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Akkari: "I Can See Neymar Develop; He's Getting Better and Better"
André Akkari continued the "best year of his career" this past week with a deep run in the EPT Barcelona main event before finally falling on Day 5.
The most renowned Brazilian member of Team PokerStars Pro, Akkari has carried the poker flag for his country since his WSOP bracelet win.
Recently, though, he's had to share the stage with a couple of names even more famous in his home country - soccer legends Ronaldo and Neymar Jr.
We caught up with him shortly after his bust to find out more about his surge of success in 2015, the rumors of a public ban on poker in Brazil and just how serious about the game his pal Neymar has become.
PokerListings: Without a tournament to play tonight what are your plans now?
AA: I have tickets for the FC Barcelona game tonight. I’m going to go there with my friend Neymar. It’s going to be great. The stadium is fantastic.
PL: Would you rather be there tonight or still in the main event?
AA: Oh, if I had that choice I’d definitely still play in the main.
PL: And if it was between a side event and the Barca game?
AA: Then I would probably be in the football stadium. In fact Neymar told me that if I was still in the main event tonight he would come here after the game and rail me.
PL: What would they have done if Neymar was still in the tournament today?
AA: Jesus Christ, imagine that. It would have been so crazy.
PL: There was a bizarre piece of news in the media quite recently. Allegedly poker was banned from the public in Brazil. How much of that is true?
AA: Nothing. It was a complete misunderstanding. Somebody from the foreign, non-Brazilian media read something about gambling in Brazil and then mistranslated it.
What really happened was that the Brazilian president Dilma had written a bill in which sportsbetting and other types of gambling were prohibited and poker was not even included.
To be exact they didn’t even exactly ban gambling. What the bill says is, 'if you get caught gambling, you will have to pay a fine.' But it doesn’t make sense at all.
PL: But who’s going to check in on them? There are over 200 million people in Brazil.
AA: Yes, exactly. So, somebody from the poker media picked it up and wrote on a poker website that poker will be banned in public, which is completely untrue.
PL: Thank you for clearing that up. Now, since Dilma took over from Lula, not many things seem to have gone her way.
AA: Lula was a huge star in Brazil; it was him who built up Dilma as his successor. However, it didn’t work out and she’s been involved in several scandals.
There was never any proof, her name was never on anything, but if you ask my bet I say she was involved.
PL: Are you saying that if there was proof they would have been too stupid to cover it up?
AA: Exactly. But I have to say I truly believe she never took any money. We are in a big crisis in Brazil right now but the problem is, even if Dilma stepped down, I don’t see any other people who could step up.
You know I’m always optimistic, I’m always rooting for my favorite place Brazil, but they are working hard on destroying my optimism. And they’re getting there.
PL: There were riots and demonstrations before the football World Cup. It looks like some stadiums have now been transformed into bus parking lots. So, were the demonstrations justified?
AA: All the criticism was justified. They wasted incredible amounts of money and all the stadiums were far too expensive.
The World Cup as an event was nice although the ending was terrible for us. But I think it was good for us, that Germany kicked us out, because if we had won the Cup that would have covered up all the problems.
We need the media to show us who the bad guys are, to put the finger in the wound.
PL: So now that everybody knows about the problems, you’re organizing the Olympics? How does that make sense?
AA: I don’t know what’s going to happen. The Olympics are a different kind of event. It’s organized by different companies, there are other institutions involved.
So I do think that we’ll have less problems with corruption and with delegating the money to the right places. Still, as soon as the games start, the politicians will use them to hide the problems of the country.
PL: Before we finish let’s get back to poker again. You were one player to support Neymar with his game. What do you think of him as a player?
AA: He’s enjoying the game. For him it’s great entertainment. But he also wants to learn. He keeps sending me text messages all the time. I’m very happy about this.
If you ask me if he can be a professional, I’d say maybe in 10 or 15 years, but I guess that’s not the question.
PL: No. The question is, does he get the hang of it?
AA: Yes, I think he does. I can say that the quality of the questions he’s asking me is improving. I can see him develop, he’s getting better and better.
PL: You were top three in the chip counts after Day 3. Then what happened?
AA: I took a bad beat on Day 4 and I couldn’t recover from it. It was an interesting hand, though.
PL: What happened?
AA: I raised 2x to 32,000 from the cut-off. The button made it 33,000 because he didn’t see my bet.
The blinds folded and then the button wanted to fold, too, but the dealer said, ‘no, you’re calling his raise.' I had pocket fives.
The flop was A-4-5. I checked because his range was so weak and I knew he was just stealing the blinds.
He bet, and I called, and the turn was a deuce. I check again, he bets, and I call. The river is a queen and there is no flush on the board.
I check again and he makes a huge bet. I’m thinking he can do that with a couple of hands like A-4 or A-2, so I call and he shows J-3 off.
I took a long time to call but I guess it was a mistake. But anyway, I’m happy.
I’m having the best year in my career. I have several deep runs and I feel like I’m getting better with age just like wine.