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01 October 2009

A new star on the rise

 Like a proud parent, Joe Hachem watched with delight as his protégé Amanda De Cesare took many of the skills learned in The Poker Star to the final table, and victory, in the Joe Hachem Deep Stack Series Main Event III, as the 2005 WSOP champion discusses.

It’s hard to believe that the first event of the 2010 Aussie Millions is just days away and another year in underway. If I had to make a prediction, I think 2010 is going to be a big year for the winner of The Poker Star, Amanda De Cesare.

To be honest I think Amanda’s win is the biggest thing to happen in poker this year. For me, it was some validation for the show, as it represented a new format that had never been tried before, so that was a great success.

And then for the winner of The Poker Star, as well as the runner-up Chris Eva, to end up on the final table of the Joe Hachem Deep Stack Series III Main Event ahead of a field of more than 600 players, and for Amanda to win it … that was sensational.

Looking from the outside in, it couldn’t have been scripted any better. She’s a very competitive girl and I know every time she sits down to play she wants to win. But I think she was realistic herself that her life had changed so much in a matter of weeks and now she’s not just a TV poker player, she’s actually now a poker player.
Going deep in one of the major tournaments would have been satisfaction enough for me but it wasn’t enough for her, she had to go out and win it didn’t she! I’m very happy for her, and this victory certainly silenced the vocal minority who’d questioned her credentials.

I’ve also been quizzed as to Amanda’s selection as winner of The Poker Star over Chris. I think Chris hung himself in the last episode by playing the A-Q so aggressively. I’ve already had several discussions with him about being able to take his foot off the accelerator but for him to put all his chips in the middle at that point was a mistake. But Amanda didn’t make many of those key mistakes throughout the show.

On top of the finale of The Poker Star, it’s been a massive two months for poker, starting with the final table of the 2009 WSOP Main Event. I watched the event, and had picked Joe Cada as the danger player early on. He got lucky a number of times but you have to get some luck go your way to win such a big tournament. I think the player that was hardest done by was Antoine Saout. I think he played the best at the final table but then just got unlucky two hands in a row and was out. I think he was by far the most solid player on the day.

Phil Ivey and Jeff Shulman never got out of first gear but Joe Cada played well and in a couple of spots he made the play and it worked out for him so he’s now world champion. As far as I’m concerned he deserved it. I’m sure I’ll meet up with him at PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and have a bit to do with him in the future due to his links to PokerStars. Hopefully he’ll make it out for the 2010 Aussie Millions but that will depend on his scheduling.

After the WSOP title had been decided, all focus for me shifted to the PokerStars APPT Grand Final in Sydney. We saw almost 400 plus runners ante up $6300 for the Main Event which included a lot of young Aussie stars in the field. Once again my star didn’t shine too brightly on Australian soil, which is a continual disappointment.
Probably the most enjoyable event that I played though was the teams event, which I played with Ray Sukkar. We actually ended up bubbling the final table but it was so enjoyable playing together.

I’m a big fan of the teams event and I’d like to see a larger buy-in teams event be developed in the future; perhaps a $5000 event that would attract some more serious players. The format is so much fun with strategy involved and to have the best players playing would be a real thrill and challenge.

The heads-up was also a fun event until I ran into David Saab and couldn’t win a hand off him. And it was again great to finish the schedule with the annual PokerStars.net APPT Tournament of Champions, in which I managed third. In general I think the schedule was good with quite a few new events but I wished I’d performed better.

And so to the 2010 Aussie Millions … the guys at Crown have worked so hard for so many years and now it’s really the only non-sponsored poker event outside of the WSOP. There are no other stand-alone events like it. There’s no limitation to the people who can attend with players satelliting from a wide range of places both online and live.
People just want to come to Australia and the Aussie Millions has such a strong reputation, so they come from everywhere. It makes sense; they are treated really well and Crown has wonderful facilities, I just recommend to all those that attend from out of town is to experience some of the things Melbourne and Victoria have to offer.
The event is situated on Melbourne’s doorstep, it’s good timing around the Australian Open tennis, there are some great golf facilities and many other beautiful locations, all filtered through Crown. And from a poker perspective there’s heaps of poker available around these times but watch out when they get on my table because I’m expecting that my luck will change on home soil.

I have high hopes for 2010. I had a good run at the World Series, won the European 8-game Mixed Event in the UK, but really haven’t played that many big events. It’s a matter of pacing myself. My priority is my family, but I hope to be able to get my act together to be able to perform well in 2010.

Most of 2009 I’ve been working hard on my mental attitude to the game. I’ve been working with Jamie Glazier of Dare2Dream. The things we’ve talked about seem to be fairly obvious to me but it’s really easy to get caught up with things around you. You tend not to concentrate at the right times on the right things, and we’re trying to clear the muddy waters.

With the ANZPT, combined with the APPT and the other great events in the region, especially at Crown, I think it’s fantastic for poker and the future of poker in this region. It’s exciting that there are more ANZPT events coming up this year. It’s obvious the appetite is there, we’re giving people what they want, and they want more poker. So it’s great to see poker flourishing in this region and around the world. Happy New Year to all of our PokerNews Australia, Asia & Pacific readers, and I look forward to seeing you at the 2010 Aussie Millions.

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