Lee Davy takes a trip down memory lane to pick out his favourite interviews of 2018 including talking to Andreas Hoivold about his jail time, falling in love with Andre Akkari, discussing love, forgiveness and learning with Bill Perkins, and much more.
I’m always grateful that I get the opportunity to travel around the world to interview some of the most incredible people. There are always too many to mention, and I earn something from every single one of them, but here are my best in 2018.
1. The Jimmy Hoffa Files: Andreas Hoivold “I Asked Them To Kill Me. I Said Please, Shoot Me.”
My favourite interview of the year wasn’t one that I carried out while wearing CalvinAyre colours. I was working freelance at the Malta Poker Festival when I saw Andreas Hoivold sitting at the table, and I interviewed him for the PaulPhuaPoker website.
I assumed it would be a run of the mill 10-15 minute interview where Hoivold would answer my questions in a very rote manner, but during my research I learned that the former European Poker Tour (EPT) Champion had nearly lost his life in a car crash, served time in jail on manslaughter charges, developed an addiction to painkillers, and lost a child.
I touched upon all of these points in what turned out to be an extremely emotional and touching tale of tragedy and tenacity. It’s the first time I have ever interviewed anyone who was feeling the pain of a broken arm throughout our time together.
As usual with these things, full credit must go to Andreas for being willing to talk about some challenging topics.
2. Falling in Love With Andre Akkari
Another emotionally charged interview ranks as another favourite, and that’s my discussion with Andre Akkari.
It was the second time I had interviewed the Brazilian in 2018, the first being at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA), and then in Barcelona for the EPT, and the second meeting was my favourite of the two.
Sometimes you click with someone. There is a transference of similar energy, and it allows a connection of trust and vulnerability to take place that results in an understanding of what makes someone tick, away from the poker table.
Poker can be a very selfish game played by greedy people, for selfish reasons, but Akkari is in the game for a very different reason. From our beginning, talking about his Platinum Pass Adventure giveaway during the Brazilian Series of Poker (BSOP), to his touching stories about his mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s, to using his poker winnings to send a friend’s daughter to school – you couldn’t help but fall in love with the guy.
3. That’s entertainment! Bill Perkins on learning, forgiveness and love
I interviewed Bill Perkins in his plush suite during the PCA, and it was an extra special interview because my son Jude was with me. It’s always nice for your child to see you ‘working,’ and I like it when my son is mixing in the company of multi-millionaires, especially the ones that think and act like Perkins (he even allowed Jude to interview him for ten minutes).
It’s the first time I have ever interviewed him. The first thing that struck me was how fit, lean and handsome he was. He was also extremely composed, refusing to sit down, preferring to stand during the interview.
I decided to ask him about the tenets of learning, forgiveness and love after reading on his Twitter account how he planned to improve in these key areas throughout 2018 and his answers were profound and illuminating.
4. Dietrich Fast on high stake conflicts, purpose and more
I interviewed Dietrich Fast after several days of hounding German high rollers throughout the Triton Poker Series in Montenegro. Fast was worried that his English wasn’t good enough for a full interview but agreed to sit with me for ten minutes as a trial, and I loved every one of them.
I found Fast to be unafraid of vulnerability and willing to talk about anything from being raised by very conservative Russian parents to the needle that exists in high stakes poker including sharing some candid and controversial opinions on who he believes to be one of the worst poker players operating in the high stakes realm.
I can’t wait to grab a full hour of this man’s time.
5. Jason Koon
My final favourite interview of 2018 was another one I did for PaulPhuaPoker during the Triton Poker Series in Montenegro. I sat down for a video interview with Jason Koon, and I found him to be one of the most charming, interesting and selfless people I had ever spoken to within poker.
What I loved about the interview is that Jason’s still pinching himself at being able to rub shoulders with the likes of Isaac Haxton, Phil Galfond and Ben Tollerene, and yet he finished the year earning $12.4m. Not bad for someone who was once homeless.