He’s one of Finland’s most prolific poker players. He’s earned almost $2 million in live action, including multiple final table appearances and cash finishes. He has been seen often on the 2+2 poker forums and plays regularly on PokerStars. Now, Ilari Sahamies is trying to survive at another competition; specifically, Finnish Celebrity Survivor, and has been doing pretty well.
The show was filmed last year in the Philippines and is now being broadcast in Finland. Obviously, the winner hasn’t been—and won’t be—announced just yet, but Sahamies is still listed as a contestant, one of 10 remaining in the game. He’s joined by Miss Finland Sara Chafak, who has dabbled in poker but hasn’t played in any major tournaments. She did, however, participate in an episode of “The Shark Cage” in 2014.
Just like its U.S. version, the show pits two groups against each other in a remote location with virtually nothing to support them for a certain amount of time, usually a little more than a month. They have to forage for food, water and shelter, and participate in competitions to win items that help them survive. The U.S. version has been on the air since 2000, while the Finnish version first launched in 2013.
As the competition proceeds and player relationships are tested, the groups vote off the island one of the contestants until only one survives. While the U.S. version has a top prize of $1 million, in the Finnish version, the winner receives €50,000 ($61,515).
Sahamies isn’t the first poker player to be featured in a Survivor show. Belgian PokerStars pros and brothers Matthias and Christophe De Meulder appeared alongside Fatima Moreira de Melo on the Dutch version in 2012. After all players were eliminated, only one very astute poker player was left to take the top prize—de Melo.
Apart from his poker career, Sahamies stays pretty busy. He’s appeared twice on Fear Factor, has been seen with Paris Hilton and once paid a rap group more than $50,000 to appear in a rap song. The 30-something player recently competed at Helsinki Freezeout, taking home third place at the Pot-Limit Omaha Turbo event for $18,211.