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01 August 2008

Poker looks healthy after another successful WSOP

2005 WSOP world champion Joe Hachem closely examined the state of the game during the 2008 World Series of Poker, and liked what he saw.

WSOP is one big highlight reel: we all look forward to it, we’re all drained at the end of it and can’t wait to get home but there’s always that dream of being in the hunt for another bracelet. My hopes of the adding another bracelet again fell short this year, but as ever, the WSOP provided plenty of historic moments for poker.

Maybe the highlight for me at this year’s WSOP was the fact that the main event field exceeded last year’s number. People had a lot of doubts after last year that poker was on the way down with all the issues relating to the UIGEA. But the 2008 WSOP showed that poker is still alive and well – underlined by the fact that other areas of the US economy are not in great shape.

And have a look at the other events – there are hardly any online qualifiers for the tournaments prior to the main event; it’s just players buying in directly or qualifying through a live satellite, and we absolutely killed records across the board.

I think the new events that were added to the schedule worked really well; it mixed it up instead of so many No Limit Hold’em events. The different levels of buy-in also work really well – we haven’t restricted the guy who wants to play the $1500 events and we haven’t restricted the guy who wants to play $10,000 events. I’d like to see one bigger buy-in event for the Pot-Limit Eight-or-Better, there’s always just one $1500 event and people love it. If there was a $5000 or $10,000 buy-in, even a rebuy event, it would be fantastic.

I collected my first two WSOP career cashes in non-Hold’em events – 35th in the $1500 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi/Lo Split then 23rd in the $1500 H.O.R.S.E.

As always, the main event provided its mix of highs and lows. It could easily have finished for me early on day one. After raising from early position, I had one caller before the flop came 9s 8s 3h. The action returned to me, I bet 1500, my opponent raised to 3000, I re-raised to 5000, and he re-raised to 8000, before the 4h on the turn.
I check-called the all-in bet holding pocket 10s but was in trouble as my opponent had flopped a set of eights. Down came the 10d on the river, and I was up to 45,000 in chips.

By the end of day one, I was down to 13,000 but again doubled up early on day two with queens against eights (again), taking my stack to more than 30,000, then to more than 60,000 by the midway point of the day.

My tournament ended in a hand that started with five-way action on a flop of 2c 2s 5c. I committed my remaining 13,000 in response to a raise, before another player pushed all-in for about 30,000. The player who initially raised showed pocket kings, the other player Qc Qs while I was chasing a flush with Jc 6c. The queens took the lead on the turn Qh, and stayed there when the Jh landed on the river.

After the WSOP, Team PokerStars Pro headed back to Canada to film a new series of commercials – you might remember my efforts on the basketball court from last year’s campaign. Then it was home for the Vic Champs – it’s always great to get home for an event at Crown.

Now my travel nightmare starts for the rest of 2008! After a couple of weeks off after the Vic Champs, I’m off to Macau, then London, maybe Russia, back to Auckland and then the PokerStars.net APPT Grand Final in Sydney. Then it’s almost time for the 2009 Aussie Millions. Here we go again …

Ed’s note: keep an eye out for Joe Hachem at the final table of last year’s PokerStars.net APPT Macau: Asian Poker Open event when season 1 of Asia’s premier poker tour screens on FoxSports in the coming weeks. Keep an eye on your local program guide for details.

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