Ilari 'Ziigmund' Sahamies, 26, is one of the most famous high stakes pot-limit Omaha players in the world. Ilari made his mark in the high stakes world, initially, as a wildly aggressive player who loved to gamble, drink, and poke fun at his high stakes opponents. His introduction to poker came at the age of 15, when he participated in a home game at fellow Finnish poker pro Patrik Antonius' home after meeting at a local billiard hall where he was a champion. With his trademark cleanly shaven head, Ilari has become a fixture in the highest PLO games in the world since 2006. His game and life have matured over the years and he now has ownership stakes in coinflip.com and PowerPoker as well as being seen regularly on high stakes TV poker shows. When not traveling around the world for poker, he resides in Helsinki, Finland. In conjunction with the exclusive Poker Curious Ziigmund bounty freeroll on PowerPoker March 21st, Ilari took a few minutes to answer some of our questions.
You are known to have regular multi-million dollar swings and yet you seem to embrace the extremes of poker better than most. How do you handle the massive swings involved in high stakes poker?
I really don't know how I handle those. Sometimes I feel I don't handle those at all :)....but...hmm...It's just money...nothing serious.
It was casually reported that you had your biggest winning and losing pots last summer in Bobby's Room at the Bellagio ($1.7 million and $2.4 million pots). Were these the biggest hands you had ever played?
Yes. Those were my biggest pots in my life. One hand I got a full house on the river and I was lucky. And another hand hmm...I don't even remember it. I remember that Patrik won it.
You are known for being outrageous at the tables, often times chiding your opponents. Is it all just meant in jest? For instance, do you have anything personal against Gus Hansen or Luck123?
No, I absolutely haven't anything personal against Gus or Luck. I'm just too hot and idiotic sometimes, so those are just ridiculous comments I make.
You joked in a previous interview that you were a fish in NLHE. What makes you a superior PLO player and not have the same dominance in NLHE?
I think....I played only live games and only PLO the first two years in Helsinki because that was the only available game in Helsinki casinos back in the day. So I think that's the biggest reason. I have never played much No Limit and I don't even know the rules.
You project an image of enjoying your libations regularly. I read in one recent interview that you don't play as much drunk now as you used to. You are already known for loose aggressive play, how doing being drunk affect how you play your game?
Hmm...I don't know. It's difficult question. I just wanna play poker...not think too much about that. I guess I am totally crazy when I play drunk online but live it doesn't matter. I play good live when I'm a little drunk.
What do you think is the biggest mistake you see your opponents making that if corrected might improve their chances of being successful?
Most of my opponents are already very successful so I don't want to criticize or judge their game. I mostly play with people like Ivey, durrrr, Cole South etc., so I don't think I'm the right person to answer this question.
You have become a part owner and spokesman for PowerPoker on the Cake network. What has this experiences been like for you?
It's nice to do something else sometimes than just playing poker. There are a few of my good friends working in the project too, so it's more than just business. It's fun and interesting. I'm trying to help to make PowerPoker one of the best places for players and it's fun to hear when people tell me that they like playing there.
You have spoken of your friendship and relationship with Patrik Antonius and Sami 'LarzLuzak' Kelopuro before. What other Finnish players are you close with or see as future stars in the poker world?
Ville "Isokala" Wahlbeck, Jani Vilmunen and Thomas Wahlroos are also my good friends, and many other Finnish players too. We are very good friends and I was so happy when Ville won the first WSOP bracelet ever for Finland last summer. It was one of the coolest moments.
On your blog, on your site Coinflip.com, you have shared an increased desire to do more things away from poker. How do you balance your personal life and poker?
Chilling with friends, partying and sports/training too, those things are very important so that my life is not only about poker. Otherwise, I would be some poker nerd who only plays and analyzes hands and poker theory. There are enough of those people already.
What are the pros and cons of being a famous poker pro, and what would you most like to be remembered for in the poker world?
It's cool to travel around the world, have fun, "work" when u want etc. Sometimes it's just f horrible when I don't play good and tilt and don't care and just loose and don't give a sh*t........ but it's a lot more good things than negative.