JOE HACHEM: California dreamin’

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

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