds?

According to the original plan the starting blinds should be 5,000/10,000. This is too high in my opinion, because even the chipleader will have less than 40BB then. I will have 15BB and the online qualifier only 10BB. This makes it very hard to play poker so we are only going to see all-in shoving unless they make the starting level a bit cheaper. Even in our original heats and in the semifinal everyone started with 50BB so I don’t understand why the stacks are 10BB-40BB in the final.

How much experience do you have playing with the other finalists?

Not much at all. I have played against Luke Schwartz a few times and I pretty much know how he plays. He is usually very aggressive, but I am sure that he has other gears too if needed.

I have also played with Peter Vasiliou in the semi-final. I think he will probably start playing tight and hoping a few players bust before he has to gamble.

What do you make of Taylor Caby and James Akenhead’s play?

I haven’t played with Taylor Caby or James Akenhead. I have heard that they are all pretty aggressive players, but if we really start with 5,000/10,000 in blinds there is not too much room for big moves.

Are there any players you are actively looking to avoid or target on the final table?

I will probably try to target the most active players and avoid playing against tighter opponents. Of course it all depends a lot about my position at the table.

Will you be paying any attention on moving up the pay ladder or are you solely concerned with winning?

I am mostly just trying to win, but if I don’t win of course I care about whether I finish 7th or 2nd. I think there is a pretty big chance that I am the first player out, because I have to gamble pretty quickly.

Do you think your experience in televised shootouts gives you an edge on the field?

It might give me a small edge, at least I hope so. I don’t have any problems playing in front of TV cameras, I will always play my A-game. Some players might be afraid to make big bluffs, because they don`t want to look stupid on TV.

Will this be the greatest moment in your career if you can win the Poker Million?

I think it would be. Winning $500,000 would be my biggest win moneywise and this tournament always has a really tough field. The Poker Million is a well known tournament so it has title value too. It’s an important day coming up!

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