Photo provided by Full Tilt Poker
Patrik Antonus’ nicknames are, amongst others, Adonis, The Flying Finn, and The Terminator. He used to play online poker under different screen names such as “Tryharderfish” (PokerStars).
Childhood and early years
At the age of eleven, Patrik and several of his friends had already developed a taste for poker. The first poker game that young Patrik played, took place in a garden behind his house. At these so called “tournaments” it was possible to win 40 to 50 cents a day. Of course, at that time, neither Patrik nor his best friends had any idea of how to handle money, and most of the time the winner of the day ran off to the closest convenience store and spent the hard earned “prize money” on sweets.
Patrik’s passion for this special card game was almost as strong as his passion for tennis. At 13, Patrik decided to use his very promising talent to become a professional tennis player and began to focus mainly on improving in that field.
All through their teenage years, Patrik and his friends played poker on an almost daily basis. The private tournaments no longer took place in their backyards, though, but in the tennis clubhouse. Slowly the boys started to increase their bets and soon they were winning – or losing – 40 to 50 dollars a day.
Patrik Antonius still refers to this period as the best time of his life. Directly after school, he would race to the tennis court, and then the rest of the afternoon would be spent playing poker.
When he was 15 years old, Patrik began suffering from back problems: protrusions of some intervertebral discs severely threatened his dream of becoming a professional tennis player.
During Patrik’s time at high school, the stakes set by the poker group continued to increase, as well as the time they spent playing. During this time, once more they moved to the backyard to play poker, because the “tournaments” were taking on dimensions to big to be held at the clubhouse. They often played well into the small hours, only stopping when one of the parents left the house to go to work and sent the kids to school.
When Patrik was 17, his friend Micco Pipsala, who was very keen on learning all he could about the game of poker, discovered the rules of pot-limit Omaha on a website dedicated to poker, and the lads were very excited to put them into practice.
From the backyard to the Helsinki casino
Shortly after his 18th birthday, Patrik started playing poker at casinos. Every Wednesday night a $ 25 no- limit poker tournament was held at Casino Helsinki. Somehow, Patrik managed to win this tournament and earned $ 275 the first time he participated.
Casino Helsinki only offered one variant of poker: a $ 2/$ 2 pot-limit Omaha
Patrik still remembers the insecurities he felt at the poker table, especially in his early days, which is exactly why this was an exciting time for him. He says,
“I look back at those Casino Helsinki days, because I was so new to the game. It seemed as if everyone at the table was speaking a secret language, talking about, ‘outs, gutshots, under the gun,’ and other words I never heard or knew what they meant.”
After Patrik Antonius graduated from Helsinki Business College (the Finnish equivalent to an American high school) he served his time in the Finnish army. Looking back he says,
“It was probably the toughest six months of my life.”
Pokerstar instead of professional tennis player
But his time in the army also had its positive aspects: as Patrik was assigned to the Finnish army sports corps, he had plenty of time for his tennis training.
As soon as his time in the military was over, Patrik was ready to launch his career as a professional tennis player, but a serious back injury made it impossible for him to take part in what would have been his first professional tournament.
Patrik Antonius slowly realized that he would not be able to earn a living playing tennis professionally, so he decided to focus on his other passion: playing poker.
Although at first Patrik was hit hard by the fact that his professional tennis career was over, he sees this turn of events in a much more positive light today:
“It’s better to be a professional poker player than a professional tennis player, for sure. The money is better and even though I have to travel a lot now, I know that tennis players travel even more. It’s such a tough life and you can easily get burned- out. Besides that, as a poker player, I guess I can’t really complain.”
Slowly, Patrik became more financially stable and he started taking poker much more seriously. He and his friends played more frequently and the stakes continued to increase. Patrik still visited Casino Helsinki once or twice a week.
In the summer of 2002, Patrik Antonius started to see some results. He kept winning regularly – at home as well as at the casino. That autumn, he left for Italy, where he had applied for an internship in order to learn Italian. For three months, there was no opportunity for him to play poker. Still, he spent a lot of money abroad and arrived back home with seriously diminished funds.
In January 2003, Patrik Antonius realized – for the first time – the potential impact of poker on his life: Patrik had discovered online poker!
Within two months, his poker account had grown from $ 200 to $ 20,000. The possibility to play anywhere at anytime, even at more than just one table fascinated him. Patrik began to study the game as well as his opponents more closely and became more and more wrapped up in the world of poker.
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This was when he decided to concentrate solely on poker and out an end to his course of education.
The intricacies of poker started to reveal themselves to Patrik and he improved his game with the aim of being able to play against the best online players and learn from them.
It was about this time that Patrik decided he wanted to go to university in America. Apart from that, he also wanted to pick up tennis again because his back condition had improved. Also, many of his Finnish friends studied at American universities and played tennis there.
Las Vegas - heaven on earth
Patrik won one of the very last online satellites to the World Series of Poker and made his way to Las Vegas. After spending six months in small-town Virginia, Las Vegas was a refreshing change of scenery. It seemed like heaven on earth: many great poker players kept assuring Patrik that he had talent which, obviously, boosted his confidence a great deal.
After the WSOP, Patrik flew back to Virginia only to pack his things before heading back to his native Finland. During the next two years Patrik Antonius played poker as often as he could and concentrated solely on improving his game. And thanks to his online experience he succeeded.
In the summer of 2005 he discovered his passion for tournament poker and won the “Ladbrokes Scandinavian Poker Championships” in Stockholm. He placed third at the EPT in Barcelona that September. In October he won the Baden EPT, even though he had arrived four hours late. Patrik had been held up at the airport and delayed because his baggage had been lost – it never showed up again.
The young Finn desperately tried everything he could to rescue his tournament seat and made a number of phone calls. Unfortunately, by the time he arrived half of his chips had been blinded off – but not even that could stop him from winning the tournament in the end.
In 2006, Patrik reached the WSOP $ 50,000 HORSE final table, and early in 2007 he finished 13th at the Aussie Millions: thanks to his aggressive playing style he won $ 70,000.
He now lives there with his fiancée Maya, their daughter Mila, and two French bulldogs. Before his daughter Mila was born, Patrik mentioned in an interview that he thought a baby would have a positive effect on his life as a professional poker player:
“It’s gonna change a lot, for sure. She will probably calm me down a bit, I think. My life is pretty crazy at the moment, with up-and-down stuff, and maybe it will hold my adrenaline for a little bit.”
Patrik is very much at home in Las Vegas and he feels that everything is going well for him there.
When he is travelling, however, he thinks he has bad days more often and even loses more money playing online. In Las Vegas he does not seem to have this problem.
Patrik is not much of a globetrotter and finds transatlantic flights especially exhausting. He feels that this is when he gets out of shape: he eats all the wrong things and hardly sleeps at all.
Patrik Antonius appeared in the third as well as the fourth season of “High Stakes Poker”, the latter of which aired in the summer of 2007. Along with Sammy Farha, Patrick was involved in the to-date largest pot in the history of “High Stakes Poker”, totalling $ 998,800. The following hand decided the game:
Sammy Farha held K♦ and D♦, Patrik Antonius held J♥ and 9♥. Farha raised $ 4,200 and Patrik raised to $ 16,000 that same round.
The pot is at $ 482,300. Farha calls and the pot is now at $ 998,800. The two decide to run the turn and the river four times. The first turn and river brings 3♦ and 9♣ and Farha hits a flush, Antonius a full house. On the second turn and river the 5♦ and the A♥ come up, the third time brings 2♥ and 6 ♠. On the fourth and final run a 4♠ and 5♥ appeares. Antonius wins all three times and gets $ 750,000. Although Farha receives $ 250,000 too, he loses more than half of his wager.
Adonis, onlinepoker pro and heads-up specialist
Patrik Antonius’ hobbies include tennis and working out. He also loves to party and never says no to a drink with friends. Patrik knows exactly how to deal with being at the centre of attention of cameras and fans and makes them literally eat out of the palm of his hand.
Patrik takes good care of his body and his health. He works out on a daily basis and regularly takes vitamins and dietary supplements to stay fit both mentally and physically.
He puts a lot of effort into improving his poker skills and learning more about the game itself, because he has realized that mental and physical discipline are essential in the world of poker. Patrik says,
“I’m part of a new generation, of which the people have an athletic background. You have to be in really good shape to play the best game.”
Patrik is one of the best online players in the world, many even regard him as the best online player. What is more, he is often referred to as a heads-up specialist. Patrik, of course, is happy about that and knows he has to be doing something right. Yet he is also aware of the fact that it is impossible to win a tournament without a little bit of luck.
Every so often he also graces the casinos of Las Vegas with his presence. He is a regular in “Bobby’s Room” at the Bellagio – home to many professional poker players. His intention is mainly to learn new tips and tricks from the other professionals there and to improve his game.
This is what Patrik has to say about his poker skills:
“I think my main strength is the quality of my reads. Especially the people who are used to playing online and then turn to playing live, I think I can read them exceptionally well. I don’t think I have lots of clear weaknesses or leaks, other than maybe the fact that in relation to others I am not that experienced yet. Also, I used to have some physical problems because of a back injury I had. This was a problem that developed when I was still actively playing tennis, and that has caused me some difficulties at the poker tables—especially when I was playing live. But fortunately, these back problems have recently been solved, meaning I am in good physical condition again—and I am certain that this has helped my poker game tremendously.”
Today, Patrik is winning tournaments around the world and other players come to him for advice and want to learn from him.
Although Patrik must have won enormous amounts of money by now, he does not like to talk about his financial situation. He even keeps the exact figures of his total winnings secret from his fiancée, partly because he does not even know them himself, but also because money is not that important to him:
“Money is only money, and I know that’s easy to say, because if you’re broke it’s everything. When I was fifteen I was betting on horse-races, placing 20-dollar bets with friends, and it seemed that I had more fun when I lost, because of the fun I had with my friends. Happiness comes from the fact that you can do what you want to do. [I’ve learned] that it’s not easy to make money.”
Two of his best friends are the poker professionals Noah Boeken and Roland De Wolfe. One time, Patrik even had to wear a bathrobe to the WPT in Las Vegas because he had lost a bet to his friend De Wolfe about whether the orange juice at the Bellagio was freshly squeezed or not.
Patrik Antonius is a member of the “Circle of Outlaws” founded by Marcel Luske. It was him who taught Patrik his poker style. The “Circle of Outlaws is a group of ten young up-and-coming poker pros, who specialize in online poker and have already made a lot of money with it. Marcel proudly acknowledges that he hand picks the members of the “Circle” by choosing poker players who dominate the field, but also are genuinely good people.
Patrik's enormous fan community adores him
Patrik is one of the most amazing characters of the poker world and his popularity with the ladies is not just a result of his good looks. The heart of any woman with only the slightest knowledge of poker belongs to this handsome and talented Finn. But not only female poker players worship Patrik Antonius (one female fan has even been heard to say, “I would like to have sex with that man.”), men also admit to being jealous of this poker star, which statements like, “Wish I looked at like that” testify to.
Patrik’s popularity also makes him such a sought-after subject of the media: reporters as well as the biggest online poker websites are all over him. In addition to that, if you still haven’t had enough of Patrik, you can watch him on Marcel Luskes DVD called “Poker: My Way”.
Despite having ridiculous amounts of money, Patrik manages to remain the boy next door. It is refreshing to witness a poker player who – despite all the success he is enjoying right now – does not take it for granted and knows that it could disappear just as quickly as it came to him.
When asked if he could still see himself as best online player in ten years’ time, Patrik’s response is,
“I doubt it very much. I’d almost guarantee that I won’t be the best in ten years. There’s gonna be so many good players in the future. I see so many talented players already…”
In the world of poker, where we keep seeing short-lived, ephemeral careers, Patrik Antonius is the kind of player who will stay on the scene for a very long time – he is not just a flash in the pan. If there is an equivalent to David Beckham in the world of poker, then – without a doubt - it is Patrik Antonius.
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