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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Where Are They Now - Joe Hachem

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Where are They Now is a series of an in depth look at all poker players - not just the pros - as they travel through one long game. Some of the players profiled are deceased but not forgotten.

If you paid any attention to internet poker forums around late 2004 and early 2005 you would have noticed there was a lot of talk about an online player named “Kaikey.”  This player had found some success in cash games, but in the eyes of many he wasn’t a very good player.  The only thing known about his identity was that he was from Australia.  “Kaikey” was often criticized for being a “fish,” and a “luckbox,” drawing the complaints of well known poker players around the internet.  “Kaikey” would ultimately have the last laugh when he won 7.5 million dollars, at the same time earning respect for his style of play.  Of course that online player is Joe Hachem.
Joseph Hachem was born in Lebanon on November 3, 1966.  When Hachem was just six years old his family moved to Melbourne, Australia.  As a child, and as he grew older, there is virtually no mention of any form of gambling in Hachem’s life.  Instead he focused on his education.  Hachem became a chiropractor shortly after finishing school, a career he thrived at for 13 years.  Also during this time, Hachem got married and had four children.  Just when it seemed that Hachem was settling in to his life calling, he was struck with a rare blood disorder that affected the use of his hands.  As fate would have it, while trying to take up a job as a mortgage broker, he also became interested in poker.

Hachem first started playing in local casinos in the Melbourne area, spending his time evenly learning cash games and tournament games.  Hachem’s live game seemed to mature fairly quickly, finding a decent amount of success as the new millennium started.  In the next five years Hachem placed in 11 tournaments in Australia with buy-ins between 25 dollars and 1,500 dollars.  He was able to make over 3,000 dollars twice.  While this wasn’t huge money, it was certainly making his transition from 9 to 5 worker to poker player that much easier.  Despite not winning any of these tournaments, he was quickly becoming a respected name in Australian poker.

In 2001, when PokerStars hit the World Wide Web, Hachem was one of the first names to sign up.  In his career at the website he has logged over 100,000 hands, many of those coming before his jump to the forefront of the poker world.  Hachem was able to add to his modest live winnings, by becoming a winning player in cash games online, despite the negative comments appearing on internet forums from his fellow poker peers.  Whether or not he noticed these comments is unknown, but what is known is that he continued to work on his game to get it to an elite level.

In 2005 Hachem already knew he wanted to go to the World Series of Poker to play in at least of a couple of events, but wasn’t sure which ones, or if he would even really go.  When one of his friends won a satellite to the Main Event and invited Hachem to come along with him to cheer him on during the event, Hachem accepted.

Hachem, of course ended up having a little better WSOP than his friend.  His success started when he placed 10th in the $1,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em event, winning $25,180 dollars, easily his biggest win.  Most people would be happy to leave the WSOP up 25k, especially a man with a wife and four children back home in Australia, but the call of the Main Event, with a 7.5 million dollar prize for first place, was too much.  After plopping down over a third of his winnings, Hachem had his entry into the Main Event, along with 5,618 others.
In recent history, it’s seemed that many of the winners have been front-runners, taking a big lead early, and never looking back.  This wasn’t the case with Hachem.  The story for most of this tournament was the run of 2004 champion, Greg Raymer.  Raymer was attempting to become the first back to back champion since Stu Ungar, and making it even more remarkable was the inflated fields.  However, Raymer’s run came to an end at 25th place, leaving the door open for a brand new champion.

Remaining in the field were such noticeabled as Phil Ivey, Mike “The Mouth” Matusow, and Andy Black.  One of the least likely of the bunch was somewhere in the middle of the pack with 24 to go, Joe Hachem.  Hachem continued to plug away, making his way to the final table, where Matusow and Black eagerly awaited.  Hachem entered the final table near the bottom of the pack, but was able to hold his head above water by avoiding any big confrontations, while quietly securing the blinds every few rounds.  Then there were three players remaining, Steve Dannenmann, John Barch, and Hachem.  With no reason to be nervous because the remaining players were equally inexperienced, Hachem settled down.  In fact, Dannenmann, from Virginia, has said that he wasn’t even the best player at his own home game.
Eventually Hachem found himself heads up with Dannenmann, with a slight chip lead.  With the Australian based fans yelling with delight after every hand Hachem won, it was just a matter of time before Hachem was crowned the newest champion.
Hachem won the WSOP with the worst starting hand in history, a 7-3 of spades, ironic considering the negative reviews he had received from his online counterparts.  When he flopped a straight, he only needed to avoid two cards to avoid a tie against the A-3 offsuit of Dannenmann.  Hachem avoided the tie, and after one more scream of “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oy, oy, oy!” Hachem was 7.5 million dollars richer.  Much to the delight of his fans, Hachem was also the first Australian to win the Main Event.

While Hachem ended the trend of back-to-back players taking a satellite victory from PokerStars to a World Championship, he did become a spokesman for the website.  Hachem, predictably, quit his job as a mortgage broker, because of this victory, but he has said he treats poker just like a business.  He keeps detailed records, and is always tracking his play, finding ways to become better at his new “business.”  Also, besides moving to Beverly Hills, California, Hachem has made a point of it to not squander his winnings, and instead saving for the future of his children.

Since his win, Hachem has continued to do well.  While a lot of players never come close to sniffing a million dollar victory again, Hachem won over two million at the 2006 Doyle Brunson North American Poker Classic World Poker Tour Event.  To date he has made more than 10 million dollars in tournament play.  

While he still occasionally plays online, mostly in the larger well known events, he has concentrated on live since his big win.  However, it’s fairly apparent that he has silenced the critics, as he is now regarded as one of the better poker players in the world.  He stated he originally had an anger problem, going on tilt quite often, but he says when he was able to curtail those feelings, he began to be a winning player.  It seems as long as Hachem stays his happy, chipper self, you will continue seeing him at final tables.

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