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01 December 2009

Mixin' it up - Welcome addition to the trophy cabinet

His own TV series and an unsung victory in one of the hardest formats of the game – just another day in the life of 2005 WSOP Main Event winner and PokerStars.net Team Australia Pro Joe Hachem, who we welcome to PokerNews (Australia, Asia & Pacific) for the first time.

By the time this issue of PokerNews (Australia, Asia & Pacific) hits the newsstands, we’ll be down to the last three contestants in my TV series The Poker Star. I’m very proud of the result and the show is ground breaking in every respect. This show has the potential to be a mega hit all over the world, and introduce poker to millions of people who haven’t even thought about poker.

The quality of the product is brilliant. We’ve used poker without using ‘poker people’. Our viewers are watching poker without thinking about the fact that they’re watching poker. It’s just a very powerful concept and show. I’ve been working on this show for four years and I’m very proud of it. Although, it has been a long and tough road but nothing comes easy. You just have to keep persevering.

The contestants were great. They stepped up to every challenge that I threw at them. They listened and learned, tried their best and showed genuine passion about appearing in The Poker Star. It wasn’t about the prize; I wanted ordinary people who played the game of poker and loved it and had that twinkle in their eye, the aspiration to become The Poker Star.

They all had star qualities in their own way and their poker abilities varied but we had some really good players. There were tough spots along the way, about who was to go next, because at points the difference between them wasn’t great. I’ve always believed that what makes people successful in their lives is what makes them successful at the poker table. And you bring those qualities with you. That’s why the code has specific relevance and was what we talked about each week.

Number one priority is to get season two of The Poker Star up and running. So far we’ve had nothing but great reviews about this series, which is really good so it’s just a matter of getting it together, and starting to look for next year’s Poker Star!

It’s always nice to able to practise what you preach and I was thrilled to add another title to my name during the PokerStars EPT London event, where I won the £2000 European 8-Game Championship. I’m extremely proud of this title considering I only took up the other games last year.

It was the first time in European poker that an eight-game championship had been held. I think the players have progressed from Hold’em to Omaha to H.O.R.S.E. to 8-game because there’s a bit of something in it for everyone. Being able to play eight games says to the world that the successful player is a more well rounded poker player than just being a one-game specialist. The 8-game event rounds off your game.

As if mastering eight games is not a big enough challenge, we had to move venues when the tournament reached heads-up between Nikolay Evdakov and myself. He had a 2:1 chip lead on me at that point and I just thought to myself, ‘I’ve only lost heads up once in a tournament when Dutch Boyd got lucky on the river so I need to crush this guy.’ In the end the cards came my way and I played well.

I finished the 8-game event at about 3am in the morning, got to bed about 6am and starting playing again about noon in the Main Event. I lasted about two hours before running kings into aces.

I’m now home for a couple of months, which is great. That means I won’t be attending the final table of the 2009 WSOP Main Event. I like the concept of the November Nine because it builds suspense – I never used to watch the WSOP in the past, episode to episode as it was going but now I watch it, I want to see how the guys got there and then watch the final show. So I think it’s a great idea and think it’s great for poker.

However, it meant I was in town for the third annual Joe Hachem and Shane Warne Charity Poker Tournament. We were expecting about 500 people and to take over the entire poker room. We were also hoping to raise as much as $400,000, which would be a huge effort. People are really supporting us but I’d like to see some more poker players involved, putting their hands in their pockets.

They seem to only be involved if there is something in it for them, which is disappointing for me as a poker player. I’d like to see them say it doesn’t matter, enjoy the night and support the charity and not expect anything in return. We’re really supported well by the corporate community and some of the supporting online poker companies like PokerStars and 888 are coming together to support a great cause. We can all come together and take some time out and raise some money for the kids. I understand that not everyone can afford $1000 but there’s plenty who can so hoped they would show up!

I’m also thrilled to announce that an extra Joe Hachem Deep Stack Series has been added to the Crown schedule. The demand has been overwhelming. Crown’s director of poker operations Jonno Pittock at Crown asked me a couple of months ago if we could organise another event. I said if people want it, let’s do it. It’s great. It gives the average player the chance to play a deep stack tournament, which is great.

After the Joe Hachem Deep Stack Series, it’s off to Sydney for the final event on season three of the PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour. I’m looking for a bloody big performance in the APPT Grand Final! I can win everywhere but on my home soil so I have to get my head together for the tournament and go in there and give it my best shot. It would be so nice to have a deep run and give myself a chance in an APPT event. The standard in Sydney is by far the best of the APPT tournaments and there’ll be plenty of international players as well. There’ll be value but I’ll be trying to stay out of trouble and just play the cards I’m dealt.

I’m looking forward to spending time at home over Christmas and New Year – then the madness starts again with the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and the 2010 Aussie Millions. It looks like a great event again this year.

People love the Aussie Millions. They get treated well, it’s a world class tournament, there are many great events – for me I give every tournament my very best shot but for this one I just hope things run right, just to get the monkey off my back.

The international players love the event. Now that the main event starts several days after the PCA then we may see a few new international faces this year. It’s a smart move to push it back; it gives the best shot at getting as many of the top players to Melbourne for the event.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thanks our readers for their support during 2009. Merry Christmas and have a safe New Year.

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