Articles

01 February 2008

Running hot and cold to start '08

 The dream of winning the Aussie Millions has come and gone once again for Joe Hachem. “Bring on 2009!” he declared as the 2005 WSOP champion finalises his schedule for the rest of this year.

After 2007 ended on such a high with my victory in the first PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour Tournament of Champions – the first tournament I’d won on home soil – 2008 didn’t get off to a great start.

The New Year started in the Bahamas – normally a nice spot to spend the northern winter but thanks to an Arctic blast, it was just 12ºC when we arrived at the Atlantis Resort and you don’t go to the Bahamas to lie on the beach when it’s 12ºC!

Worse still, I’d never been so sick in all my life. I ended up spending seven days in bed, getting penicillin shots and taking antibiotics. I was shaking and shivering while I was playing the tournament. I didn’t want to let PokerStars down – I simply ran out of steam about three-quarters of the way through day one.

Once we arrived back in Australia just before the start of the Aussie Millions, I had two more shots of penicillin and another course of antibiotics and finally felt just about right when day one of the main event rolled around.

It was such a shame because it was the first time in the past three years that I’d been able to get home early enough to play in some of the preliminary events at the Aussie Millions. For the first time, I made a great start in the Aussie Millions main event and I was among the chip leaders. I’d never entered day two with an above average stack. Phil Ivey was the chip leader on 163,000 on day 1B but I wasn’t far behind on just over 110,000.

Just under 340 players of the 780 who started the tournament returned for day two, and I found myself on the same table as Ivey, Andy Black and a young local guy called Peter Ling, who doubled through me fairly early in the day with aces against my queens.
Shortly after, Ling raised under the gun. I sensed that he didn’t have such a strong hand so I took the flop, along with Ivey, which came 7 3 3 with two spades.

Ker-ching, I’m holding 5 3 so it’s a reasonably easy hand to play because if you don’t hit, you go away. “This is beautiful,” I thought, I can double up to 180-200,000, which was then about four-times the chip average.

Ivey checked, Ling bet 12,000, I had about 70,000 and decided to raise him to about 40,000. If he has a big pair, he pushes – I didn’t want to lock him out of the pot altogether. Ivey folded, Ling thinks and puts me all-in. Beautiful! I call and he shows me 6s 6c, it’s an amazing play and I couldn’t ask to be in better position.

Then comes the runner-runner spades to give him a flush, and just like that, my tournament is over. Words can’t describe how I felt after making such a good start. Then, Peter Ling goes on to finish fourth in the main event, worth $500,000. Good luck to him, that’s poker, that’s how it goes.

And still, with five Aussies at the final table, we came up short! I have a theory, they’re waiting for me to get there because I will win it – I promise you!!

Since the Aussie Millions, I’ve been keeping busy with some commitments to the Shane Warne Foundation, which we made during last year’s charity event. And kudos to Shane for the way he performed in the Aussie Millions main event, making it well into day two.

I was proud of how he played his short stack. So many people give up with a short stack, and gamble with a hand, but he picked his spots. One of the best things about Shane is the way he listens to advice, many people want advice but won’t listen to it – he listens. Don’t ask me how my leg spin bowling is coming along!

Now I’m counting down to the start of a busy travel schedule, my feet won’t touch the ground until the WSOP wraps-up at the end of July.

First up is the NBC National Heads-up Championship at Caesars Palace, which I’m really looking forward to, plus the PokerStars EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo and the first event on the PokerStars.net APPT for 2008.

Back to Articles