PCA 2014: Andre Coimbra turns $100 into $70,000 for charity
Andre "acoimbra" Coimbra is a man that likes a challenge and last year he set himself a big one. He stripped himself of his VIP status, whittled his online bankroll down to just a $100 - a single Benjamin Franklin - and gave himself the aim to turn it into $100,000 playing only multi-table tournaments. Not only that, but he'd give all his winnings to charity.
The challenge did not start well for the Team PokerStars Online grinder. He lost 30% of his bankroll on the first day, but he knuckled down, studied hard and turned things around to finish the year on close to $70,000.
"It obviously sucks not to reach the $100,000, but that was just a number that I thought would be catchy, not so much something that I thought that I could achieve," said Coimbra. "I think $70,000 is very good and I'm happy with it."
Turning $100 into $70,000 is an incredible feat and one that should really help Portuguese charity APPACDM. It's a wonderful gesture by Coimbra and one that should be applauded.
"It (APPACDM) helps people with mental diseases in their families. It's not one of the big ones in the city because they already get a lot of funding. If companies want to give money away it's to the big ones in the cities," he explained.
Coimbra once played all 100 events in the MicroMillions, which at times seemed to be pushing him over the edge thanks to sleep deprivation. This challenge was a lot longer.
Riding an emotional rollercoaster
"There were so many highs and lows," he said. "I thought that the fact that I was giving the money to charity would motivate me and it didn't that much. I'm happy to be doing it for charity and it really makes me feel good to see the difference the money makes. Last year I helped some guy who needed some treatment in Germany because he had cancer. It's pretty awesome to help people, but it's not a motivator when I'm actually playing. Money isn't a motivator for me normally," n
Although the baseline of Coimbra's challenge was money won, he was also aimig to learn more about tournaments having been a sit-and-go specialist, and to share those lessons with hIs blog followers.
"This challenge was definitely a very humbling experience," he continued "I never knew if I could make the $100,000. If it was a cash game challenge or a sit-and-go challenge I'm pretty confident I could be more sure about making the challenge.
"I tried to share my learning by making videos and sharing BOOM hands (at his blog). Most of the feedback at the micro stakes was pretty good, but as I moved up to the mid stakes 90% of the advice was not. People had good intentions, but most players are not ready for the mid stakes. As you pass through micro to low to medium stakes you learn so much and learn how people think on each level."
Play the player
Some players used to beating bigger games think that they have an inalienable right to beat micro stakes with 'better' poker, but Coimbra realised that different levels and different players dictated different tactics and tendencies.
"One thing that I would do at the micro stakes was limp from early position with small pairs," said Coimbra. "People only really raise you when they have a very strong hand and so you get to set mine against very strong ranges, which is the optimal thing to do. If you do that at mid stakes then people will raise the limper out with king-ten and then they're not going to pay you off with top pair. I'll miss 80% of the time and they'll not pay me off so it's terrible to call. The dynamics are different at the different levels."
Following that grim first day which saw close to a third of his bankroll go, Coimbra started clocking up some good score ticking over into the hundreds then into the thousands. Then he hit a big score.
"I won a $1 rebuy for $14,000 and got to $21,000, but over the next two or three months I dropped back to $14,000 so it was a low. I was like, 'F***, I can't beat mid stakes.' It was frustrating because I had 20% of the challenge in by March, but then I couldn't get anything done."
Coimbra sat back and analysed not only his game but also his schedule. He changed things around and started playing smaller field events to give himself a better chance to make more final tables where he thought that his sit-and-go expertise would really pay dividends. It was a winning decision and the challenge was back on track.
Go big or go home?
As Coimbra approached the end of the year his bankroll had passed the impressive $50,000 mark and he was left with a big decision. Should he play the WCOOP Challenge Series Main Event and take a shot at a big score? He put it out to Twitter.
"I asked everyone what they thought about it and 90% of my followers were like 'play it' or 'satellite into it', but I have a very strong position regarding satellites," said Coimbra. "If I want to play a tournament I'll play the tournament, but it doesn't mean that I won't play the satellite. I played two satellites and one won. I thought they were good value."
Coimbra decided to play.
"Making the money was really important so I didn't want to push small edges and played really tight. After that I started playing more openly and made it into Day 2. I was really excited because I didn't need to win the thing, I just needed to finish 8th or something to finish the challenge. I got so excited I couldn't sleep until 10am. I didn't sleep much.
"Just staying alive in that tournament was a big thing because every hour I was making more money. I thought it was stupid of me to not fold in the close spots and I blame coffee. I've decided to not take any coffee this year. I shall only drink tea."
Coffee aside, Coimbra finished in 29th for $10,632.90 to close his 2013 charity challenge off with almost $70k in the bank. Read about that here.
"I'm going back to playing sit-and-go with a new perspective," said Coimbra, looking excited at the prospect. "I think I'll be less ego driven and in more control while understanding that I don't have as much control as I thought I did. Last year was very tough. It was probably one of the toughest years of my life.
"I want to keep sharing what I learnt because a good part of this challenge. When my followers would say 'I watched one of your videos and it really improved my game.' That was the best part. I want to keep doing that."
Coimbra, who is set to cross the legendary 5m VPP mark this spring, is still in the PCA Main Event with 72,000, good for an average stack. If you were to believe in karma it's fair to say that Coimbra has some run good due. Follow his progress at @andrebcoimbra and here at the PokerStars Blog.
Rick Dacey is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.