Off to a hot start in 2014 is PocketFives member LarsLuzak(pictured), who is known in the real world as Sami Kelopuro. This Finnish poker pro has a final table in the Full Tilt Poker FTOPS Main Eventand a win in the site’s $250,000 Guaranteed already this year for a combined $134,000. Additionally, he has one of the largest cashes ever recorded by a PocketFiver. We’ll have more on that to come.
“It’s always great to final table the right tournament,” Kelopuro said of the FTOPS Main Event. “I wasn’t doing well in any of the earlier FTOPS tournaments and finishing fifth in a lot of them wouldn’t have paid much at all. Of course, it would’ve been great to go all the way and win it, but that’s a good enough payday. I’ll take what I can get.” PocketFiver firaldo took down the FTOPS Main Event for $236,000 after a three-way chop.
“I thought it was a sick field when there were about 30 players left and to my immediate right were Phil Galfond (pictured) and Mike timex McDonald,” Kelopuro said of the field down the stretch in the $635 Re-Entry tournament. “Then, Phil busted and I had position on Mike all the way. There definitely weren’t any very fishy plays toward the end.”
He bought into the FTOPS Main Event exactly once and said he was “running pretty well from the start. In general, I try to take advantage of the possibility of re-entries, play looser, and take chances, at least until I have a stack.”
Kelopuro officially banked $735,000 in 2011 after winning the PokerStars SCOOP High-Stakes Main Event, one of the largest scores you’ll find for any PocketFiver. That score makes up nearly half of his tracked in the money finishes in tournaments and helped push him as high as #53 in the PocketFives Rankings.
“I think a deeper structure is better for me,” Kelopuro said of his success in larger tournaments. “I feel like I have more of an edge when it’s not just pre-flop poker and there is room to play some. I’ve probably also been running well in the right tournaments, as luck is such a big factor, even after all these years.”
He added, “There aren’t too many big tournaments running and I mostly play these big series, as I’m not too interested in the normal weekly tournaments. Last year until September, I played tournaments most Sundays, but then I realized it wasn’t worth it. They have bad hours and even though I was running all right, it didn’t pay enough per hour for me to keep doing it. I’ve always been more of a cash game player and there wasn’t any downside for me to play just cash games.”
You can find him in $10/$20 and $25/$50 cash games nowadays and he was formerly active in the nosebleed stakes. “I tried to figure out how much I was getting from weekly tournaments and then decided to quit them when it seemed it was never going to pay more than $100 or $200 per hour; it’s easy to make more from cash games.”
He explained, “I don’t even need to play $10/$20 or higher. In fact, I think a good $2/$4 PLO player beats every single tournament player’s win rate by multi-tabling and choosing games in a smart way. On top of that, you can make your own schedule; those games run all day long.”
Kelopuro got into poker in 2005 through friends who held home games. “I was immediately hooked and started playing online shortly thereafter,” he said. His family was always approving of the Fin’s poker exploits and, despite a stint in the military in 2007, he remained on top of his game. “By the time that was over,” he said, “I was already winning big. At that point, it would have been time to think about schools to apply to, but I already had a career going in poker, so I stayed on that path.”
The Finland poker community is 522 members strong here on PocketFives. Its top 20 ranked players have combined for $43.4 million in winnings, including $3.9 million in the last three months. Kelopuro is its tenth-ranked player.
FTOPS runs quarterly on Full Tilt Poker. If you don’t already have a Full Tilt account, sign up through the links on PocketFives and make a deposit to get one free month of PocketFives MTT Training. You’ll also get $25 free in most locations. Click here for PocketFives’ Full Tilt Poker link.