Andre Akkari tops Neymar Jr's celebrity poker home game, raising €52,300 for charity
Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari beats star-studded field; but the real winner is Neymar Jr Institute and Right To Play
There were quite a few stars at the Neymar Jr Charity Home Game held in Spain last Thursday night, but one got to shine a little brighter. Andre Akkari defeated a field of 15, to win the trophy and a piece of the €52,300 prize pool for charity.
Neymar Jr and his friends were competing to raise money for Neymar Jr's own charity, The Neymar Jr Institute. Olympic hockey gold medallist Fatima Moreira de Melo and Akkari, both members of Team PokerStars , played for children's charity Right To Play.
At the beginning of the tournament, Neymar announced €100 rebuys for the first hour to donate to the Neymar Jr Institute, then the cards were in the air.
"It's such a great feeling sitting down to play poker with my friends in a fun-filled atmosphere knowing that the proceeds are going towards such a great cause. I had such a great night and was so pleased to see my poker coach, Andre Akkari, take the win."
Neymar Jr invited friends and stars from the world of sport and screen, as well as fellow members of Team PokerStars, to come together at Casino Barcelona for a social - and charitable - poker game.
In addition to Moreira de Melo (who finished 12th for €1,000) and WSOP bracelet winner Andre Akkari (who took €15,000 for first place), Brazilian actor Rafael Zulu and his countryman Pedro Scooby, a pro surfer, joined Neymar Jr on the felt. Fans can check out all the action from the star-studded home game in a video posted on Neymar Jr's Facebook page.
"I travel all over the world playing poker in big tournaments, but it's not every day I get to participate in tournaments like these, giving away money to charity for incredible causes," said home game hero Akkari. "I am so happy to see that this money will go towards global sports and education charity, Right To Play, to help hundreds of thousands of children in some of the poorest parts of the world, using the power of sport and play to help educate and empower those most in need to overcome the impact of poverty, conflict and disease."
Online qualifier Diego Garcia Bello from Galicia, Spain, also joined the superstar footballer and friends for his first ever live poker tournament having won a place in the home game for free at PokerStars. Bello, who reached the final table, finished in seventh place and generously donated €2,300 to charity.
"Getting the opportunity to play Neymar and his friends tonight was a very good experience for me," said Bello.
This was not the first time the qualifier played against Neymar Jr, as he had previously competed against him online at PokerStars. When asked about his experience of playing Neymar live for the first time, he said: "I met him online but meeting him in real life is different, another kind of emotion. He's so relaxed and friendly."
Up until now, Bello only played online at PokerStars. When asked about how he found his first live experience, he said: "Live poker is very entertaining. I intend to play more satellites online at PokerStars so I can qualify for live events in locations around the world, such as the upcoming PokerStars Championship Barcelona in August this year."
The full result:
Andre Akkari - €15,000
Joclecio Amancio - € 8,000
Nabil El Quaissi - € 5,700
Paula Akkari - € 4,300
Leonardo Baptistao - € 3,300
Gilmar Araujo - € 2,800
Diego Garcia Bello - € 2,300
Neymar Jr - € 1,900
Pedro Scooby - € 1,500
Alvaro Costa - € 1,250
Rafeal Zulu - € 1,250
Fatima de Melo - € 1,000
Rafael Martini - € 1,000
Gabriela Arruda - € 1,000
Ricardo Rosa - € 1,000
Carlos Henrique da Silva - € 1,000