Professor Akkari freerolls the Million

I've been playing on PokerStars for eight years now. Can you believe it? For the first six years, I played every single day and I still grind online three or four times a week. Back in 2007, I was one of the first players to reach Supernova, and I've maintained it ever since (although I'm a little nervous about keeping it this year with everything I have planned!) I love having all the Supernova benefits like being able to earn FPPs more quickly. Sometimes I'll play for a week or two and try to forget about the points. I'll play my usual tournaments, maybe make a couple of final tables and then check the cashier to check my balance. It's always such a great feeling to see all the FPPs piled up, knowing I can put them to good use.

At this point I think I've bought every widget and piece of clothing they have for sale in the VIP Store, but by far my favorite items to purchase are tournament tickets. I use my FPPs to buy tickets for all the big weekly tournaments like the Super Tuesday, the Sunday 500 and the Sunday Million. It's kind of crazy to admit, but I never buy in to the Sunday Million with cash anymore; I always use my FPPs for a ticket from the VIP store. I've been freerolling the Million for about three years now and I've made three final tables. That's a pretty good deal, right?


I've always had it in my mind to someday go for Supernova Elite, but right now with all my commitments it would be an impossible feat. If it were like the old days when I could focus only on the online game every day, I could do it. But the other projects I'm involved in like coaching, doing media, and recording television commentary for ESPN Brazil require a lot of time. And now I'm about to take one more side job--University Professor.

Unicamp (short for Universidade Estadual de Campinas) is one of the largest public universities in Brazil. Over 35,000 people study at its Sao Paulo campus. And this year, they began offering poker as an official discipline. Unicamp modeled their poker curriculum off a similar course offered at Harvard University in the U.S. In fact, the Harvard professors helped the Unicamp faculty build the syllabus. The class will not only teach students how to play, but how poker skills can inform careers in business, engineering, finance, and even medicine. It's the first time poker has ever been taught at a Brazilian university.

The first class took place only a few days ago and it was a huge success. Over 200 students tried to sign up for the 130 available spots in the course. The class is split into three levels. Over the next two months, the students will complete the first level. Then they'll have an intermediate level for another couple of months before moving on to the advanced segment. That's where I come in. I'll be teaching them the same concepts and strategies for tournament play I offer my students at my training center in Sao Paulo, only it will be tailored for a slightly younger, 18 to 20 year-old audience. I'm really excited about it.

So far the media's response to the Unicamp news has been really positive. Poker is like a fever right now in Brazil. Everyone is playing and there's an ongoing conversation about it in the media. Only a few years ago most people thought poker was gambling and only about luck. They didn't see what the game can teach people about decision-making, risk, and mental toughness. Now it's a much different story, and Unicamp's decision to teach poker only adds more positive energy.

Andre Akkari is a member of Team PokerStars Pro

Andre Akkari
@PokerStars in Andre Akkari