Team PokerStars Pro Profile: Andre Akkari

Andre Akkari is not like many poker pros. He didn't start his career with massive satellite parlay or bankroll built on multi-tabling 20 SNGs at a time.

Akkari started with a bankroll of exactly nothing.

At first, he was a struggling businessman in Brazil. His time was short and his bank account was shorter. One his clients needed some work done for a poker site and Akkari's interest was piqued. He started teaching himself a little about the game. Then, he started looking for freeroll tournaments online. Before long, he'd hung pieces of paper all over his office to remind him when he could play for free and still have a chance to win some money. Before long, he'd built a modest bankroll and developed an unrelenting fascination with the game.

A few years ago, Akkari knew he had some soul-searching to do. Though he'd had some success online in freeroll and small buy-in events, he knew his talent had yet to be truly tested. He had $2,000 in his pocket and a bunch of Brazilian buddies in tow. He did what seemed simultaneously natural and frightening.

He went to Vegas.

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Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari

Akkari had barely stepped off the plane at McCarran International when he found himself on Fremont Street. Binion's called him into the poker room. Before he went to bed, he'd made the final table of a small tournament and won nearly $500, a mini-fortune for a small-stakes player.

Akkari wasn't ready to go home, but he didn't want to blow his just-earned cash. He was at a loss for what to do. The next day, Binion's was hosting a $450 buy-in event. His friends begged him to play, but Akkari was unsure. He called his wife back in Brazil. Her response was southern comfort.

"You just won $500. Consider it a freeroll."

A freeroll. It was exactly what Akkari needed and exactly what he did. The result? Victory in the form of $22,000 cash.

From there, Akkari was free of the freerolls. Bills paid and a bankroll built, Akkari went to work. In 2006, he made the final table of two $1,000 Bellagio Cup events. In 2007, he made the final table of a Venetian Deep Stack event. Just a few days later, Akkari signed on to Team PokerStars Pro.

These days, Akkari is on the poker road and on television as an ESPN poker commentator in Brazil. A couple of months ago, he cashed in the 2008 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure.

Now, the one-time freeroll junkie is playing in Europe for the first time. The setting is all he ever dreamed back in the day when he had no money at all. He sits today with the Monte Carlo Bay just outside the window and a stack of chips he hopes to take to the final table of the biggest poker tournament in Europe.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in EPT Monte Carlo