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01 April 2009

Will you be Australia's first Poker Star

 In a coup for the local poker industry, Joe Hachem will front Australia’s first poker reality show when The PokerStar airs later this year. He’ll need to fit his production commitments into a hectic schedule that includes LAPT, EPT and WSOP events in the coming months.

It’s been a whirlwind few weeks – from Caesars in Las Vegas for the NBC National Heads-up Championship to the Joe Hachem Deep Stack Series at Crown to Argentina and by the time this issue of Bluff hits the stand, I’ll be in Monaco for the 2009 PokerStars EPT Grand Final. Phew!

But the most exciting news relates to the announcement of my new TV show, The Poker Star. I’ve been working on this project for some time in conjunction with PokerStars.net, so it’s great to see the hard work starting to come to fruition.

The Poker Star, which will air on Network 10’s new HD channel ONE in October this year, is a first in this category for Australian TV. My aim is to find and mentor the next great Australian poker champion on the skills they need to survive as a poker star.

The cast will have to endure a number of challenges; many of which parallel with life lessons to tease out their true poker skills. At the end of each show I’ll review the performance in the challenges and the weekly poker tournament to determine who will return next week.

The winner of The Poker Star will take home $100,000. They will also live a poker players dream, playing in four of the biggest poker tournaments in the world. I’ll be there to act as a mentor and sounding board as they enter the realm of big-time tournament poker.

Eleven Australians of different ages, from all walks of life, will live together in a house in Melbourne, where they will be filmed around the clock. Over the three weeks of filming in June, our competitors will take part in a series of poker games, challenges and eliminations – until one player is crowned The Poker Star.

Over the course of the show we will get to know the contestants and discover what makes them tick. The Poker Star is a show about real people, revealed through their daily lives and their performances in one of the most competitive sports in the world.

I know there are so many talented poker players in Australia that are hoping for an opportunity to showcase their skills. I think this show will really help them do this. I am very excited to be able to show Australians what the skills are behind being a poker star. Keep an eye on our website www.thepokerstar.com.au for more information.

Speaking of TV, some of you may have seen my first appearance on High Stakes Poker in recent weeks. A week after Tom durrrr Dwan and Barry Greenstein played the biggest pot in the show’s history (Dwan took down the $919,000 pot from my fellow Team PokerStars Pro), I joined a table that featured Howard Lederer, Phil Laak, my good mate Antonio Esfandiari, The Simpsons producer Sam Simon, actor/director Nick Cassavetes, Patrik Antonius and Daniel Negreanu.

The biggest hand I played was against Lederer – he made it $3000 pre-flop and I called with pocket jacks. The flop came K-7-6, all spades. Lederer held the only spade and led out for $4500 and I called. The turn was 5s – host Gabe Kaplan commented that “Howard doesn’t know if he’s happy about that spade or not. Hachem calling on that flop may mean Joe has a big spade like the ace or the queen.” Lederer checked, I bet $8500, Lederer tanked before raising to $18,500, I made it $38,500 and Lederer folded.

We had a great time on the show, with Antonio and Phil proposing plenty of sidebets. I took the under on what rating Cassavetes would give the movie Pulp Fiction between one and 100. Although the mark was set in the 80s, Cassavetes gave the film a 98, which costing me $1000!

The NBC National Heads-up Championship is also currently screening in the US. Unfortunately, my time in the event was all too brief after I bowed out in the first round to John Juanda.

A world away from the set of High Stakes Poker and the NBC National Heads-up Championship, I had a great time at Crown for the 2009 Joe Hachem Deep Stack Series, and was pleased to be able to play a wide variety of events and meet scores of the new players making their first appearance in an event at Crown. That’s what makes this event so special, and I’m thrilled to see so many new players making the most of the opportunities afforded – literally – by the JHDSS.

Congratulations to Daniel Botta on winning the Main Event, and all the other event winners across the two weeks. Bring on 2010!
Half a world away – literally – I’m currently in Mar del Plata, the most popular beach resort town in Argentina. It’s about a 45-minute flight from the capital city of Buenos Aires. The weather is sunny, they serve great steaks and wine and Casino Central is said to be one of the finest in the country, making this a perfect setting for the season two finale of the PokerStars.net Latin American Poker Tour.

This completes “quads” for me – I’ve played in EPT, APPT, and ANZPT but never on the LAPT so I’m looking forward to joining local Team PokerStars Pros Leo Fernandez, Maria Mayrinck, and tennis Boris Becker for the $5200 buy-in Grand Final.

From here, it’s a long trek north to Europe for the finale to the fifth season on the PokerStars European Poker Tour: the Monte Carlo EPT Grand Final.

The line-up of events has been expanded to 14 in 2009, making this one of the biggest poker events anywhere in the world. The €10,000 buy-in NLHE tournament, which attracted a total of 842 players last season, always proves a riveting conclusion to the EPT year and is set to top all records in 2009.

The main event is only one of the attractions however. This year, the EPT is also adding on two major new tournaments - the European High Roller Championship and the European Pot Limit Omaha Championship. This is the third High Roller event of the season and – with a record €25,000 buy-in - is certainly going to be the biggest. The new €5,000 PLO tournament is the first of its kind but likely to also prove a huge draw.

Throw in the ever-popular Battleship tournaments - where players compete online and face-to-face – and the Ante Up For Africa charity tournament, which will raise money for the current humanitarian relief efforts in crisis torn Darfur, and the EPT Grand Final is shaping up as the biggest poker carnivals ever staged in Europe.

Last year, I can agonisingly close to the final table, finishing in 11th position. The winner, Canadian Glen Chorny, took home more than €2 million. This year … one time!

Then, unbelievably, it’s back to the Rio in Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker. By the time the next issue (July-August) of Bluff Australasia is released, I’ll be busily preparing for the 2009 WSOP Main Event amid a myriad of activities around the annual circus that is the WSOP in Las Vegas.

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