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Risto Pönniö Thrilled to Play OFC at The Festival Series Tallinn

Risto Pönniö Thrilled to Play OFC at The Festival Series Tallinn

The Festival Series Tallinn is less than a week away at Olympic Park Casino and the Hilton Tallinn Park from June 27 to July 3. 

One of the amazing aspects of The Festival Series is not only a huge €550 NLHE Main Event but also the unique wide variety of side events. Many of them are in no-limit hold’em but The Festival Series prides itself on offering tons of variety with events in many mixed games including PLO, Sviten Special, H.O.R.S.E, and 8-Game alongside casino-style tournaments in Blackjack, Roulette, and Slots events all on the schedule. This is all on top of an all-inclusive experience including non-stop cash games and the possibility to join the satellite winners for our legendary VIP hospitality package

Open-Face Chinese (OFC) enthusiasts have their own reason to be excited as these events don’t happen every day. The Festival Series Tallinn has not only included OFC in the schedule but is boasting two events with a €330 OFC event taking place on Friday, July 1 and the €1,050 OFC High Roller following just two days later on Sunday, July 3.

Finland’s Risto Pönniö, who helped shape the way OFC is played today, is one of the players looking forward to playing OFC at The Festival Series Tallinn.

“OFC is always in my program for any festival I attend in Tallinn where it is on the schedule,” Pönniö shared with The Festival Series. “I am thrilled that The Festival Series included two events on the schedule. I will definitely play the smaller event on Friday, and who knows, if things go well may also hop into the High Roller on Sunday.”

Boredom Leads to New Game

While Pönniö didn’t invent OFC, he did have a strong influence on the game. Before 2005, you would occasionally see players, most notably from Finland, enjoying a game of regular Chinese Poker on the side.

Anywhere from two to four players could play and each was dealt 13 cards face down and set their hand with the best hand with five cards on the bottom, the second-best with five cards in the middle, and the third-best hand with three cards up top. Royalties were added although different to what we see today in OFC.

Pönniö at the time was a dealer at Casino Helsinki and played mixed games on the side with his collogues. Out of a moment of boredom, Chinese Poker began to evolve thanks to Pönniö introducing cards being turned over one at time and placed on the spot with knowledge of the other players’ exposed cards and where they placed them.

“My fellow dealers from Casino Helsinki and I used to play all kinds of poker variants,” Pönniö shared. “So, traditional Chinese Poker was a bit boring and we started to play it with open cards.”

Over the next couple of years, others further evolved the game with players starting with five cards for the initial draw and three cards every round after with one being discarded as well see today. Royalties and Fantasyland requirements were also fine-tuned into the game enjoyed by many poker players around the world including playing OFC online at many recreational play-money and more serious real-money apps.

Pönniö’s Top Five OFC Tournament Players

Pönniö is a seasoned OFC veteran having played it for years and analyzes his own hands without computer help. The Festival Series Founder Martin “Franke” von Zweigbergk described Pönniö to The Festival Series as an OFC God. Pönniö feels similar back in return sharing “Franke is a good player as well.”

While Pönniö would list himself as one of the best OFC tournament players, he did make a top five that didn’t include himself.

“Franke, Johnny Johansen, Tero Kilkanen, Jari Mähönen, and, of course, Ville Keränen with two trophies," Pönniö shared as his top five.

Aces in the Front Hand

Not everyone playing the OFC events at The Festival Series Tallinn will be as experienced as Pönniö. If you have played some hands before, you should feel more than comfortable joining the competition.

If you haven’t played much, Pönniö had one parting word of advice for relatively new players.

“Aces in the front hand!” Pönniö immediately advised to fresh players looking to make a splash. “At least in the early rounds.”

Immediately after, I realized that I might have a leak in my own game as I often like to put my aces in the middle especially if I have a strong hand for possible fantasy land like AAKQX as my first five cards. While it might still be a leak, at least it doesn’t make me a complete fish according to Pönniö.

“Not a big mistake,” Pönniö said about this situation. “On later rounds, I play more cautious and try to avoid autoscoops.”

Join us on Friday, July 1 for the first OFC event with a €330 buy-in followed by the €1,050 OFC High Roller on Sunday, July 3. You can already register now via Luxon Pay to have your seat reserved and confirmed, which will also save you time at the casino.

Read more here about how to take advantage of Luxon Pay for all The Festival Series Tallinn events.

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