Poker Legend Bachir Boumaâza shares his story with us here at RTR

Posted on by RTR Dennis

Bachir Boumaaza - Chiren80

Pokerstars Pro Chiren80, otherwise known online as Athene, is one of online gamings most popular heroes. Having dominated online gaming and set innumerable records he then turned his attention to poker. And what a success it has been for him. Constantly pushing the boundaries and setting what seem like impossible challenges he proves time and again that you can do whatever you put your mind to. We sat with the inspiring and always entertaining Bachir ‘Chiren80’ Boumaaza to pick his brain…

1) Could you begin by telling us a little about yourself? Who you are, where you are from?

I’m mainly known for my Athene video’s and started to play poker 2 years ago under chiren80. I’m from Belgium but my father is from Morocco.

2) Can you tell us how you got started in poker?

A member of my arena team started to play poker and was doing really well. When I needed more financial stability he introduced me in poker and from there on I started to grind achieving supernova elite my first year of poker.

3) You are also famous in the online gaming world, in particular for the game World of Warcraft. Do you still play regularly? Also, can you tell us about your fame within that world?

My account is still active but I haven’t been playing a lot. I’m mainly known because of all of my records in game, but also because of being very skilled as a paladin, getting the highest rankings in all brackets. Mixing this up with the arrogant character of Athene is at the core of my fame due to the controversy it generates.

4) We are a big fan of some of your YouTube videos, especially the tongue in cheek ones with your friend and girlfriend. They are hilarious. What inspired you to create those video blogs and how has it snowballed since then?

It all started as a joke, although we always aimed to reach an audience to bring up important issues such as net neutrality.

5) You seem to be a guy who both really enjoys life but also gets a huge amount done. Examples being your WOW success and also the monstrous amount of hands you’ve played on PokerStars. Where do you get your drive from?

My main drive is to make a positive difference, and although my act on YouTube is very ego poking, the underlying reason is to challenge people’s ideas as many people take gaming way to serious and Athene is just a magnifying glass of that.

6) Can you tell us what motivates you most? Fame? Money? Success?

It’s actually none of those; I would never be able to motivate myself as much if it wasn’t for the passion to make a positive change.

7) What does success mean to you?

Success is mostly linked with the validation people get from others. I just do what I think is right at any time, and just as with poker I’m not outcome dependant, when I know I did the best thing or best play, I’m successful.

8) Can you tell us about your PokerStars challenges such as your goal to play a certain amount of hands in a month? What inspires these challenges and how have you faired with them?

I started the challenge to bring attention to how poker is a game of skill. Due to the threatening legal situation in many countries, mainly the US, people should be more aware that poker is a game of skill. Legal issues can potentially affect all poker players and future poker players, it motivates me as I know I can reach help by the audience I reach and I have a responsibility to do so.

9) A great story we enjoyed was about your trip to the PokerStars offices in the Isle of Man, as you campaigned to become one of their pro players. Can you tell us about that adventure and how it turned out?

It was a crazy experience and I actually managed to video most of the trip for people to actually see the tension experienced. I was surprised when I got selected, but one of the reasons I was selected was my willingness to inspire people to go for their goals and not to give up. With everything I had achieved at PokerStars back then, I felt that going to IOM would be a small effort that could potentially affect my future a lot, so I just gave it a shot 🙂

10) What does it mean to you to be a part of the PokerStars team? Also, will we see you playing more live events on the world circuit or you are going to stick to online only?

A lot of my live event play will depend of PokerStars; I personally feel I am more of an online player. I love PokerStars as a company I think it’s by far the best online poker site in the world, and I could have easily gone to another poker website, but I wanted to work with those who represent poker the best.

11) Can you tell us about your life outside of WOW and Poker? What do you like to do in your spare time? Any other hobbies or sports etc?

You could say that it’s also my hobbies is my passion to make a positive change. I enjoy spending time with friends and my girlfriend, aside from making videos, playing poker or playing games.

12) What advice could you offer to other young players getting into the game and aiming for big successes? Have you learned any important lessons after playing so many hands that you could share with us?

Aye, I think more important than any poker strategy is the right state of mind and knowing when to stop. I think having an imaginary display telling you when to stop by tracing your neural activity and knowing when you start to play worse would be the most valuable thing for any poker player. With that tool everyone would play to their full potential and only get better. Tilting and losing focus is by far the biggest problem in poker and by being aware of that and knowing how your brain works can help a lot in that regard. Players should stop playing when they have lost a few big pots, have taken some bad beats and are down a lot of money. As much as you wanna belief you’re still playing your A game, its neurologically very unlikely the case.

13) What other players in the poker world do you admire or respect, and why?

I don’t know a lot of known poker players personally so it’s hard for me to say.

14) One of your videos we really enjoyed and that made us laugh a lot was the one where some guy beat your WOW record, so you knuckled down and destroyed his record within 24 hours haha. Can you tell us about that experience? Also, do you have similar drive to become one of the best poker players?

That was one of the craziest stunts I ever did, it was epic and I mainly did it for my fans because I knew that people would find that hilarious. I have actually never taken poker very serious, I mainly started to play to pay the bills and played in a very grinding, non active state. I could be a much better player if i would be more passionate about the game itself, but i like to mix it up and focus on the things that have the most potential to ripple through. If I felt more passionate about poker one day, I might aim to become one of the best players.

15) What do you enjoy most about all your poker and WOW successes? Have they afforded you anything in life that you particularly treasure?

Inspiring people is what I enjoy the most, to see that people actually create opportunities for themselves that they wouldn’t have come to. Some people doubt themselves and that’s their main limitation for not achieving what they want.

16) It seems you are often reinventing or at least building your online profile and attracting more and more followers of the famous Athene. What do you enjoy most about this and what is next for Athene?

I have been focussing on the star craft community and might focus on league of legends next. I like to create controversy because that’s what gets people talking and that’s what challenges peoples belief systems. I get more and more experience in what works best and I’m sure that towards the future it will only get better. I’m just very open and sceptical and don’t focus on certain fixations, I see what people love the most and tune myself into it.

17) Can you share a story with us about yourself that we probably do not already know?

Probably that I was very active in politics when I was very young and managed to be one of the youngest politicians in Belgium as I was elected as first follower in provincial and communal elections in 2000. Being so involved in politics behind the scene when I was so young has given me a reality check on how things work and is the reason for the different direction I took.

18) If you weren’t involved in WOW or Poker what would you be doing instead?

I would probably be a different person by now, it has shaped me so much, maybe I would have been working as a volunteer for charity or trying to reach a large audience through other means, I don’t know, so many things are possible.

19) What are your goals for 2011?

I would like to double the subscribers on Athenewins and mean a lot more to the poker community. I will also be focussing on giving tips to beginners and be more accessible as an online pro. And who knows maybe things pop up on my path, I always try to stay flexible.

20) Can you leave us with some parting words of wisdom?

I’ll try to say something that helped me in poker and life in general without sounding to cheap lol. With openness and scepticism, the key principles of the scientific method, we don’t need decades of trial and error to sort out which of our convictions may be improbable.

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