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If you're in Las Vegas during a FIFA World Cup Brazil match you want to watch it at Andre Akkari's house. So that's exactly what we did. As one of the only Brazilian World Series of Poker bracelet winners, Andre Akkari is the godfather of poker in Brazil and he's leading the charge of Brazilian poker players competing at the WSOP. Akkari invited PokerListings.com to watch the quarter-final match against Colombia and extended some serious southern (hemisphere) hospitality. We talk to Akkari, poker pro Nicolau Villa-Lobos, two-time Brazilian Olympic medal winner Fernando Scherer and poker reporter turned pro Ivan Martins to find out how hard it is for Brazilians to leave their home country during World Cup, how much foottball means to them and how big poker is getting in their home country. Get an inside look at how the Brazilian poker community comes together in Las Vegas to support each other as their national team goes for the most important title in Brazilian sport.
Andre: Yeah, I have my friends here. I have all the Brazilians here in my house, it's perfect, it's a perfect scenario for me, since I'm not in Brazil, you know? That's the best scenario possible, because they are all suffering too, they are all want to go to Brazil, and want to stay in Brazil, but they are all poker players or poker media. At least we are together and we are rooting together and we are crying together and smiling together, so it is really nice, really nice for me.
Nicolau: I'm really fortunate to be here, with 888 and everybody, with my friends, but the world cup is once in a lifetime so I really would like to be there, but I will do my best in the main event. I hope I cannot see the final. That's my goal.
Fernando: Yeah, we're not in Brazil but the heart is still in Brazil, it's still with the team. It's like everybody's together, that's the coolest thing about poker is like, you meet a lot of people, you sometimes you play against, but it's so cool that everybody's a friend. You talk for 12 hours during the tournament in the same table, then you meet different people, then you come here to Vegas first time, and then you'll have the chance to watch a World Cup with a lot of good players. Professional players from Brazil here out together and at the same time you watch the game, and after you chat about some hands you played at the World Series, and then you learn more. It's the best way of learning, is to be close to the best ones.
Andre: Poker in Brazil is growing a lot, a lot. I think that's much more than the Americans and the European guys can imagine, and the BSOP, that's our biggest tournament, is probably the second biggest tournament in the world.
Ivan: I was in studying law, I was in last years of law university, and I gave up all to play poker. So my family was "Oh my god what he's doing? Go back now to university and finish your study." So I said "No," and it was a difficult choice, at the time, but I did the right thing at this time, and I'm here now.
Fernando: A lot people in Brazil think that, about poker that it's not a way of living because you could lose money. But I always tell, because when I was a swimmer, I have to pay the fee to get into the races. Someone has to pay the fee to play, and the poker game is the same. You pay the fee to enter in the tournament, and then if you win you make a lot of money. I think poker can be a way of living, you can have sponsors, but you have to train, you have to practice, you have to focus, and it's a lot of stress, because everybody thinks "Okay, just go sit at the table, get two cards, and I don't have to think about it." You have to think a lot during the tournament, and you have to be focused 12 hours a day. It's a lot of mind stressful also, and I think poker's a really way of living, you can make a lot of money. But it's like soccer's like swimming. To make money, you have to be the best.