Today’s interview subject: Sami Pulliainen, poker player and representative for Finnish gambling community Uhmapelaajat. Despite the modesty, Sami actually has quite a lot to say about himself and the organisation he’s representing.
What is Uhmapelaajat?
“It’s sort of like a gambling society,” he goes on. “We give tips, we bet together and stuff, we give tips on our site, and that’s about it. And then of course it’s an affiliate business as well. Sports betting, and we do some casino stuff and some poker as well. It’s like, all round gambling stuff.”
As well as being involved in running Uhmapelaajat, Sami is an accomplished live tournament player, with almost $185,000 in live tournament earnings stretching back over a 15 year career. “Yeah - I used to be!” he laughs when I ask him about his career as a tournament player. “I didn’t play that much since I moved to Estonia three years ago. There were, like, two tournaments here this year, so there wasn’t that much action. I have been to Malta a couple of times” - he actually lived there for seven or eight years before the move to Estonia - “And played there. But I mean, the last year hasn’t been that different in that sense! But I’m really looking forward to The Festival - it would be great to get back to the tables. We used to arrange some kind of happenings every now and then, and now of course with The Festival, the idea is to get some of our players there and organize something so we can get together again.”
Five package giveaway
Uhmapelaajat will be handing out two full packages to their community members, as well as three roulette-and-blackjack-only packages, for those who aren’t so into poker. Sami is almost as enthusiastic about the casino games aspect of The Festival Series as he is about the poker side - and is looking forward to the possible addition of sports betting tournaments to the schedule at future events. “You have to be so serious about everything all the time!” he laughs. “There are tons of poker players who love to play those things as well, and that’s a great opportunity to play those things relatively cheaply. They don’t get to play those so often, and they also have a tactical side. You have to have some kind of strategy to participate in those.”
The details of the giveaway are still being worked out - “We haven’t decided yet,” he says, “We just bought them! But we’re running some competitions and things like that - probably some sports betting, but it’s still pretty open, how we’re going to give those.” Sami is effusive about working with The Festival Series - he loves the buzz of live events, and knows exactly what big boss Franke can do. “This is exactly the sort of stuff that we want to do, to have our players there and run those competitions to get the players involved and go together and drink some booze. That’s what we are all about. We go way back with Franke. Like, it was the start of the poker boom, early 2000’s when we started playing together, when we still lived in Finland. And the guy is still as bad as he was then - I mean, how is that possible?! But we used to play home games, and we were drinking and having fun - poker as it should be! I understand that there’s this competitive side, but for us there is a fun part that is more important than the competitive part, for sure.” Fun is of course something that we take very seriously here at The Festival Series - we’ll drink to that, and look forward to having a cold one irl in Summer.