WSOP 2015: Andre Akkari has a plan
With seconds to go before Brazil's Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari is supposed to be in his seat on Day 4, a man plucks him from the throngs of just-on-time arrivals and wraps Akkari in an embrace.
They whisper a couple of words to each other in Portuguese.
"Obrigado," Akkari says. It means "thank you," and it's clear, Akkari is as thankful as they come. He's had a year worth more than a little gratitude.
After spending two years immersed in a myriad of different business interests--dog hotels, restaurants, and a training academy--he refocused his life on his family and poker. It was a tricky thing, because the businesses came about only as a way to make sure his family didn't have to worry about money. Giving up his daily attention to them wasn't an easy thing for Akkari to do. But, for him, it was the right thing.
The businesses now run themselves with the help of his partners. The result has been an incredibly successful year with eleven tourney cashes before he began the Main Event. He credits age and experience in re-setting his mind and his game.
"There are some things you can't get without aging," he told us during a longer conversation. "Patience is one of them."
Now, Akkari, one of Brazil's most successful poker players, can add another cash to his 2015 ledger. He started Day 3 of the WSOP Main Event with 140,000 and made it all the way to 350,000 by the dinner break after hitting a huge pot with a set of nines. Before the day was finished, he had 422,000, more than enough to play his game on Day 4.
"I feel great, man," he said. "I'm playing great. I feel focused."
That's the kind of thing that happens when you spend two years trying to make sure your family is set up no matter what swings variance may bring.
It's been four years since Akkari won $675,000 and his only WSOP bracelet. He is now solely focused on this Main Event title, but again, the patience he took 40 years to learn is making sure he doesn't try to win this thing today. When the doors close tonight, there will still be three more days of action before the tournament breaks for the summer. Even then, there will be nine people left.
So, Andre Akkari has a plan. He won't be winning today. He'll just be giving himself the best shot he can to do even better tomorrow.
"The plan is 1.5 million," he said. "That's what I'm going to get"
When people say that kind of thing (especially in poker), it can be easy to write off. But Akkari has proven time and again, when he sets his mind to something, he knows how to pull it off. He played poker freerolls until he built a bankroll. He turned that bankroll into a poker trip to Vegas. He turned that into big money wins, turned that big money into a WSOP bracelet, and turned all of it into a small business empire that should take care of his family for a long time.
That is a long way of saying, if Akkari's history is any indication, he'll get what he wants.
Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging. Photography by PokerPhotoArchive.com