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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

World Champ a Forgotten Man

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As a dealer at Bellagio in Las Vegas, I have the opportunity to hear all sorts of interesting comments and opinions about poker and poker related issues. One of the more unusual topics lately has been about the World Series of Poker (WSOP) champion from this year. Or, more specifically, who is he? I was absolutely amazed to hear over and over again that no one seemed to know his name. Do You? Here, I will give you a hint. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi. Does this ring a bell? His name is Joseph Hachem from Australia. It looks to me like he will be the forgotten man in poker, but why? After all, he did just beat the largest field in poker history, and take home a not-to-shabby 7.5 million dollar paycheck. However, while Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer are household names, no one seems to know who Joseph Hachem is.

In 2003, the poker world was prime for the biggest explosion in sports history. With the advent of hole card cameras, and Internet poker getting larger by the day, all we needed was a world champ to usher us through the gate. Enter Chris Moneymaker with his carefree attitude and willingness to gamble; the stage was all set. He had a great story of turning a $40 Internet satellite into a $2,500,000 payday. Fighting his way through a field of 839 other players, ESPN caught him on film eliminating poker giants such as Johnny Chan, Humberto Brennes, Phil Ivey, Dan Harrington, and Sam Farha. With complete fearlessness, Moneymaker often times bluffed his way to the title. One of the more memorable hands between Moneymaker and Farha, Moneymaker moved all-in on the River holding nothing but King high. Farha eventually folded his top pair in a hand that ESPN dubbed “the bluff of the century.” Believe it or not, I actually dealt that hand. But nothing he did could over state the importance of his name…“Moneymaker”. After all, we all play poker tournaments trying to make the big score that comes with victory. Who better to show us the way than a “Moneymaker”?

Fast forward one year to 2004. With the poker boom well under way, many experts believed that the WSOP main event would reach 2,000 players. They were not even close. A record number of 2,576 people put up $10,000 apiece for a shot at the $5,000,000 first place prize. The victor would be Greg Raymer. Relentless with his pre flop raises and his terrifying stare down with reptilian sunglasses, Raymer would find his way into more big pots than anyone in history. Constantly bucking the odds, most of Raymer’s chips were continuously in the pot, in nothing more than a race situation (two hands that are so close, you might as well just flip a coin to determine the winner). Winning one coin flip after another, Raymer would knock out loud mouths Mike Matusow and Josh Arieh along the way to being crowned world champion.

So here we are in 2005, and we once again looked to our poker experts to predict the size of the field at the main event. Yet again, they weren’t even close. With most saying the field would reach 6,600 players, a “disappointing” field of 5,619 would battle for 10 days and the lions share of a $56,000,000 prize pool? The victor would be Joseph Hachem. The most distinguishing feature about Hachem is...well, there really isn't one. He isn't the gambler that Moneymaker is, nor does he seem to always be in a race the way Raymer won. He tended to play only the good hands, and they seemed to hold up just about every time. Hachem never seemed to put a bad beat on anyone, nor did he suffer any himself. In fact, if it were not for his friends showing their patriotic pride to Australia, he never would have stood out at all. While I have never met him personally, Hachem seems like a great guy to be around, just not one that makes for good TV. It’s really a shame too. He appears to be the best “world champion” we have had for a few years.

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