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In the latest of his exclusive blogs for PokerMedia Australia, Joseph Hachem discusses his recent trip to Europe for the WSOP, his new charity event to raise funds for Autism Spectrum Australia and shares his thoughts on a new generation of humourless players at the tables.

I’ve just returned home after my first trip to Europe in 12 months during which I played WSOP Europe and EPT San Remo. I had never played poker in Cannes, France. It’s an amazing place. The first event I played was the €5300 Pot Limit Omaha, in which I ended up finishing sixth.

I chipped right down to 2000 on day one in a hand after being crippled in a big pot. I somehow clawed my way back and reached the final table with a decent amount of chips, around the average. I was really hoping that it would be time for a second bracelet but I just couldn’t get anything going.

I don’t think I won a pot on the final table. I finally got it in with middle set against top set and basically busted. So the final table was a non-event for me. I’m still happy with the result.

I then played a charity event, which I happened to win. There were about 40 pros in the field with a €500 entry and €500 add-on. I picked up another watch for the collection, a trophy and some cash.

Then came the WSOPE Main Event. I just scraped through day one then busted early on day two after being coolered in a hand with A-J against A-Q. I was out in about five minutes!

I was planning to head straight home but my travel agent couldn’t get me out any earlier so I decided to play EPT San Remo, and combine that with a visit to my cousin in Brussels. It was my first trip to San Remo. It’s a very cool place in a very scenic part of the world.

Unfortunately the Main Event was a non-event. I just couldn’t get any traction. I started off really well but then I lost a big pot with pocket queens against pocket fours that flopped a set.
I lost the minimum but it was still a lot of chips and I never recovered from there. I ended up busting out just before the end of day one, which was a bit frustrating.

Sometimes it’s incredibly hard to make something happen. You want to take an aggressive stance and then find an opportunity to get some chips, but 9-4 is not an opportunity to get some chips! I think I shipped it with Q-10 of clubs and continuing the tone of the day, the guy woke up with AQ, so I busted!

***

After returning home, I had a week before my first Shooting Star Invitational Poker Challenge at Crown Melbourne to raise funds for Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect). I’d been organising the event for six months and the effort was worth it as it proved to be a really great event.

I was very happy with the format, the participation and people’s generosity, which was beyond my expectations. We raised more than $150,000 for Aspect (I’m pictured above with Aspect CEO Adrian Ford).

Most people don’t know that I have a cousin with autism. His father was my uncle, my mentor and my best friend. He passed away a few years ago, so it felt good to be able to give back to something that was close to his heart as well. Hopefully we’ll be able to make this an annual event.

I’m now home for a little while. I’ll probably play the ANZPT event at Crown this week but mainly just chill out with the family and catching up on life before I head off to Vegas to the WPT Five Diamond in December.

I’ve missed this event the last couple of years so I’m looking forward to going back to play. When you’ve won a particular event you can’t help but feel good about going back to play that event every year.

After that it’s the Aussie Millions, so very exciting times ahead. The Aussie Millions has pushed back the schedule a little for 2013 but it really doesn’t bother me any more because I’m not travelling to the Bahamas every January now.

I think it opens it up to give people a chance to come to the Aussie Millions, as it doesn’t clash with anything else that’s going on. It should be a great series as usual – Melbourne will turn on some beautiful weather and we’ll look after our guests like we do every year.

***

We’re about to go into production for my educational poker videos, which we hope to launch during the Aussie Millions. I’m very excited about this project.

What we’re doing no-one else has done and I hope to touch a lot of poker players and poker fans who want to play without the practical BS that goes along with some poker play these days.

I want to bring back some of the enjoyment that has been missing in the game for a while. I think the game has gotten a bit sad at the moment actually.

I recently read a good article by Donnie Peters of PokerNews and it reflects what I’ve been feeling for the past few years. Poker has become so analytical that people aren’t enjoying themselves playing any more.

You may as well sit at the table with a motorbike helmet on and play – no-one talks, no-one has fun and no-one has a chat. How do we expect to attract new players to the game when we can’t portray it as fun any more?

It’s all about hand ranges, VPIPs and all that BS – that’s all fine but we need to remember that poker is a social game, it’s a game for the public, and if we don’t have a constant flow of people of coming into the game the game will die.

I don’t think people are enjoying poker as much as they used to. So I hope that it changes again and goes back to being more fun and part of my strategy with my educational videos is to make it more fun. It’s not just to talk about the straight track and strategies of poker.

We’re also about to launch our merchandise range as mentioned in my last blog, we’re just waiting on a couple of very small technical things and we’ll be good to go. We also hope to have some more exciting news for poker in Australia which will definitely be announced before the end of the year, so exciting times ahead, watch this space!

Until next time, Pass the Sugar

Joe Hachem




I arrived in Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker much later than previous years. I played eight events without much success. I bubbled a couple of events including the 10k Six-handed but never really had any traction in any of the tournaments. It was probably my worst WSOP tournament-wise since 2005.


This was very disappointing as I was really well rested, my state of mind was right, I didn’t have a huge entourage but nothing went right. I guess you can chalk it up to poker variance.

I did well in the cash games so that kept me on even keel. The WSOP was amazing again as always, I love being there, but I would have loved to come home with some success but I didn’t get a sniff to be honest.

I’m hoping to make amends at the WSOP Europe. I’m really, excited about that because I haven’t played WSOPE for several years due to a clash with EPT London to which I was committed. Cannes is absolutely wonderful and I’m looking forward to going back there – hopefully I can make up for my bad form at the WSOP.

On the way home from the WSOP, I hosted a charity event for children with autism at the Grand Havana room in Beverly Hills. The line-up featured Jason Alexander, Don Cheadle, Aisha Tyler, Danny Masterson and Jaime Kennedy.

Apl.de.ap of The Black Eyed Peas was also in attendance to show his support. It was a really successful event. I find LA to be a great place to unwind after the World Series before I headed home …

***

… for just 10 hours before I was back on a plane for APT Macau. I played two events – the HKD $1m high stakes event and the Main Event. Again I bubbled both tournaments!

I can’t recall making any mistakes. My bust out hand in the Main Event was interesting. We were about 10 away from the money and I was in the BB with about 60k in chips (about 30 BB). It was the second hand of day three.

I looked down to find A-K and an early position player raised. He had raised the hand before. It came back to me and I saw the K and thought I’m just going to ship it all here.

I had the sense that he was going to call me with A-Q, A-J, even A-10. And if he has a pair, I’ll be flipping. He snapped called with A-J and he had me barely covered. The flop came J-J-2!

So I ended up bubbling that event. I felt I played great, but again, I played a pretty sick cash game while I was there and did reasonably well on that, so no complaints. You can’t go broke making a profit!

***

Macau has really evolved since I first travelled there five years ago. It’s a much more welcoming destination for visitors, finding someone who speaks English isn’t so hard any more and the quality of food is improving. They’re also now building resorts that are more family-friendly.

On the poker side of things, a law was recently passed in Macau that has made it more attractive for casinos to offer poker so I think we’re going to see a many more poker rooms in Macau. Poker is going strong. We stayed at StarWorld and their poker room was full the whole time.

The only games you see are really small or really big. So there are 5/10HKD or 25/50HKD or you’re playing 2000/5000HKD, there are no 200/400 or middle range games. There are mainly Hold’em and usually one small game of Omaha, which was interesting to find.

I think the poker depth is growing and the Chinese have really caught up quickly with many playing good solid games. You still get the whales that splash around money but generally the games aren’t as easy as they were a few years ago.

In more exciting news from Macau, I’ll be playing in a Super High Roller event on August 31. The Macau High Stakes Challenge has a staggering HKD $2,000,000 (AUD $250,000) buy-in with an optional HKD $2,000,000 rebuy. They’re expecting about 40-50 players so hopefully I can come home with the sugar from that one.

***

We’ve also just closed a deal through my AsianLogic partnership regarding something in Australia, which we’ll announce in the next few weeks. It’s really exciting for me. The relationship with AsianLogic is going amazingly well, it’s great to be treated as a partner and not just as a dancing monkey or as an employee.

For a tour that offers tournaments without any real online backing, they do really well. I think a lot of the credit is due to the service they provide. They give people a great experience. They provide quality service, a good environment in which to play and you see people come from all over the world to play because of the APT brand.

The brand has become really strong, I didn’t realise how strong it was. Jeff Mann is doing a great job running it. I’m actually excited at the prospect of sooner rather than later that we have an APT in Australia, which I’m pushing towards.

***

I’m about to launch the new eCommerce section on my website JoeHachem.com. This will include a range of merchandise including Pass The Sugar T-shirts and caps, copies of my book Pass the Sugar, and similar items. Eventually there will be Joe Hachem chip sets and cards and a range of other poker items.

I’m also about to start production of an educational poker series that hopefully will launch at the Aussie Millions 2013 at Crown, which is really exciting. It’s never been done like this before, I’m hoping people will love it.

It’s aimed at the beginner to intermediate players to try to give them a little bit sharper teeth and help them become better players. We’re just in the early stages of production with shooting scheduled in October for release in January. I’ll tell more about this as we progress.


Until next time, Pass the Sugar

Joe Hachem



APT Philippines was my first official outing as an APT ambassador with AsianLogic. And I must say I was impressed by the professionalism of everyone involved. They ran a really good show under the direction of Jeff Mann, who runs a tight ship. Everything ran smoothly and on time.

The tournament was held at Resorts World Manila and most of the players stayed at Maxims Hotel, which is part of the resort. I didn’t actually leave the hotel for the whole stay. It had a swimming pool and gymnasium, rooms were good and the food was surprisingly good too.

APT has built up a loyal fan base thanks to the quality of the experience provided. They enjoy playing APT events as they are treated with respect.

APT feels a lot like family to me. As everyone knows every chance I get I talk about family, so I’m really happy to be part of this family. We’ve spoke about establishing an APT event in Australia which I’m going to push really hard as I’d love to have one here. Hopefully this can come to fruition; sooner than later.

***

The first event I played was the Manila Millions, which at a buy-in of HKD $1 million was the biggest buy-in tournament ever played in Asia. It was a hyper-turbo event but there was plenty of value as one of the big gaming companies brought along 18 of their whales to fill up the seats. They happily put up the HKD $1m to play. And they loved it!

The tournament drew a field of 31 players and the whole event was done in about 10 hours. I couldn’t manufacture anything though. It was one of those tournaments where if you aren’t able to accumulate chips at some point you couldn’t afford to lose a big pot because it meant that you’d be short stacked. I didn’t lose a big pot, just lost a few smaller ones and never got off the ground.

Allan Le (Nam Le’s brother) went on to win and he pocketed USD $1.6 million – not bad for 10 hours’ work! Value-wise, it’s obviously a lot of money but still it was a great tournament. The Chinese guys were so excited about the event that they’re planning another one very soon in Macau, which will probably have an even bigger field. HKD $1 million is like pocket money for these guys!

Not surprisingly, the cash games were also very juicy. We got some PLO going and played some astronomical stakes – the equivalent of USD $250/500/1000 so I had my best poker face on! I hadn’t really played these sort of stakes but I took a shot at that level as a couple of guys from Hong Kong and China were just happy to play and enjoy the game. I turned a nice little profit so that was a pretty good game!

Next up was the Main Event, which was a repechage (if you busted on day 1A you could buy back in day 1B). I got off to a really good start but just got into horrible situations where I just couldn’t get traction after the first couple of levels and found myself exiting the tournament right after the dinner break – both times I finished just before the end of the day which frustrated me a little bit, but that’s poker.

Before I left, I had the opportunity to check out the AsianLogic offices, which was great. It was good to see the operation and how big these guys are, how serious they are, which is always reassuring.

***

I’m incredibly excited about the news that the WSOP is coming to Crown! The guys at Crown and from Harrahs/WSOP have been working on this deal for about two years – a lot of us knew it was coming but the tail end of the paperwork took longer than expected. When it was finally announced it was such a relief.

To have a WSOP in my hometown, here at Crown is great news. It means we’re going to have two international events in Melbourne, which I’m really excited about with my links to both Crown and the WSOP. I can’t wait! It also means one less trip OS for me at that time of year. It’s scheduled for early April in 2013 at this stage so it should be a lot of fun.

People have already got a good feeling about coming to Crown so to come for a second time each year should be easy. And it will attract a lot of players who haven’t ventured down here yet because of the World Series brand, so overall it’s a plus-plus for everyone.
I think it’ll compliment the Aussie Millions.

I think both will grow because it will firstly attract a lot of players that haven’t come to Australia yet, where they’ll experience Australia and they’ll be more likely to come back for the Aussie Millions, and the guys that regularly come for the Aussie Millions will have another reason to come back for the WSOP event.

It should also attract more players from Asia (which is part of the strategy). Obviously there are more Asians playing now and they’ll now have somewhere close to visit to compete for a WSOP bracelet. We need more high profile events here and we can’t get more high profile than WSOP, so looking forward to it!

***

I have something I want to discuss is something very close to my heart. I’ve been harping on about this for several years and no-one wanted to listen. In recent weeks, both Alec Torrelli and Mike Sexton have written blogs talking about the lack of professionalism in poker. And this is something I’ve been talking about for a long time. I so strongly agree with these guys.

Poker players want the world to come to them yet they’re not prepared to do the right thing to become professional. It’s as simple as actually showing up to the poker table showered, shaved, with a clean shirt – how about we start with that! Showing up to a final table not looking like you’ve just rolled out of bed! How do you people want corporate sponsors to look at us seriously if we don’t even take ourselves seriously? It really gets up my nose.

Poker players are so selfish – they never think about the bigger picture – what can I do to help poker grow? NOT what can I do to load my pockets - what’s my edge, what’s my EV, what’s my margin – instead of what can I do to help my profession to become a better profession to be more widely accepted. It doesn’t have to cost me any money, may cost me a little bit of effort, but it can mean more corporates will want to be involved which will mean more money into the pool for everybody and more recognition.

But instead they show up to final tables in shorts, scruffy T-shirts with hair all over the place, they want to wear hoodies and sunglasses at the final table and stuff like that – c’mon guys!

People want to interview them and they can’t even bother to speak, fans stop them for an autograph or to say hi and they think they’re top shit, they make no time for their fans.

Don’t be selfish – let’s all try to think about what’s the best move for the profession, not what the best move for me is personally. Reading those two blogs really ignited my passion again for that fight because I genuinely believe, until we have enough poker players with the same mindset poker will always be stuck in the back room. It really hurts me to think that because I love the game so much.

***

As I write this blog the Joe Hachem Deep Stack is about to reach its conclusion as the opening event of the Melbourne Champs at Crown. Any time we have any sort of championship at Crown it’s always great, the players can get their teeth stuck into something.

Players fly in from around the country because they know the quality of the field is going to be good and there’s going to be value for them to play. So I look forward to seeing everybody down at Crown over the next week or so and hopefully we meet at a final table!

Until next time, Pass the Sugar.

JH






I’ve just finished the first trip of mine as part of my new ‘marriage’ under contract with AsianLogic and the APT. The main reason for the trip was to play WPT events the LA Poker Classic and the Bay 101 Shooting Star. They’re great events with which I’m very familiar and they coincided with a series of meetings with my agency who are working on a TV show idea that we’re trying to make a reality.

First things first – I stayed in Commerce for the LAPC. I got off to a terrible start where I was down 6k after about 20 minutes after starting with 30k but managed to finish with just over 85k. I ran like God – aces and kings, aces and kings all day. It was just one of those days that we all pray for.

Day 2, 3 and 4 weren’t all that eventful with not too many big hands, so I was quite happy to get through to the money. Then by the start of day 5 I was in the top 18 playing down to a final table of six. This was when I started to smell another WPT final table.
It was initially pretty quiet and then suddenly we we’re down to 12 players.

I had a massive double up to 1.3m and at that point I was thinking I’m going to make the final table. Then we had something like 10 all-ins survive in two hours so all the short stacks doubled up. The average stack got to 25 BB, I was left with about 15 BB (700k) with blinds at 20k/40k.

My bust out hand came when I woke up with pocket eights on the button and decided to ship it but the BB had pocket nines and busted me in 12th. I was disappointed but I was happy, I thought I played well the whole time. I don’t remember making any mistakes (although I’m sure I made some). One of the things that stands out in my mind about this tournament was some incredible reads I made, one of which I’d like to discuss in particular.

On day 2 a guy in middle position, who was a good solid player, opened in the cut-off, the guy in the SB 3 bets and I look down at A-K. I’m either shoving or folding here with my stack, nothing else. I’m almost certain I’m shoving in this spot because I’m pretty sure the guy in the SB is playing back at the guy in the cut-off. I’m sure I’ve got this guy dominated – at the very worst I’d be flipping against JJ or QQ.

I think about it for a moment and then I look up at the guy in the cut-off and see the vein in his neck throbbing so hard it was about to explode. I could almost feel it thumping, obviously elated at the prospect of me getting involved with this hand. Right at that point the penny dropped and I thought to myself OMG he’s just waiting for me to make a move because he’s got a monster, so I just fold my hand. At that point it was an easy decision to make.

It gets back to the guy in the cut-off and he four-bets, prompting the guy in the SB to open much his jacks. After a little hesitation the guy in the cut-off shows his kings, so I was pretty pumped! I tweeted about it, being the genius I am!  However, when I came back after the break I see that the same guy is now wearing a hoodie zipped up all the way to his chin and a pair of dark sunglasses.

I look at the guy and ask what’s the story? He said, “I started following your tweets today!” So, the tweeting ended up biting me on the arse! I showed off a bit too much. The one thing I’ve always said is you’ve got to trust your reads, trust your gut, and your instincts and I felt I did that really well this trip.

***


Onto Bay 101 in San Jose, CA – located in a quiet little town in CA, which hosts one of the best tournaments on the circuit. It’s known as the Shooting Star tournament because there’s one celebrity poker player with a $5k bounty at each table, which makes it a bit more fun. On my table there were three bounties – Gavin Smith, Christian Harder and myself.

The structure of the Bay 101 is 60-minute levels on day 1, 90-minute levels on day 2 and 120-minute levels (six-handed) on day 3, which is great as you lose a few more players than you normally do in a WPT event like the LAPC like where it’s 90 minutes from the start.

So I’m playing a relatively solid game, trying not to get involved with too many pots as usual, which is the way I like to start off all my tournaments. A young guy playing to the right of Christian Harder had been opening a lot and this time he opened under the gun, I three-bet him, it gets folded around again and he calls. I have him covered by about 2.5k, I’ve got about 30k and he’s got about 27k. I have Ac-Qc, and the board comes Q-3-5 with two diamonds and he checks to me. I bet about 1800 and he check-raises to about 5600, leaving himself about 19k behind.

I thought for while about how I wanted to play it here, whether I just ship it and either take the pot down or get him to stick it in with a worse hand. I felt I was pretty strong and I was pretty sure that I had the best hand. So I decide to ship it and he insta-calls with Ad-2d. Blank, diamond on the river and he cripples me. So I’m down to 2500 in chips.

Now, I buckle up – the blinds are still 100/200 and I’ve got 10 BB so rather than panicking I decide to hold my ground and see if I can make a comeback. I fortunately get it all-in UTG in a three-way pot with Qh-10h, make a flush and triple up.

A few hands later, I was in the cut off, and at our table are four “players” and five “locals” – the locals are the reason you play these tournaments – they generally play weak, passive poker and are calling stations. You pick up a hand and you’re away, that’s why I wasn’t too worried of being so short.

The blinds are 150/300 at this stage with a 25 ante, I raise in the cut-off for 800, with Kh-9h and I’ve got about 6500. It folds around to the BB who is a local player, an older guy who has been calling everything. The board comes Q-J-10 which makes me the second nuts. He bets 1600 into me and I know I have the best hand putting him on a weak Q such as Q-9, something like that.

I decide that I’m not going to shove it all-in – against a good player I would shove to show false strength and hopefully prompt them to call, but here I min-raise to 3300 trying to entice the local player to put more chips into the pot because it’s so cheap. He thought about it and thought about it, I sat there very professionally for about 2-3 minutes, but then I couldn’t help myself.

“Just letting you know it’s about 1700 more to play and I’ve got 2000 behind, just letting you know, and by the way there’s a $5k bounty on my head,” I said. So he says, “yeah I know, I know, so what the heck, I’ll call for the thrill of it”. Repeat J on the turn. He looks at me and says, “I guess you’ve got a bigger Q than me, but what the hell, I put you all-in.” I forgot to mention that the repeat J was a spade, which made two spades on the board. He turns over Qs-7s. You know when you get that horrible aching feeling in your gut that disaster is going to hit, I just knew that was going to happen here!

I didn’t know how ugly it was going to be though as the third J peeled off on the river so he makes a boat with his Q! On the outside I was controlled but I wasn’t too happy on the inside! I go to walk away and they ask me whether I can sign a T-shirt, so I do. Then they ask me again to come back as the man wants to have a photo taken! I say all right, I’ll take the photo. It actually took the edge off the situation. That was my Bay 101! I spent one more night there and the next day went back to LA for a couple of days.

***

Regarding my latest TV project, I still can’t say too much about it but at this stage I’m happy to say my management is working with a production company and they’re shopping it around. It’s cool content, and in case you were wondering, it’s not poker but related!

We’re hooked in with an established production company that already has the relationships and are best placed to offer it to the networks. We’ve recorded some footage, a clip of me pitching the idea, so when they talk to the studio execs who don’t have much patience, they get a taste of what the show’s about. It’s a really exciting opportunity so hopefully it comes to fruition. Fingers crossed, stay tuned, I can’t say too much more than that.

So that was my trip, it was really good. It’s funny that when I get to LA I’m very comfortable, it’s like my second home, but after about two weeks I get home sick. It was good to have Tony along, he always finds a way to send me on tilt and make me laugh about it. And then it was pretty cool to have Jeanie and Jessica come over for about a week too.

Until next time, Pass the Sugar

Joe Hachem




After quite a bit of reflection about my bust out hand in this year’s Aussie Millions Main Event, I decided to discuss it with several players who I respect.

This was a big step for me – in the past, I’d be reluctant to discuss such matters but over the past 6-12 months I’ve been utilising friends that I’ve made along the way to try to help me how I may improve something or look at things in a different way. You can’t underestimate the power of your peers and how much insight you can get into a situation.

Let me dissect the hand for you – we’re in the second last level of the day and the blinds are 300/600 with an ante of 75. I’m in the SB with about 31k. I’d been down to 12k. An important aspect to note was that my table was quite soft.

With about 20 minutes left in the level, the guy in the hijack limped in for 600, which I found really strange (he’d limped into several pots). I decided to squeeze out of the SB with Kc-7d for 2600. The BB folded. The first limper called and the button folded as I thought he might.

The flop came 6-8-8 with two clubs – this is where it gets interesting. As I reach for my chips he checks out of turn. The dealer says you can’t act so it comes to me. I was thinking, “now what are you worried about, I had gained more confidence from his action”, so I bet about 5k. I’ve still got about 23k.

So, now he wants to min-raise! This completely baffled me. How could he go from checking to min-raising? I didn’t think at any point that he was making a play.

So, the rule in Australia is where you can either call or fold, so he called. The turn comes a K. I insta-check and he insta moves all-in! So I tank for about five minutes and in the heat of the moment I couldn’t find the fold. I couldn’t work it out. Eventually I decided that he was making a play for a flush draw, there’s no way he could have an 8. He had Ad-8d and I was bust!

Now comes the reflection, and this is where as poker players we learn the most about ourselves; about how we can improve our play and, if this situation comes along in the future, how to deal with it.

The first five players I spoke to all said they wouldn’t fold. Then I was playing the $2500 NLHE Six-Max event with Faraz Jaka, who suggested the player didn’t check out of turn – he actually thought he was first to act and was going for a check-raise.

I didn’t even consider that angle. That made sense – why you would check then min-raise. Maybe he was checking to raise, maybe he was slow playing but it’s something I didn’t think in the moment – he may just have thought he was first to act. That would have made sense why he checked. So if I factor that into my thought process at the time, it’s an easy fold.

But there was another crucial aspect to this situation, relating to the weakness of the players at the table. Why did I over analyse and make the call instead of letting him have the pot? I’ve still got 23k left, it’s plenty of chips, I’ve got 40bb, it’s a really easy table, I can keep playing and accumulate chips.

Most of the time I’d be able to get away from it. I wasn’t sure what happened. And when I asked him why he moved all-in he said he thought I had A-K! This shows the level that he was thinking on – what was he worried about? I had out-thought myself.

The lesson from this situation is that if you’re playing an ABC player, play ABC. But if it’s a tricky player who is creative and has moves then think on a different level. Don’t try to out-think yourself. Maybe take a little more time to look at every angle as to why this situation has happened. These things happen from time-to-time and they can often cost us our tournament lives. So I don’t usually put this much time into a bust out hand but I thought the situation warranted some more thought.


Until next time, Pass the Sugar

Joe Hachem


By Joe Hachem

Welcome to what, I promise, will be the first of my regular blogs for 2012!
I’m really excited to be partnering with AsianLogic and the Asian Poker Tour (APT), which we announced at the Aussie Millions last week. It’s going to be a great year as we roll out our plans step by step.

I love helping poker grow in popularity and this partnership is going to be a great opportunity to do that in Australia and Asia. I want to try to make poker more acceptable in the mainstream.

AsianLogic are industry leaders – they’re well respected and with their connections and experience in land-based and online gaming, we have plans to launch several projects over the next 12 months in both Australia and Asia.

In a time where players are scrounging for sponsorship, I was offered two great deals and I was able to choose which one I wanted. I had a great time with PokerStars, there are no complaints, but it was time to move on and I couldn’t have made a better decision.

It was really opportune to make the announcement on the morning of the High Roller event and the start of the Aussie Millions. I played great (and ran better!) to be near the chip leader at the end of day one. I was exhausted by the end of the day but the adrenaline keeps you going.

At the start of day two, I was second in chips just behind Gus Hansen but everything just went downhill from the start. I don’t think I won a pot for the first three and a half hours. I then found myself on the bubble five-handed as the short stack. This is where my patience and discipline really kicked in because I could have easily lost the plot.

Once the blinds were 5000/10,000 and I had 71k, what helped me was that play was pot limit pre-flop. Because there wasn’t an ante it’s a lot easier to not commit your whole stack and it’s a lot harder for your competitors to call because there’s not that much dead money in the pot.

I was waiting, biding my time until I picked up a hand or waited for one of the guys to have a brain explosion which is exactly what happened when Gus Hansen decided to bet a heap with A-J and he walked into the Russian Mikhail Smirnov’s pocket 10s.

If I’d bubbled I wouldn’t have forgiven myself for a long time – I reckon I would not have even played the Aussie Millions Main Event. So at the time I was very happy to have reached the final four and still in the hunt for the title.

Tony G busted out and suddenly there are three left. I’m still short stack of the three, about half that of Dan Smith in second, but after one double up we were almost even. With the blinds at 8000/16,000 I opened up from the button with Ac-9c for 45,000 or so and Smith he made it 120,000.

I felt A-9 was good enough at that point to shove. He snap called with As-10s so he had me dominated. The flop came J-9-7 with one spade, the turn was the 7s and the river 3s to make his flush. My chance of winning was over.

The sick thing was that I had a really strong read on Smirnov and Tony G but I hadn’t had a chance to use them. If I had have won that pot against Dan he would have been crippled to about 30k which means he would have been all-in soon after. I would have had a great shot.

Overall, I’m really happy and content with my result and hopefully the form continues through the rest of the Aussie Millions.

It would be remiss of me not to mention that I wanted my son Anthony to play his first Aussie Millions Main Event as part of his 21st birthday present. He made it through to day two (better than his old man). He may need his own section on the website!





It’s always intrigued me as to why prizemoney tallies are quoted so extensively in the poker media (and I’m just as guilty as anyone). For the most part, they’re complete bollocks. Indeed, the higher the prize, the more inaccurate it’s likely to be.

There are two main reasons – in the vast majority of big buy-in tournaments (it would have to be in the order of 70-80 per cent), players make a deal. Generally this will mean the winner takes home less than the quoted first prize, and other players more than officially listed.

Secondly, players sell shares, or may have backers who expect a slice of the pie. Again, the bigger the buy-in, the more likely that a player has sold off a few points to friends or backers.

All of which makes the story of the new WSOP Main Event champion Pius Heinz all the more incredible. According to my sums, Heinz has just pocketed the largest poker tournament prize in history in terms of his actual net payout.

According to accountant Russ Fox, Heinz benefits from the US-Germany Tax Treaty. Under that Treaty, gambling income earned in the US is exempt from US taxation. “Without a tax treaty, he’d lose 30 per cent of his winnings to the IRS. Next, Germany considers gambling to be a use of after-tax (earned) money so for gamblers it’s tax-free. Thus, Mr Heinz gets to keep all USD $8,715,638 of his winnings,” Fox said.

A few calls and emails also revealed that Heinz has sold off a maximum of 30 per cent of his action, reducing his windfall to USD $6,100,946.60, but still fairly tasty. And to the best of our knowledge, there was no deal made at any point of the WSOP Main Event final table, leaving Heinz with arguably the greatest payday in poker history.

In the modern era of massive WSOP Main Event payouts dating back to Greg Raymer in 2004, Heinz is the first to completely escape the grasp of the taxman. Even our own WSOP champion Joe Hachem forfeited 30 per cent of his USD $7.5 million to the IRS. The USA has no greater friend in the world than Australia, but that friendship isn’t worth a lousy tax treaty it would seem.

To put Heinz’s good fortune in perspective, let’s look at the case of third-place finisher Ben Lamb. His official payout of USD $4,021,038 was immediately slashed by more than USD $1.5 million to the IRS, and a further $240,268 to the Oklahoma State Tax Commission. That means Lamb has forked out 43.9 per cent of his winnings, before paying any of the players who had shares in him for the Main Event. In the words of Austin Powers, “Ouch, baby. Very ouch.”

The case of Irishman Eoghan O’Dea and his prize of USD $1,720,831 is also intriguing. Russ Fox told us that gambling income for Irish citizens is also exempt from US taxation. However, gambling income in Ireland is taxable for professionals (there is no tax for amateurs). O’Dea, a professional gambler, is subject to a tax rate of 20 per cent on his first €36,400; the tax rate is 41 per cent thereafter so he will owe $695,018 to the Office of Revenue Commissioners (40 per cent).

So of the USD $28,279,219 awarded at the 2011 WSOP Main Event final table, the take for the taxman is USD $5,438,038 or 18.91 per cent. That’s more than half of the 42.99 per cent paid in taxes among the nine players at last year’s final table. Or to put it into perspective, the taxman actually finished second to Heinz in this year’s WSOP Main Event, based on payouts.

In one form or another, the house always wins.



Trivia answer: Grant Levy. Trivia question: Who featured on the cover of the final edition of PokerNews Australasia & Pacific (left)?

Welcome to pokermedia.com.au. The story of how and why this website exists is worth sharing, so here goes. As many of you will be aware, our core business over the past six years has been magazines – namely Bluff Australasia, which merged to become part of PokerNews Australasia & Pacific in 2009.

But our world changed on April 15 when the US Government pulled the pin on major online operators PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and UltimateBet/Absolute Poker. It took a few weeks for the impact to filter Down Under, but we were informed three months ago that PokerNews wished to discontinue the magazine due to the increased scrutiny on the promotion of online poker sites that, to the letter of the law, operate here illegally.

As we never had the chance to publish a “final” edition, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who worked on the magazine – from founding editor Kirsty Mullins who undertook the massive task of creating a new magazine from scratch to her successor Ben Blaschke, and all the advertisers and contributors. It was a great magazine, and I miss it dearly. We hope to soon have a new magazine in the market.

We weren’t the only ones impacted by the change in the legislative landscape. Our good mate Alfred Markarian ceased publication of Australian Poker Weekly, while the original home of Aussie poker news, PokerNetwork, has sat virtually untouched for several months. The efforts of PNW’s Heath Chick to maintain the history and records that lie within the PokerNetwork archives were hugely underappreciated. I sincerely hope they’re not lost forever.

Pokermedia.com.au represents our first foray into the brave new world of poker in Australia. Our initial aims are modest – to provide a new and fresh source of news, commentary and analysis relating to Aussie poker.

Having worked closely with two of the world’s biggest poker media brands – Bluff and PokerNews – in the past, we’re looking forward to resetting the boundaries of poker journalism under our own banner. Your support, feedback and contributions will play a major role in the success of the site. Enjoy www.pokermedia.com.au!