2008 World Series: The boy from Brazil

Beneath the stage of the $50K HORSE final yesterday was the $2K no limit hold’em event, smaller in stature perhaps but no less significant in terms of there being a bracelet at stake. It featured among others PokerStars sponsored player Kirill Gerasimov but also Alexandre Gomes, the first ever Brazilian winner.

Naturally the Brazilians in town went nuts and the drinks and celebrations began the moment photos had been taken and the cash bagged. The cheering then moved from the Amazon Room, out into the hallways and to the bars.

Part of that celebratory crowd was Team PokerStars Pro and native Brazilian Andre Akkari, who as a professional could appreciate just how much of a momentous occasion this was.

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Andre Akkari

But unlike his compatriots it was not the late night you’d expect for Andre, who plays today in the $1,500 no limit hold’em. Instead, he went for dinner to toast the victory and then headed back to the hotel to be with his wife and two children for some vital R&R before playing today. And there was I thinking the dark glasses were to hide the effects of the night before.

It’s something that has changed his game this year, having his family close by, making the World Series less of an ordeal. Seven weeks is long enough, but spending those away from your nearest and dearest can make a long day even worse. So with them back at the hotel and there for him when the cards turn nasty, the whole experience has been more positive.

Akkari’s introduction to poker is a story of modest legend. Working on a software project in his native Brazil he began playing online poker as part of the research for the job. He then took advantage of the freerolls on PokerStars, soon winning them, and before too long was playing cash games with similar results – without ever having made a deposit.

Andre has the full poker player’s gear – the cap, sunglasses, a day’s stubble, headphones, working a lollipop as he plays. I tried to spot any convenient link between the angle of the lollipop stick and the hands he was playing – up for a good hand perhaps, down for bad, side to side when there’s thinking to be done. But there was nothing.

Now he’s into the last 900 players in level five of the latest $1,500 no limit hold’em event to fill the Amazon Room wall to wall. Steady progress in an event that started with 2,693.

Stephen Bartley
@StephenBartley in Andre Akkari