Finnish Poker Giants & Online Gaming Boom – PokerTube

16 Aug

Finland is famous for many things: sunless winters, nightless summers and their almost-eponymous vodka, Finlandia, which fuelled many a poker home-game in my long distant teens – and of course when it comes to poker, Finland has produced many of the finest online players in the game’s history.

There will be very few fans of the game who haven’t envied the successes –and Nordic good looks – of Patrik Antonius, a beast on the virtual and live felt whose clashes with the likes of Tom Dwan, Isildur, Ivey and other famous names have gone down in poker history.

Antonius isn’t the only name to have emerged from the land which the Vikings refused to attack with any great fervour, and perhaps the audacious and aggressive nature of the Finns at the poker table are a throwback to those early days, one blogger describing his ancestors as people who ‘lived worshipping their brutish gods, drinking and snorting powdered fly agaric mushrooms, occasionally axe-murdering each other or freezing to death!’

Most of the poker players to have emerged from Finland in the last decade or so have been of the ‘crazy Scandinavian mode’, learning their poker trade via the likes of – online casinos and poker rooms being a must for Finns looking to while away those endless winter nights by playing cards, gambling and generally having fun while waiting for the sun to rise.

One of those, Ilari ‘ziigmund’ Sahamies, was described last year by one of my colleagues thus: ‘Whenever he sat at a poker table, live or online, his opponents got the chills. He attacked and attacked with reckless abandon, not caring about the money in play and definitely not caring about the players sitting next to him. He was one of the best trash talkers at the poker tables and he even went so far that he accepted the challenge of eating worms and moving disgusting oysters with his mouth.’

That, it seems, is par for the course for Finns in general – quiet, intelligent and unassuming by day – poker and every other type of beasts by night!

If ‘ziigmund’ no longer plays at such a high volume in the nosebleed stakes due to fatherhood and rap (!) what of that other online monster from the Finnish forests, Jens ‘Jeans89’ Kyllönen?

Up well over $5½million from his adventures on the virtual felt, mainly in PLO, ‘Jeans89’ also translated that form into live play, another $2million+ playing some of the toughest and biggest events on the calendar, and last year was named Player of the Year at the Finnish Poker Awards.

The 4th name which has to be mentioned is Juha Helppi, 40 years old this year and one of the Finns who made online poker in his country so successful. His two decades as a poker player started when his friends introduced him to ‘internet poker’, using the start-up bonuses which every Finnish online casino and card-room offers – and he claims that every year has seen him “win more than the previous year” on the virtual tables.

If we could all say that we’d be a much happier bunch!

Finland’s remarkable ability to keep producing top class players despite being such a small and somewhat isolated nation is not down to pure chance – just as the forests keep growing, so too does the market for online poker, gambling and gaming – the Finnish government regulating these things, but in typical Finnish fashion happy for its citizens to make their own choices as to where they play.

Choosing your site from among so many isn’t an easy task, of course, but that’s where people like Henri Tarpila and come in handy. Experts in the gambling field tend to provide for, and produce, experts at the tables.

So, who will be the next expert to emerge from the Finnish pack and transfer their online victories into global success?

Time will tell, but if the likes of 2012’s Miss Finland, Sara Chafak, who appeared on the poker reality show Shark Cage, continue to promote the game there will be plenty of hopefuls to choose from in the card-playing land of online casinos where the northern winters last 200 days! And avoiding Vikings is a bonus you can’t afford to miss!

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NBA Power Rankings: Warriors are No. 1 (duh!); where do free agency players land? –

Free agency is almost wrapped up, with only a stragglers and restricted free agents without teams. Big-name stars have moved and the West is somehow tougher than it has been in years. 

In this exercise, we’re sizing up what we saw last year, what we’ve seen this summer and relating it to next season. This figures to look different in three months, because free agency always takes time to unpack. For instance, last summer it looked like the Rockets would be worse on defense and set to be a middling team. After James Harden invested so much in Mike D’Antoni’s system during training camp, we saw the payoff as Houston became a contender. 

Right now,  the NBA is more top heavy than it has been in years. The last “good” team is probably ranked 19th, which demonstrates how deep the league’s talent runs. It’s no secret the Warriors are overwhelmingly favored to win it all, putting them at No. 1. Usually there are a handful in that category, but Golden State is a cut above today. That next level probably ends after No. 6, where the Thunder reside. Nonetheless, all of this summer’s moves will create excitement and leave a lot of questions unanswered.  

Biggest Movers
17 Timberwolves


The Warriors got better. It seems a salary cap, a CBA and roster-structure rules would prevent a 67-win team with four All-NBA players and fresh off a second title in three years from getting better. Yet they added quality (Nick Young, Omri Casspi) and kept Shaun Livingston, Zaza Pachulia and, most important, Andre Iguodala. It was already unfair. Their summer makes it double-dog-super-unfair. 67-15


They let the GM (David Griffin) who built their championship roster go, then swung and missed on his replacement (Chauncey Billups) by reportedly offering him less than he’s paid for broadcasting. Their big upgrades are Jose Calderon and Jeff Green. Rumors continue to swirl like a tornado that LeBron James could be gone in 2018. The Cavs are perplexing, full of drama and the league’s second-best team. So everything’s normal. 11 51-31


Very small moves this summer, adding Rudy Gay and re-signing Patty Mills. They’re undecided about whether Jonathon Simmons will return and Dewayne Dedmon is assumed to be gone. But they’re here because they’re the Spurs and still have Kawhi Leonard. Rumored offseason target Chris Paul went to division rival Houston and LaMarcus Aldridge’s status and fit remain mysteries. Could this season be like 2015 when they slipped a bit? 1 61-21


Can Chris Paul and James Harden share the ball enough for this to work? Will Paul adapt and embrace Mike D’Antoni’s style, central to Houston’s success but does not mesh with CP3’s instincts? Will the depth they traded (or may still trade if they land Carmelo Anthony) weaken them overall? We don’t know the answers to those questions, but landing Chris Paul — at the very least — puts them ahead of the Celtics. 3 55-27


Gordon Hayward is the athletic wing they needed, and before the Avery Bradley trade they were No. 4 here. Nonetheless, this starting five and terrific young reserves — Jayson Tatum is tearing up the summer league — could challenge Cleveland. The question: How serious is that challenge when remembering how the Cavs clobbered the Celts in the Eastern Conference finals? 1 53-29


Paul George wasn’t just a daring deal under cover of darkness by Sam Presti, it may produce the best fit next to Russell Westbrook outside of, say, a fella who just won Finals MVP out by the Bay. George is a terrific off-ball weapon. If he and Westbrook click, look out. And the Thunder didn’t stop there. They added Patrick Patterson (on a steal of a contract) and Raymond Felton, who will make lineups more versatile and improve depth. 2 47-35


They’re not as good as last season because they lost depth, including starting forward DeMarre Carroll (regardless of his injury issues). Adding C.J. Miles helps. And young players like Norman Powell and Bebe Nogueira can fill in gaps. The question remains: Can this team close on the Cavs or is being “regular-season good” good enough? 4 51-31


The Wizards were one crazy Kelly Olynyk game from reaching the conference finals. But they made no key additions, leaving their bench unimproved. They must bank on improved chemistry and factors like Ian Mahinmi’s improved health and Kelly Oubre’s development to make a leap. John Wall’s 2019 free agency is on the distant horizon; he has not signed a max extension. 2 49-33


This seems high for a team so brutally young, but the Wolves upgraded at several key positions and added Jimmy Bulter, who becomes their best player. So expectations are sky high. However, with similar expectations last season, they fell on their faces. Are they primed to make a jump? Or will the cursed anchor of inexperience again weigh them down? 17 31-51


They found an identity last season. The Bucks may have to adjust defensively after Toronto solved their trap in the playoffs, but they still almost took out the Raptors in that first-round series. Giannis Antetokounmpo gets better every day, and their young core is only scratching its potential. 1 42-40


Grit-N-Grind is dead with Zach Randolph going to Sacramento (and Tony Allen’s future in doubt), as Memphis adapts to today’s perimeter game. They return a talented club led by Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, and some of the young talent is intriguing. If RFA JaMychal Green does not return, they will drop considerably next time we rank teams. 3 43-39


Back in 2014, a club with Blake Griffin, Danilo Gallinari and DeAndre Jordan would be among league’s better teams. But Griffin’s slip because of injuries, Chris Paul’s departure and their iffy bench make these Clippers just another West playoff team. This is Griffin’s opportunity to show everyone how good he is, because expectations are shrinking every minute. 8 51-31


This one may boggle the mind, considering their 2017 finish, lack of upgrades and teams behind them. But most close regular-season games are considered coin-flips by coaches, players and execs, and Charlotte was 0-9 in 3-point games last season. They are better than their record showed. A small bounce-back puts them in the weak East playoff picture. 6 36-46


Couldn’t land a marquee free agent but had oodles of cap space after the Chris Bosh buyout. Went all in on a team that got hot for two months then fell apart when Dion Waiters went down. Committed four-year deals to players considered replaceable on the East’s No. 9 (one spot out of the playoffs) seed. A gamble, but this may become an East playoff team, whatever that means. 4 41-41


Denver added Paul Millsap, its best free agent signing since Kenyon Martin a decade ago (seriously) and can count on improvement from Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris and Jamal Murray. The big question for this team? How will the improved offense look now that key assistant Chris Finch left for New Orleans? 2 40-42

Trail Blazers

Portland’s chances depend on whether you believe in Jusuf Nurkic. If you think Nurkic fever is sustainable and he can stay healthy, go all in on a talented team with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. But you should remember that before the Nurkic surge, the Blazers weren’t mediocre. They were bad. There’s a lot to fix, even with Nurkic. 5 41-41


With Alvin Gentry at the helm, the Pels figured to struggle defensively, yet they finished ninth per 100 possessions last season. The offense never found a rhythm with DeMarcus Cousins because of suspensions (shocker) and injuries. Will a full camp, some new coaching and development lift them? Better hope so. Cousins is a free agent in less than a year. 6 34-48


This is no incompetent team that fumbled away its star (Gordon Hayward). They did everything right and showed Hayward love by matching a max deal (but not the full five-year max) in 2014, yet he walked. They have talent. They got Ricky Rubio, but need leaps from Rodney Hood and Dante Exum to remain a playoff team in the toughest division in the toughest conference in the NBA. 13 51-31


Yes, Joel Embiid is dominant. Markelle Fultz (despite an ankle sprain) and Ben Simmons should be good. But young teams must learn to win, and it takes time. Free agent vets J.J. Redick and Amir Johnson can’t show them the ropes in only one season. They may make the playoffs, but winning must be learned on a squad where many key players aren’t old enough to rent a car. 9 28-54


They are almost certain to re-sign Nerlens Noel since they have his restricted free agent rights. Beyond that, not many upgrades. Dennis Smith Jr. is generating Rookie of the Year buzz, but we’ll have to see how he does with Rick Carlisle, who is notoriously tough on point guards. They could be better than last season, but have done little to make headway in the West. 1 33-49


Signed vets George Hill and Zach Randolph to big-money deals. They’ll take minutes away from youngsters who need development (Dave Joerger does not like playing youngsters while sacrificing wins), but the team will improve. And they add De’Aaron Fox to a good mix of veterans and young talent. The Kings look like a competent franchise for the first time in a while. 9 32-50


Trading for Avery Bradley is a clear upgade over Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, but the broken mechanisms of Stan Van Gundy’s timepiece remain in place. Unless Reggie Jackson bounces back and Andre Drummond finds consistency, it’s hard to see Detroit back in the playoff picture, an arc seemed to be riding back in 2016. 2 37-45


They’re “not as bad,” or somewhere between “could be good” and “definitely bad.” Lonzo Ball is exciting, but rookie point guards have a lot to learn, and there’s no telling if Brandon Ingram or Julius Randle make necessary leaps. They wisely didn’t waste cap space while waiting for Paul George, yet don’t have a player among the 10 best under 22 in the league. 2 26-56


They didn’t trade Kristaps Porzingis. That’s good. But they gave Tim Hardaway Jr. — perhaps an underrated RFA — a four-year, $71M deal after trading him two seasons ago. That’s bad. Looks like Carmelo Anthony will be traded before the season starts. Could be good and bad. But you can be sure the Knicks will not be good in 2018, barring something unforseen. 3 31-51


They have a lot of young talent, and this is the season to figure out their core, and possibly trade Eric Bledsoe. A young is no sure thing, but Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender is among the best kiddo combos in the league. It’s just going to take time and working out systems at both ends of the court. 4 24-58


Yeah, that’s right. The Nets won’t be the worst team in the league. They were pesky last season, yet lost and lost. They also hung in a lot of games … and won a few. Jeremy Lin also was out most of the season. They added D’Angelo Russell and DeMarre Carroll, but lost Brook Lopez. There’s enough here to be bad but not awful. 4 20-62


May seem high for a team that lost its Nos. 1, 2, 4 and 6 players in Value Over Replacement player via Basketball Reference, but they threw enough money at decent replacements like Darren Collison and Bojan Bogdanovic to think they won’t be abysmal. At the same time, no one should be surprised if they become the worst team in the league. 12 42-40


They wisely sat out free agency instead trying to manufacture wins by overpaying veterans. Jonathan Isaac could be the steal of the draft. But this roster remains a mess and it’s not easy to identify the best player. Aaron Gordon needs a bounce-back season, hopefully with more time at power forward, and better health. 4 29-53


The longer one looks at this roster, the worse it gets. If Dwyane Wade and the Bulls reacy a buyout agreement, does that make Robin Lopez their best player on opening night — given Zach LaVine’s injury? Think about that. We’re in horror territory here. 13 41-41


Imagine if you (or me) really thought Dennis Schröder struggled to make the Hawks better last season but then realized he’s their best player. Now consider that Miles Plumlee is their third highest-paid player. Given those factors, a case could be made for any of the six preceding teams as worst in the league, but Atlanta’s the bet heret. The tank is on the way. 18 43-39
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GF Machining Solutions secures US GKN Aerospace order – Aerospace Manufacturing and Design (press release)

Signing celebration between GF Machining Solutions LLC and GKN Aerospace. Left to right: Martin Thorden, general manager and vice president, GKN Aerospace Engine Systems New England; Philipp Hauser, head of Turbine Group – Liechti, GF Machining Solutions LLC; Jennifer Riley, supply chain director, GKN Aerospace Engine Systems New England; Mike Costello, sales manager North America / Turbine Group – Liechti, GF Machining Solutions LLC; Jon Ford, director of engineering, GKN Aerospace Engine Systems New England.

GF Machining Solutions LLC, a division of Georg Fischer, has won an order from GKN Aerospace New England, Inc., Manchester, Connecticut, for high-precision milling machine tools, software, and automation. GKN Aerospace, an operation of GKN plc, is one of the world’s largest independent Tier 1 aerospace suppliers.

Liechti Engineering AG, Langnau, Switzerland – one of the companies under the GF Machining Solutions brand umbrella – will build the machine tools for GKN Aerospace, which will use them to produce stator vanes for jet engines.

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No guns at the St. Louis Zoo, judge rules –

ST. LOUIS • The St. Louis Zoo is no place to carry guns, a judge has ruled.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Joan Moriarty on Friday ruled that a gun rights activist from Cincinnati who had pressed the issue, along with anyone else with knowledge of the order, is barred from concealing or carrying guns inside the zoo, a publicly-funded institution.

Moriarity’s order makes permanent a temporary ban issued in June 2015 after gun rights activist Jeffry Smith said he planned to lead a group of armed people into the zoo to challenge its policy prohibiting guns. The day after the temporary order, Smith entered the zoo wearing an empty holster.

The judge said the zoo fits state law’s definition of a “gun-free zone” in that it is both an educational facility and a gated amusement park as defined by the state’s open-carry statute.

“The zoo has shown that the safety, patronage and image of the zoo will be compromised if visitors are permitted to carry firearms or other weapons on zoo property, which would significantly harm the level of visitorship, as well as the mission, the public image and autonomy of the zoo as an institution,” Moriarity wrote in her ruling.

Moriarty’s ruling said the zoo’s gun ban does not violate the constitutional rights of gun owners because it is “narrowly tailored to support a reasonable government purpose” and would survive “strict scrutiny” as stipulated in a 2014 gun rights amendment to the Missouri Constitution.

The zoo had argued in court that its gun ban is legal because the 90-acre campus, which has on-site preschool and children’s education programs, constitutes a classroom. The zoo said it also believes its campus meets the state’s definition of a gated amusement park. More than 486,000 students participated in the zoo’s educational programs in 2015.

Smith, the gun rights activist, could not be reached for comment Monday but he has said he believes Missouri’s gun laws and the 2014 state constitutional amendment guaranteeing gun rights mean people can carry firearms in publicly funded institutions such as the zoo. 

His lawyer, Jane Hogan, said Monday that she and Smith disagree with the decision and will appeal it to a higher court. She said Moriarty has made an “overly broad” interpretation of terms mentioned in the state’s gun laws.

“To say that it’s a school or an amusement park, then any McDonald’s that has a playground would be an amusement park because they have rides and sell food,” Hogan said. “The legislature has given us no guidance here. When they say ‘amusement park,’ we don’t know what they mean because they use ‘place of amusement’ in other statutes. So we have to assume they mean something different.”

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NFL 1000: Ranking the Most Accurate Passers – Bleacher Report

Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press

When we talk about quarterback accuracy, we’re talking about a lot of different things. Accuracy, like any other crucial quarterback attribute, requires a full picture and a lot of context to be truly appreciated. The most accurate quarterbacks at any level are the ones who can throw the ball to all parts of the field, despite pressure, above and beyond the quality of his targets, and in ways that make it easier for his receivers to catch it than for the defenders trying to prevent that. 

Completion percentage is often cited as the ultimate arbiter of accuracy, but it only tells part of the story. Kansas City’s Alex Smith and Miami’s Ryan Tannehill tied for sixth in the league in completion percentage last season at 67.1 percent. Smith attempted exactly 100 more passes (489 to 389), but neither quarterback was great in the deep passing game—Smith’s Air Yards comprised 45.1 percent of his total passing yards, and Tannehill’s Air Yards made up 50.2 percent of his yardage. The difference with Tannehill, and why he’s on this top 10 where Smith is not, is Tannehill’s ability to make the more difficult throw. 

But compare that to Jameis Winston’s 66.1 percent, Cam Newton’s 61.5 percent or Marcus Mariota’s 61.2 percent. When you have a quarterback who isn’t as reliant on yards after the catch to provide consistent accuracy, it obviously helps your offense and forces defenders to deal with bigger field chunks play to play.

Of course, throwing the ball deep generally leads to a lower completion percentage—that’s just part of the risk/reward equation. Winston finished 23rd in completion percentage last year at 60.8 percent, Newton finished 30th at 52.9 percent and Mariota finished 20th with 61.2 percent.

So, there needs to be a balance. You also have to look at the openness and diversity of the passing playbook, because the creation and implementation of designed openings are an obvious help to any quarterback and will increase that quarterback’s completion rate—or, at least, the opportunity for a higher completion rate.

Additionally, the talent of the receiver group must be considered. Does the quarterback have a group of targets that allow him to throw in a receiver’s general area, with the knowledge that the receiver has the kind of catch radius that will aid him? Is there a deep receiver who can take the top off coverage and open things up for the guys underneath? Do those receivers run their routes with the right spacing and rhythm?

And, is the quarterback constantly under pressure due to a subpar offensive line? That can certainly lead to busted potential completions and a lower overall efficiency rate.

The most accurate quarterbacks are the ones who achieve peak efficiency regardless of these factors. They have the physical talent, mental acuity and understanding of timing and rhythm to make their—or any—passing game go.

All advanced stats courtesy of and unless otherwise indicated.

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