Finnish boxer Amin Asikainen has taken up poker after he hung up his gloves a couple of years ago. The former European Champion in middleweight is regularly playing poker tournaments, especially in Tallinn, and now he is looking forward to entering the ring at Coolbet Open.
We got the chance to ask him a few questions about his poker skills and expectations ahead of Coolbet Open.
You have been playing quite a lot of poker tournaments in Finland and around Europe. What caught your interest in poker and what do you like about playing?
Amin Asikainen: I had played some traditional ‘sökö’, a Finnish Five Card Stud game, amongst friends and then I was invited to play TV Poker. This was my introduction to No Limit Texas Hold’Em and I really enjoyed playing.
I started going to tournaments, also traveled to bigger events in Europe, and still have fun playing, both live and online. As sportsmen in general, I am too very competitive and poker is a good challenge.
You are a familiar face here in Tallinn at poker events. What do you like about coming to Tallinn to play and what are your expectations for Coolbet Open?
Amin Asikainen: Tallinn is a great city and Hilton is really nice as a venue. I know Tournament Director Teresa Nousiainen and she always puts together good schedules and events – really looking forward to Coolbet Open! I also saw there are plenty of nice added prizes to chase too. It’s gonna be good fun!
You retired from boxing some years ago. Is poker a good substitute for feeling the same kind of adrenaline as you when you were active as an athlete?
Amin Asikainen: I am still very involved with boxing, training and stuff, but I also now have more time to focus on family and fun. Poker is a great way to relax and yes, it features a lot of the same: you prepare for a tournament, play your best, move by move, and as in boxing, you take on a lot of heads-up matches.
I enjoy the challenges, I enjoy the heads-up situations and most of all: I enjoy winning. Definitely a lot of adrenaline kicks when getting closer to the top money.
For Coolbet Open we will also have the Norwegian boxer Kevin Melhus coming. Is poker a popular past time among boxers?
Amin Asikainen: Yes, I saw that Kevin Melhus is joining too – great stuff. Poker is a popular way to take time off from hard training and we used to play poker during our camps. I imagine other sportsmen do the same.
What hurts the most for an ex boxer/poker player like you: A knock-out or a bad beat?
Amin Asikainen: A bad beat! You prepare, play your best poker, maybe go all the way to the final table, put your chips in with the best hand, and get unlucky by losing with for example KK vs 55. Definitely feeling it. But, the way I see it is that I play as well as I can and if I lose playing optimal poker, well, unlucky, and I know I played well.
See you at Coolbet Open – Gonna be great fun!