PokerStars looks to add Aussie to its posse

If the bright lights, honking cars, and hordes of people weren't enough clues, the giant sign gave it away. I was standing in Times Square. Still jet-lagged from my return from Austria, I thought I might be a bit confused, or at the very least, seeing things. I admitted to myself, the bright lights of the big city might be getting to me.

Then again, I was pretty sure of what I'd seen.

I was staying at the luxurious W Hotel, the kind of place where brushed steel and new age music are just about everywhere. Where there is no steel, there are rocks with thoughtful words like "wisdom" and "wonder" printed on them. The more I looked at them, I found myself more and more sure of what I'd just seen. It was not a wish, but it was certainly a wonder.

The scene was a PokerStars party, where New York's biggest media and poker folks were having a little fun. Single table satellites were running as hot as the room. Bad beats were crushing everyone from the writers to the pros. As I attend these events pretty regularly, I get used to seeing World Series of Poker championship bracelets. After all, everybody knows PokerStars is home to 2003 champion Chris Moneymaker and 2004 champion Greg Raymer. Just as things got rolling, though, another wrist started reflecting the room's lights.

Count'em: Three

I can count. There were three bracelets there.

The room was abuzz with familiar faces. Raymer, Moneymaker, Isabelle "No Mercy" Mercier, PokerStars Card Room Manager Lee Jones, Nolan Dalla, and many of my friends in the media were all in attendance. My camera rarely stopped clicking.

Isabelle Mercier

Chris Moneymaker

Lee Jones

Uber Poker Blogger, Paul "Dr. Pauly" McGuire

Indeed, it was all very familiar. And though there was a new face (and new bracelet) in the crowd, it was not an unfamiliar visage. That guy, friends, was 2005 World Series of Poker champion, Joe Hachem.

Joe Hachem talks to a reporter

What was he doing there? Sources say Hachem and PokerStars have been getting very chummy recently. Hachem has been playing on PokerStars for years and when he strapped on his bracelet, few people had any doubt where he would land. Frankly, I can't say if there is an official relationship or not yet, but it's looking like a real possibility. After all, Hachem was decked out in a PokerStars shirt and posed for pictures with his fellow champions.

The media, from ESPN to MTV to Vanity Fair, were intrigued. As Hachem and his Aussie mates proved at the World Series and Hachem later illustrated on the Tonight Show, he's a charismatic and humble guy. Still, he seemed right at home in front of the cameras.

Joe Hachem speaks to ESPN cameras

The night went on, full of good food, good drink, and bad beats. Toward the end of the evening, Seth from "Stuff" magazine got heads-up with Greg Raymer, and showed that media folk aren't always bad at poker.

Seth shows his Stuff

Seth left with a story to tell and the rest of us were left with the distinct impression that PokerStars will very soon have another world champion in its posse.

And this one is an Aussie...named Joe Hachem.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in PokerStars news