Invited to the PokerStars European Poker Tour Monte Carlo 2022, we had the opportunity and pleasure to meet André Akkari, PokerStars ambassador for many years. We know his achievements in poker and on the EPT circuit, but we don’t know him personally, and our meeting made me recognise that André takes his role as brand ambassador, and the sport in general, seriously and is exactly what PokerStars needs in terms of global brand communication.
Winner of the 2011 World Series of Poker $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em tournament, André Akkari wins you over with his warm and calm manner. One of the world’s best poker players, he uses the pseudonym ‘AAkkari’ and is quoted with winnings of over $1,049,478. Jovial, thoughtful, always smiling, in love with poker and unique table experiences, André Akkari is the person you always want to chat with.
The interview took place on 3 May 2022 during a break in the tournament, at which time André was still in the game.
Why poker? Why did you choose to play poker professionally?
It was a real opportunity for me, I was at a point where I wasn’t happy with what I was doing, I wasn’t happy with my job and that’s when poker came up. I liked it, it was a very good decision for me.
Which tournament impressed you the most? What about the prizes you won and why?
I’ve been playing poker for 17 years and I’ve played in a lot of tournaments, I’ve encountered a lot of different playing situations. However, one of the best tournaments I’ve played in was EPT Barcelona. A tournament that I won very well, I was cheered on by my friends, my staff, everyone supported me, it was an incredible atmosphere.
Do you have a colleague you respect, a player you really like and learn from? How do you feel about continually studying and developing your poker skills?
Actually, poker is all about that. About analyzing, discussing the hands played, learning from it. We have a lot of groups in Brazil for that where there are many players who analyze and discuss to find the best strategies. I like being in those groups, I feel very comfortable there. I have a very special friend, Rafael Moraes, a very good player and I respect him a lot. He is one of the best Brazilian poker players, from whom I learn a lot, especially some parts of the game that I miss or don’t have enough time to analyze. And he is excellent at telling me “you made a mistake there or there”. One of my best friends, an excellent player, I’m proud to have him on my side.
In general, poker as an activity consumes a lot of resources. How do you manage to organise your time? Do you have enough time for other activities or hobbies? Do you have a secret or a technique that helps you to overcome accumulated tension, unpleasant moments, stress generated by the game?
It’s as true as it gets. Poker consumes a lot of resources. I have to find time for other activities because I also have a job related to organizing @Furia (Andre is Co-CEO at Furia Esports) and I always have to find ways to split my time between poker and organizing @Furia activities. I think I’m doing pretty well, trying to avoid problems as much as possible, trying to surround myself with people who can help me. It’s a very good decision to have people around you to help and support you in activities you don’t have much time for.
The people on my staff take care of all the organisational problems and I try to be efficient. I had some tough times 14-15 years ago when poker took a lot of my time but I got over it.
Where do you see yourself in 10 or 15 years? Have you thought about what you’ll do if you quit poker?
I plan to play poker all my life. I’m not going to quit, I’m not even thinking about quitting, I’m not even thinking about quitting. I don’t want to play at the intensity I’m playing at these days either, but I’m going to keep playing poker.
So in 10 years I plan to enjoy life, watch my kids grow up and play poker.
What can you tell us about the mistakes you made when you started playing poker? What should you have avoided and what do you not recommend a beginner to do?
Actually, I made a lot of mistakes. Technically, I made a lot of mistakes but I didn’t make any serious mistakes like going over my budget. It also helped me a lot that I was already a father when I started playing so I avoided making serious mistakes. The biggest mistake, however, is playing consistently over your poker budget. In poker it matters a lot to make the best decisions and to realise the winnings you have, to collect what you win.
If I were to change anything, maybe I wouldn’t spend so much time, so many hours playing poker. Because I end up not noticing how my girls are growing up and I’m not with them. By playing, I miss out on important moments in their lives, and this is where unpleasant dilemmas can arise.
Otherwise, regarding the playing budget, there are players who never learn, there are players who don’t follow certain rules, but that’s also part of the learning process. But to be a successful player you have to have a strategy, you have to learn constantly, you have to follow certain rules.
I started by playing freerolls, I grew up, I managed to organize myself. However, it’s not easy, especially when you tend to grow too fast. Basically, if you have $100, you have to play $1 hands, 1% of the bank. You have to do volumes to progress and if you have weaker periods, you have to play $0.5 and be patient, watch your progress. Study the hands, review the charts, the game results, play as much as possible (but on the same hand). When you’re in a weak period, the correct tendency is to play low stakes against weaker players. This restores your confidence and helps you raise your game again.
You can also read: EPT Monte Carlo 2022 – Impressions from the playing room
What does Monte Carlo mean to you? What makes EPT Monte-Carlo so special?
Monte-Carlo is absolutely amazing. I think I’ve been here for the last 11-12 years and every time I come here I make a profit, I win something, I love the sessions, I love the hotels, it’s lovely. It’s also a good opportunity for me to meet players, have fun, it’s always great here.
If patience is an important quality in poker, do you think it can be developed through training? What would be the 3 most important skills a good poker player should possess?
Patience is something rare in the new digital generation. With so much information around, in the world we live in it’s hard to be patient. Everyone is in a hurry, everyone is stressed, everyone is against the clock, information is for everyone so it’s pretty hard to be patient. On the other hand, I repeat, it’s all about making the best decisions at the right time.
I think patience is something you can learn, it’s a quality you can develop because we can constantly improve and we can learn anything. It’s not easy, it’s not easy, you have so much to do and so much on your mind…