31 May 2011
LA Poker Classic and The Big Event
It seems that life just keeps getting busier and it has certainly been a hectic few months of late. I recently returned to Australia after a three- week trip to the United States in which I travelled from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, then to Scottsdale, Arizona for an appearance, back to Vegas for more poker and then to Los Angeles again before finally making it home in time for my brother Tony’s wedding!
I’m exhausted just thinking about it, but luckily it also proved to be a very successful trip with two cashes and a runner-up finish at The Big Event in LA. It didn’t start off too well though when I ran into quads twice in 150 hands during The Big Game. It’s always pretty special when that happens.
From Vegas it was off to LA for the LA Poker Classic. I played a really good tournament. The tournament itself was amazing – Matt Savage runs the best tournaments in the world hands down.
The highlight of the LA Poker Classic came right on the bubble. I only had about eight big blinds but was playing solidly and the bubble just wouldn’t burst. It seemed to go on forever. So I decided to order a round of drinks for the table to loosen things up and the next thing I know I’m hammered! It was right then that I picked up pocket aces.
Jason Senti (2010 November Niner) raised under the gun with 9-10 – he had a stack of chips – and I grabbed my chips and slammed them onto the table saying “Right, I’m all-in, bring the cameras over
now!” Right next to me was Scott Seiver who was also short-stacked and he tank- folded queens! Jason called with 9-10 and I doubled up. However, if the readers want to see how silly I looked they should google Joe Hachem LAPC bubble. They filmed the whole thing and it’s quite funny. I finished 33rd and cashed out for about USD $35,000 which isn’t a bad couple of days’ work.
After LA it was off to Scottsdale and then back to the NBC National Heads-Up event where I drew Phil Galfond in the first round. I really like Phil – we’ve played a few time together before including The Big Game last season, so I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. And the NBC Heads-Up is made for TV anyway. Basically, whoever runs the best is going to win it.
I played well but Phil caught runner- runner straight on me in two separate hands. The second time it happened I had two-pair and ended up making a big lay-down watching him closely for a few minutes. He did the classic tell of talking away freely and then suddenly just stopping and looking down at his chips. That was all I needed to know I was beat.
Anyway, I didn’t make it past Phil so next stop was LA – this is where it all got a bit crazy! I was due to fly out for Australia on Tuesday so on the drive down I said to a friend I was with “I’ve got to play this tournament and I’ve got a flight on Tuesday so if I bust I bust, but if I don’t I want to have plenty of chips”.
So I rock up five-and-a-half hours late with 27,000 chips left and within two hours I have 90,000 chips! I could do nothing wrong. Every move I made, every bluff I tried worked out. I caught runner-runner full houses. It was great.
Sunday was a day off but I actually had a really important meeting on the Monday morning regarding my TV show The Poker Star. It meant that I made it back to the tournament about 45 minutes late and I just started playing really aggressively because at this stage I was still booked to fly home the next day. As I said, I wanted to either go deep or go home so my chips were fluctuating up and down.
I had another meeting at 7.30 that night and play finished at 8.30 so I left at 7pm with 90,000 still in front of me and went to my meeting. I got a phone call afterwards telling me that I had finished the night with 74,000, there were 70 players left and 56 would be paid.
So I’m thinking, “I’m still alive and the average is only about 120,000 so I need to try and make a profit now”. The next
morning I woke up, showered, checked out of the hotel, left my bags at concierge, got a cab to the Bike and started Day 3.
I made it past the bubble with only six big blinds left but by 3pm my stack had grown to 400,000! I ended up having to call Jeannie and say “Hi honey, I’m not going to make it tonight – I’ve got chips. We’ll change it to tomorrow”. They must have thought I was mad when I went and checked straight back into my hotel again! The next morning I packed my bags again, checked out – because you never know what’s going to happen – and made my way back to the tournament.
The Big Event had a really flat pay structure until the final table so the difference between 56th and 11th was $10,000. It’s retarded. There were about 13 players left when the following hand came up. I raised UTG with the K-8 of clubs, the guy on the button calls and the flop comes 3-4-6 with two clubs. I make a continuation bet and he calls. The turn card is a King, which is great for my hand. I’ve got 370,000 left with blinds at 5000/10,000. I bet 170,000 and he instantly moves all-in.
My first instinct was that this guy was bluffing me. I didn’t think he had a set because he would have tried to get the money in the pot earlier. Could he have a pair and a flush draw? Yep that sounded about right. A pair and a straight draw? That sounded about right too. Could he have two pair? No. I thought I beat everything in his range so I stood up and started thinking. I asked for the time and it was exactly 3pm. If I called and busted I could make my flight. If I folded I’d have 20 big blinds and be scrambling again. I didn’t want to scramble.
I didn’t believe him anyway so I called, he tapped the table and turned over 5-5 for
a pair and a straight draw like I thought. That gave me 1.2 million and put me through to the final table where I started about third in chips. Victor Ramdin was there as well – a good friend of mine.
Being the nice person that I am, I went ahead and did most of the work for Victor – he knocked out one and I knocked out about five! By the time we got heads-up I had a 2:1 chip lead and was going well when I flopped a set of 2s. He bet the flop and I lead into him on the turn. He folded and I was shattered because Victor plays so aggressively heads-up. He played so fast.
Almost immediately after that hand he limps and I tapped the table with 6h-8h. The flop came 5-7-8, we got all the money in and he had flopped the nuts! A few hands later I had 10-7 suited and I flopped the nuts this time. So we went back and forth for a while and after that he just steamrolled me. We had 70 big blinds each and he just kept playing big pots.
I think he was trying to bamboozle me so that I couldn’t keep the pots small. I couldn’t do anything because I never had a hand to defend with. The last hand we got it all-in with A-K v A-J and he spiked a Jack on the flop.But it was alot of fun and it was good to be at the final table of a meaningful event – especially after all the drama at the start!
It was also an exhausting trip and when I got home (after collapsing for a while) it was straight into my brother Tony’s wedding. A week later I was still recovering from that! It was the maddest, wildest time I’ve ever had. He is my only brother and I partied harder than I’ve ever partied in my life! He had a great wedding at Crown Casino and I’d like to congratulate he and Jess on a wonderful night for all involved. See you at a final table soon.