I’m here at the WSOP playing a lot of events while I’m following Brazil in the World Cup. I’m not doing so well so far in the Series, and so really it’s much better right now to talk about how Brazil is doing.
I’ve played 14 events so far, including three $10K events (H.O.R.S.E., razz, limit hold’em). I haven’t gotten in the money once yet, which has been disappointing. But I think back to 2011 when I played 18 events but only got one cash — and it was a bracelet!
I also did well in 2012, making a final table and having a lot of deep runs, and last year I cashed a few times to come out okay. But this year hasn’t gone so well so far. I’ve been making Day 2s a lot, then will bust just a few spots shy of the bubble, which makes it even more painful.
The WSOP is always kind of difficult — whether or not I’m winning — because I have to leave my family for a month-and-a-half to come. I love Vegas, and especially after winning the bracelet a few years ago it’s kind of a special place for me. But it’s tough to be away from home.
And of course this summer while I’m sitting at the table playing I’m always seeing the World Cup playing out on the television screens all around, which makes me miss being home even more. All my friends are there watching the matches together, and I’m here!
But believe me… I’ve been following it all very closely. In fact I have not been playing in WSOP events whenever Brazil is playing.
We have been watching the games here in Las Vegas with a big crowd of about 60-70 Brazilians who are all coming to my place to view them together. The first match against Croatia started out badly and we had an own goal, which was awful! But we turned it around and it really became a party — lots of screaming and we had a real good time.
In Brazil soccer is like a religion. We live soccer. And when the World Cup comes, nobody’s working and everybody just focuses on the games and discusses the team, the coaches, and what we need to do to win. Everyone plays the game, too, so people are knowledgeable when they discuss it. We have 200 million soccer coaches in Brazil!
After one of the matches we won, I could barely do anything. I was so emotionally wrecked. I was supposed to play a $1,500 event after it ended, but I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t in the state of mind to play poker. I cried so much during the match, I knew I couldn’t turn around and go make poker faces.
I say soccer is a religion in Brazil. We kind of make idols out of the players — like Ronaldo who scored two goals for us in the finals in 2002, he’s like a god. But we also can be so critical of players, too. For example, Julio Cesar, our goalkeeper, has gotten a lot of criticism before, which I why I love that he’s doing well this year. He was amazing against Chile during the penalty kicks, and I love to see someone perform well and have that kind of redemption.
The pressure is so great for the players in the World Cup. The pressure is so much more for them than it is for poker players — with all of the people in the stands cheering and millions watching every move. Most people could not handle it, and when players are able to play through it and do well, that makes the best kinds of stories, I think.
So I expect to experience some nervousness and anxiety over my last few weeks here in Las Vegas. But not over the poker… rather it’ll be because of the World Cup.
Andre Akkari is a member of Team PokerStars ProBack to Top