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Poker Pro Reaching Stratospheric Heights

Apparently, high-stakes poker action is not thrilling enough for Finnish pro player Jens “Jeans89” Kyllönen, who has pocketed more than $1.6 million at PokerStars this year.

Kyllönen is planning to travel to a dimension of a completely different nosebleed level by forking over €160,000 to ensure a seat on Virgin Galactic’s space flight. The spacecraft reaches speeds of 2,600 miles per hour and an altitude of 360,000 feet. Astronauts will accompany Kyllönen and others wishing to sign on for the two-hour space travel that includes feeling weightlessness for five minutes

“I’ve always been fascinated with space and now that I have the opportunity to be within the first people going, I just felt like I had to do it.” Kyllönen said.

Kyllönen is one of a handful of poker phenoms emerging from Finland in recent years that includes Ilari Sahamies and Patrik Antonius. He racked up winnings in excess of $840,000 on Full Tilt and has also won more than $1.3 million in live events. Kyllönen participated in the $1 million buy-in Big One For One Drop and was one of the few players who paid the entry fee out of his own pocket without sponsorship.

Kyllönen was the third player knocked out of poker’s priciest tournament but insisted the loss wasn’t so bad by explaining, “ sort of works in a way that the Finnish Tax Authority has 50 percent of me. I can deduct the million if I lose but I will pay half in taxes if I win. It’s kind of like it’s a half-million tournament for me.”

The Virgin Galactic journey on the spaceship of Sir Richard Branson requires a three-day training period and Kyllönen is planning to make the stratospheric voyage in 2014. Until then, the adventurous pro will have to be content with high-stakes poker.



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Charles Rettmuller

Charles has been an avid poker player for a number of years, both live and online. He holds a degree in journalism and previously worked as a reporter for a Chicago-based newspaper. Charles joined the PokerUpdate team in early 2012 and writes daily news articles for the site.