Where are They Now is a series of an in depth look at all poker players - not just the pros - as they travel through one long game. Some of the players profiled are deceased but not forgotten.
From time to time during our “Where Are They Now” series, it’s surprising at how far along we’ve gotten when a name comes up that hasn’t been written about yet. Some are just honest mistakes. After all, when close to 150 biographies have been written, some names are bound to get through the cracks. However, occasionally there is a name that comes up that it’s downright shocking that they have not been profiled yet. Patrik Antonius definitely fits that mold. In short, he is both the best cash game player and tournament player (that has somehow not won a bracelet yet). In addition, he’s one of the most recognizable names, and faces (ain’t that right ladies?) in the entire game.
Patrik Antonius was born in Vantaa, Finland on December 13, 1980. Vantaa is about 50 miles away from Helsinki, the capital of Finland, and a place Antonius would spend quite a bit of time as he got older. The Antonius family was poor, but his parents worked hard so Patrick could pursue his goals. As a youngster he excelled in a number of sports, but took a liking to tennis the most. Through his early teens he climbed up the junior rankings, and even began thinking about the possibilities of being a professional. However, a back injury halted those dreams. The back injury fortunately wasn’t enough to cause any debilitating long term pain, but if he exerts himself too much, as he would have as a professional tennis player, the pain would have been too much. Antonius tried teaching tennis, but it wasn’t the same. He even found work as a model, and was told that he could have a career in that if he wanted, but said that he found modeling too boring.
Poker came into the life of Antonius when he was a teenager, playing home games with friends and family, but until he was a young adult, he never really took the game seriously. When he turned 18 years old, that began to change. He started playing at the Casino Helsinki, and even won the first tournament he ever played in that had a $25 buy-in and won him about $250. However, the $250, or a few hundred here or there for a couple years, never lasted, as he always played cash games without a thought of bankroll management.
Antonius saw a change in his play when he deposited $200 online, and started practicing bankroll management. He also discovered Pot Limit Omaha. In those days he was playing small stakes, unlike today where he plays the highest PLO games both online and around the world in casino poker rooms. However, he was better than most people at those small stakes, and was able to build his bankroll to $20,000 in just a couple months. Antonius moved to America with the thought of going to college, and while there is proof he attended at least a class or two, most of his time was spent playing poker online.
Antonius decided to take a break from college for a “year or two” so he could concentrate on playing poker. Antonius is well known in the poker world for his steely determination and dedication to the game, and that’s how he approached the game from there on out. Playing 12 hour sessions almost every day, he was able to work his once $20,000 bankroll up to $80,000.
In 2005 Antonius began taking a more active part in the tournament circuit. Previous to 2005 he had only played a handful of tournaments, cashing in two for a combined prize pool of about $4,000. With a fat new bankroll, most of the tournaments he would now partake in would have a buy-in higher than his previous two cashes combined. From the start of 2005 to the end, the World Poker Tour and the tournament circuit as a whole was kind to Antonius. In January of 2005, he finished 12th in the WPT PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $7,800 buy-in Main Event, winning $34,600. In December of 2005 he put a punctuation mark on his year, winning $1,046,470 for finishing second at the WPT’s Fourth Annual Five Diamond World Poker Classic. In between those months he had two more six figure scores of $145,068 and $343,366, both on the European Poker Tour.
If there has been an Achilles heel in the poker career of the would-be tennis player, turned model, turned professional poker player, it’s been the World Series of Poker. The positive results are there, having cashed in 12 WSOP events, totaling near $800,000 in cashes. The near misses include two final tables, and a number of other deep runs. Some have suggested that it’s hard for Antonius to keep focused in a WSOP event that has a buy-in of some blinds of the cash games Antonius plays in. In fact, he is one of the more regular members of the “Big Game” at the Bellagio, which sees blinds go as high as $4000/$8000 a hand.
Antonius has also been on three seasons of the Game Show Network’s “High Stakes Poker,” in which he was involved in the biggest hand ever televised. Antonius found himself up with Sammy Farha, who is well known for playing any two cards. Antonius held and Farha held . The flop was nine high, but with two diamonds. Antonius went all in, and Farha snap called. With $998,800 in the pot, the two agreed to run the final two cards four times, meaning each board that was run out would be for 25 percent of the pot. Farha was a slight favorite, but only managed to win once; meaning Antonius raked in a pot of $749,100. With Antonius though, this is just another day at the office.
As a Full Tilt Poker sponsored player, playing under his real name, Antonius has been involved in way too many epic cash sessions to mention here. Among the most well known battles was with the mysterious “Isildur1.” Isildur1 got the best of Antonius (and a number of other well known pros) at the start, but eventually the tides changed. In one session Antonius took over two million dollars from Isildur1.
Antonius is also the first player to accept Tom Dwan’s “Durrrr Challenge” which has now been running for about a year. The rules state that anyone who plays Dwan over 50,000 hands – playing four tables at once - will have to pay him $500,000 if he is ahead by $1 or more at the end of the 50k hands. If Dwan is losing, he will owe Antonius (or other challengers) $1.5 million. As of this writing Antonius has some work to do, down nearly a million dollars, close to 30,000 hands in. The game they are playing is Pot Limit Omaha.
When not partaking in the nose-bleed stakes, Antonius spends time with his family, which includes his wife Maya Geller and young daughter Mila. His wife has also picked up poker recently, cashing in the 2009 WSOP.
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