Pictured: Joe Hachem and Paul Khoury at Paul’s wedding in 2014
We were lucky enough to catch up with our old mate Paul Khoury who is back in the poker spotlight. This year he’s working with Crown Melbourne across their Aussie Millions campaign. Over a refreshing Frangelico, we discussed his role, who he’ll be working with and what’s been going on in his world.
PMA: G’day mate, it’s great to catch up with you again, it’s been a long time! For those out there who may not know of your significant poker cred, give us a short rundown of what you’ve done in poker over the years?
PK: G’day mate – great to catch up.
OK – I have to think back some (laughing) – I started in poker commentary a decade ago with the Crown Australian Celebrity Poker Challenge, then with Poker News as a reporter. The gang there let me do my own thing so a lot of the segments we produced were a lot of fun. It was a lot like being on the road with the players. You got to share a lot of highs and of course some lows.
I then landed an audition with 441 Productions (World Series of Poker production team) as a potential host for the APPT (Asia Pacific Poker Tour). My good friend Tom was working with me and came along for support and it turned out he was a rabbit’s foot because I got the job. I was then was told that Daniel Negreanu would be my co-host! I recorded two seasons with Daniel and the 441 team. I got to work in Las Vegas and New York…dream come true stuff.
I have also been doing live webcasting for some time now, the APPT and Guang Dong Millions in Macau to name a few.
Then came the Australian Poker Hero. After that came the Aussie Millions then back to Macau (laughs). I am very pleased to say that this year will be my third Aussie Millions.
I feel very lucky.
PMA: Wow! You must be one of the most highly sort after poker media personalities in the world. We’re not surprised that you’re working with Crown on their productions again. So tell us, what are you doing with the Aussie Millions this year?
PK: I am happiest when I am working so as long as I get to cover more tournaments.
The Aussie Millions is in my hometown of Melbourne and where most Aussie poker heads want to be. I get to play a big part each year. This year I am working with Joe Hachem on the Aussie Millions TV series. I have interviewed him many times and always enjoy a good banter with him. It should be fun.
PMA: You mention that you’ll be working with Aussie poker great Joe Hachem again. How’s Joe involved this year and what’s he like to work with?
PK: We are friends and that always make the job more enjoyable. I owe him a cigar though, so I had better not forget that.
Joe will be in the expert seat, of course (laughing)! I have always watched Joe in tournaments over the years and he is lovely guy, and his family are fantastic. He is a great family man. It’s the quality I admire most about him.
Joe loves the game as much as anyone I have known and I am sure it’s one of the qualities that made him so successful. We both grew up playing in the Crown poker room, so for me to be sitting next to him in our hometown at the Aussie Millions is very rewarding.
Joe also protects the integrity of the game and is very passionate. I appreciate that quality very much.
PMA: What’s Joe like away from the table?
PK: Like I mentioned, he’s a great dad and husband. When you peel back a layer or two you can see Joe come to life. His persona at the table represents Joe the fighter but away from the table he is a gracious host, caring and is most at ease when surrounded by his loved ones.
I feel fortunate to know the whole family and call them all my dear friends.
But that won’t get me out of that cigar I owe him…
PMA: Who else do you come in close contact with? Do you speak with any of the high-profile international players? Who’s your favourite? Without trying to get you in trouble, who’s tough work?
PK: I still have contact with Daniel (Negreanu) from time to time. It’s always nice to catch up with him. Scotty Nguyen is a laugh and I miss him. Unfortunately I don’t see him as much but when I do it’s always warm. He’s got great stories.
Billy ‘the Croc’ (Argyros) is one of my favourites too. He’s always a giggle but that man has been in the game as long as I have been alive, he has told me some stories that I will never forget…or mention here by the way (laughs).
When Tony Hachem and I are in the same room there is always laughter… I love that guy.
Who’s tough work? No comment (laughing). One day I will write a book and when I do it will be worth a read. Perhaps you guys can publish it for me?!
PMA: Sure thing, I look forward to that!
What are you looking forward to most during this year’s event?
PK: The Crown opening party is always fun, it’s like a once a year reunion. I am also playing one or two events, so I am looking forward to that.
Of course I look forward to seeing which player’s turn it is to be champion. Hopefully it’s someone who really needs it, or deserves it. A hometown hero would be nice.
PMA: Crown continues to lead the region with their tournament poker offerings. Do you think it’s been a good thing for poker in Australia to be involved with the APPT?
PK: Absolutely. The marriage of APPT and Aussie Millions is a masterstroke. The APPT has been around almost a decade now so the reputation of both brands is terrific for the region.
The Aussie Millions remains one of the biggest and best events on the planet.
PMA: What about the WSOP?
PK: The WSOP is where it all leads in the end ‘eh! It’s every players dream…and nightmare (laughs). I honestly believe every player dreams of winning one still as much as they did when it all began. Winning a WSOP event is a dream come true for any player.
PMA: What have you been doing in poker recently? Do you play often? Do you follow any of the tours or events around the world?
PK: I work in other areas of media. It helps keep me fresh for when I work in poker but I can’t always follow the recent events so I need to do a little research ahead of time.
I have a sports website called theinsidewordonline.com which is also a passion. Who doesn’t love sports?! We give advice to punters on global sports and the guys I work with are just terrific. It’s free so check it out – we hope you win all the time!
PMA: Nice, best of luck with that venture.
What do you love about poker? Has that changed over the many years you’ve been involved?
PK: I still love to play – recently Joe (Hachem) and I spoke of this. We both miss that feeling you get when the gang get together and hurl abuse, eat good food, have a beer and laugh.
I think this has somewhat become forgotten. It’s about money now.
I just miss playing for 16 hours at a time where no one knows you and you can hide. I try and sneak in sometimes but it never lasts.
PMA: Where do you see the industry moving in the next 2-3 years? How do you hope to be involved?
PK: I think the industry will be more refined. It should be stable. For a while we had too many choices. Now we have the Aussie Millions and WSOP here at Crown.
Online will continue on, however, the edge in No Limit is getting smaller every day. PLO has bumped up in recent times. More edge there I guess, more action but much bigger swings, so look out!
The APPT, WSOP and Aussie Millions are brands that will always be there and I hope I can continue to work the way I have and go where the work is.
PMA: What else has been happening in your world? Was 2014 a big year and what do you expect 2015 will bring?
PK: I got married! OK…OK I know it’s about time… to all those now making jokes (laughs)! 2015 we hope to start a family…no poker for the child until they’re at least six!
PMA: Congrats on your big news!
Many thanks from all the PMA crew for your time. We’re really glad that you’re back in the saddle and helping to keep poker entertaining. Where can we hear your work and when do you expect it to be available?
PK: Thank you guys for all your support and kind words over the years. I hope to continue to do a good job for you all. I will do my best.
This year the Aussie Millions will be on One HD and ESPN.