Brazilians Try to Focus on WSOP Despite Turmoil Back Home

Andre Akkari
André Akkari

Poker pros always have to deal with distractions while they’re at the table but this year Brazilian poker players may have it worse than any other group at the 2013 WSOP.

Brazil is currently a nation in turmoil, with mass street protests against everything from elevated bus fares to government corruption.

The protests were initially sparked by an increase in public transportation fees but quickly expanded to include many other grievances including the growing cost of hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Many Brazilian players here in Las Vegas, including 2011 WSOP bracelet winner André Akkari, are keeping an eye on the situation and wish they were closer.

“It’s really sad to be here, I want to be there but I’m a professional,” Akkari said when asked how it felt to be in Vegas instead of Brazil. “I am here representing Brazil in the World Series; I have to take care of my family.”

André Akkari: "It's Almost Like a Revolution in Brazil"

Andre Akkari
André Akkari

Akkari explained that reports coming out of the country have not been exaggerated.

“Brazil is almost like a revolution, everybody’s on the streets; everybody is complaining about something, there is no main issue,” Akkari said.

“Everybody is complaining about corruption, bad education, better healthcare system, and no politicians taking control of the process so it’s really about the people.”

The majority of the protests are now focused on political corruption above most other concerns.

“There’s a culture in Brazil of corruption that’s always been there and I don’t know why all the people have suddenly decided to wake up to fight against it,” said Brazilian professional Maria ‘Maridu’ Mayrinck.

“The corruption isn’t a novelty, it isn’t something new.”

Change Has Been a Long Time Coming

Akkari said he feels pride when he hears about his countrymen in the streets seeking to improve the country.

“It’s been a long time, like the last 40 years or 50 years of robbery and corruption by the politicians and the people who control my country,” he said when asked about the latest protests.

“After 50 years the people finally decide to do something. I’m really happy about it and very proud of them.”

While some players thought the protest would die down before they return home, Akkari is not one of them.

“I believe in the next two months the protests will not stop, everyone pushing on the social networks to keep going to the streets,” he said, “I will get into Brazil on July 15 and I’m going to be in the streets as well.”

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