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01 February 2007

Home event remains on Hachem's checklist

 Joe Hachem may have a WSOP and WPT bracelet adoring each wrist, but he won’t rest until the Aussie Millions main event trophy is sitting neatly on his mantlepiece.

I don’t know what it is but I’m going to win the Aussie Millions, my home event, eventually. They’ll be wheeling me in with the hearing aid and I’ll be still trying to win it.

There is a lot of pressure, I can’t just play like anyone else. All my fans are here, and the people who are poker players and fans expect you to win every time. They don’t realise how hard it is to win a tournament and how much fortune you need one your side. It’s not just a matter of playing well, things need to go your way. I was in my hometown and home casino, and I didn’t want to let the masses down.

On day one I was down to 4000, I just kept hanging in there, making the right plays at the right time. I got lucky a couple of times with some all-ins but I never took off. I never got a run of cards, everytime I was in front, it seemed there was a short stack who’d be all-in, I’d be in the big blind with a pair of eights or 10s and would call. They’d have two overcards. Those sort of scenarios. That stopped me from taking the leap forward.

I was really happy with my effort, except for the last couple of levels. There was one particular hand that I thought I played really badly. I didn’t realise I played it badly at the time but I do now. When you are in the middle of it, you don’t see so clearly.

It was on the TV table and we were six handed, probably down to the last 30 players. I raised under the gun with A 10 for about 35,000. My stack was about 220,000. The small blind was an amateur player who had me totally confused because of the plays he was making, the only hands he had really shown were kings and aces.

At this time, I’m steaming, I just can’t get a hand so A 10 looks like gold to me. He made it 80,000. The first feeling is that 80,000 is not so much more, and he’s representing so much strength here. Should I fold, call or move all-in?

I decided to flat-call, hoping to spike an ace, thinking that he’s made that sort of a raise with kings or queens. I thought whatever I hit of my two cards, I’ll have to go with that hand because I had over a third of my stack in the pot. The flop comes K 10 8 with two hearts, and he immediately bets 160,000. My first instinct is that he only had A Q, maybe with the ace of hearts.

So it should have been an automatic call. I spent the next 10 minutes convincing myself he had aces. I think part of that decision was trying to hang on. I learned a very valuable lesson, and it was probably the first time I’ve had to deal with that decision.

If I put it into perspective, from December 8 until January 18, I had been non-stop, flying halfway around the world, interviews, people patting me on the back, autographs, just non-stop, getting back to Australia and doing all the stuff I had to do.

To stick up for myself a little bit, I wasn’t in the best frame of mind to make the best decisions. And so I was surprised at how well I did anyway. And I found out the guy had A J after the event was over.
That’s poker; you can’t afford to make those mistakes. I think the lesson for everybody, me included, is acknowledge your mistakes and learn from them. No-one is perfect, no matter how good a player you think you are. We all make mistakes.

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