Being described as aggressive in poker is non-negotiable if you’re to get anywhere. Better still you need some stronger words to help build your reputation on the rail. ‘Sick’ used to mean that but gets used so many times now that it’s lost its meaning. But when it comes to Finnish pro Illari Sahamies his dashing style of play goes beyond that to what one railbird labelled ‘Bubonic’. Fair enough.


Looking at Illari though as he twiddles a chip with his fingers, it’s hard to tell. In a clean white shirt and a clean shaved head and headphones there’s little to suggest this is the man tearing up pot-limit Omaha tables online. And his reputation goes beyond poker to world’s that can put even the most cast iron of bankrolls under threat – the world of coin flipping.

No, not the poker sum, I mean proper coin flips with a coin, the highest being $40k a go with Phil Ivey (if those people on the internet are to be believed). In Dortmund though he looks like a guest of the others just playing a few hands before his taxi arrives.

A champion of the school of pure gambling Illari cites his ability to not care about losing for his success. Sitting back in his chair his stack shows signs of this advanced laissez-faire technique – whilst I’d been coming up with words to describe his play a hand had taken him to the river and all-in. The board read 2-Q-3-T-5. He called all-in the raise from Thomas Ermer and showed A-4 of spades. Thomas showed the same hand in diamonds.

Polite early-level laughter from the rest of the table; Thomas smiled and the dealer split the pot. Only Illari remained straight-faced, slightly irritated perhaps, failing to see the funny side. He’s back to 3k, (which would soon become over 5k). He may well be waiting for a taxi, but not before around 2am tonight and by then we may have come up with some new words.


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