We would like to introduce you to Aaro Valkila a professional cash game player who currently resides in Finland. Aaro is no stranger to the streets of Tallinn. He was a student of Estonian Business School and lived in Tallinn for 5 years. So you could say he is pretty much local, one of the boys.
Let’s get right at it. Is poker your only source of income?
Well, poker is my profession, most of my earnings come from there. Also I do bit of investing from the side. So far it’s good, but we have to see how it goes.
Keep hearing the word combination “poker life” thrown around quite a bit. How does the lifestyle of a poker professional look like?
The so called “poker life” has its ups and downs.
You can go wherever you like without asking anyone. It really gives you the feeling of freedom. But then again, I’ve done it professionally for 7 years and I feel like at some point I would like to do something else.
When I’m at home I always have tables open. I never log out, just in case some fun player wants to join the game.
Can you exemplify what you mean with having a table always open?
Yes, I can, here is a good “poker degenerate” story from last summer when I even tried leaving the tables open for the night time. I sat at the heads up table, turned the computers volume to the max and hit the bed. So if someone else sat at the table, I had 30 seconds to react.
Considering overall life balance we guess it was not the best move?
It turned out pretty okay money wise, but I was always tired. It’s a week in my life that I will never repeat.
Sounds like you have a pretty “wild” schedule. Do you think it is possible to have a great family life and still be the so called “king of the hill” at poker?
Sometimes the games run till the early morning so I end up going to bed in the dark and when I wake up it’s still dark. In winter we don’t see much daylight here in Finland.
I know some professional poker players have wives & kids, the whole package. But I personally think if my life gets that far then I likely won’t be a professional poker player anymore.
I’d rather be not so much of a great poker player and be good at something else as well.
You mentioned Finland and winter time. Could you tell us a bit more about Finnish poker community? Any proposition bets going on between you guys?
I’ve heard about lot of ridiculous bets over time. Most of them don’t involve poker, but more like running, walking, etc.
I myself had a prop bet with my friend where I had to beat NL500 ZOOM pool for 3BB/100 over 20K hands. I ran so hot that my friend bought out of the deal when we were at the midway point.
What about live games?
Helsinki is worst place to play live poker. It’s not that the games are tough, but everyone is so nitty. We don’t even get the 5/5 game running.
This year in January I spent a month in Florida with a poker friend of mine. We did quite a bit of playing that month. I mostly play online though, so it’s fairly rare to find me sitting at a casino.
Any weird stories from live games?
It was a while back. I was playing in Tallinn and got warned for using my phone while in a hand. So the night went on and there was a situation where someone had raised. It’s big blinds turn to act and he picks up his phone and says something like „It will take me a moment“ and leaves the table. The whole table is quiet, the dealer doesn’t say anything, the floor doesn’t comment it. Everyone just waited until he came back.
Ha ha, that’s funny. Anything else in your mind?
This is a story from a good friend of mine. Guys were playing 2/2 NO LIMIT and a gentleman who has never played poker before joins the game with 200 euros. He plays 2 rounds and loses 9 euros. He gets up from his seat, tips the dealer €1000 and leaves.
Wait, what just happened?
Yeah, everyone’s jaws dropped.
I guess it proves a point that not everyone plays poker for money. It’s a game that provides excitement and entertainment.
There’s not much time left till the Cash Game Festival starts. What are the plans before the event?
Me and my close friends are heading to Spain for a couple of weeks. It’s kind of a holiday, but I will bring my laptop with me and I’ll try to get in some hands.
Thank you for the time Aaro!
So, that was our introduction to Aaro Valkila, a Finnish cash game specialist who will be joining us at the 25/50 NO LIMIT TV table on the first day of the Cash Game Festival.
As we all know, the 25th of November is just around the corner so don’t forget to use the promotional code “Cash Game Festival“ when booking your stay at The Radisson Blu Hotel Olümpia.