Around the world, and a final table

teampro-thumb.JPGWell, it was a crazy three weeks beginning February 22nd. I flew straight into Vegas for the Big Game. I played in the last session and it was one of the most fun times I have had playing poker. Both Tony G. and Phil Hellmuth should get medals or statues for their respective performances, As for me, I ran into quads twice in 150 hands. Nothing more to be said.

Daniel "Kid Poker"Negreanu had organised a plane to take us straight into LA for the Commerce WPT. All went smoothly until we arrived at the Commerce at 4am and found out all our rooms (which we had booked a while ago) had been given up to other people. Mind you, on this flight was Hellmuth, Phil Laak, Brian Raast, Jen Tilly, Daniel and myself. I was waiting for Phil H. to blow up but, nooooo, he was all Zen-like. Daniel, on the other hand was ready to tear down some walls, and rightly so. None of us slept on the street, so it all worked out.

So we get to the bubble of the main event. I'm short-stacked waiting for someone to bust. It was taking forever. Then a buddy sends me over a scotch on the rocks, and like four doubles later, we are still on the bubble. Jason Senti raised under the gun, and I shipped it for my last 54,000 (blinds 3/6k methinks).

I'm totally smashed at this stage and call for the cameras (you can check it out if you Google "Joe Hachem LAPC bubble") and what have you. Scott Siever to my left claims to have folded queens. Jason calls and I show him the nuts. Of course A♠A♣. They hold up, and before you know it, the bubble bursts at 74 players and I survive to 33rd for $38,000.

I flew out the next day to Arizona to visit my good friend Kevin O'Donnell. I had a great night at his bar, KO's, and rested up next day.

I flew back to Vegas on March 3rd for the NBC Heads-Up drawing party and drew Phil Galfond. I wasn't too happy to draw this genius, but I had a plan (which turned to shit when he caught runner, runner straight twice to beat me). He is a really nice kid, and I have loads of respect for him. One good thing that came out of the game was when I made a really good lay down at the last moment after I picked up a tell on him, and I was right.

The next day, I flew straight back to LA for the Big Event at The Bike. I arrived 5 1/2 hours late and built my stack from 27,000 to 90,000 in 2 1/2hrs. Must be nice, right?

I came back on Day 2 and had to leave an hour early for a very important meeting in Beverly Hills regarding my show "The Poker Star." So, I got blinded down to 74,000 for the night with 70 players left.

The next day I checked out of my hotel (I had a flight that night) and headed off to The Bike. Fifty-six players would get paid, so I decided I would grind it out to the bubble, and if I caught some cards then so be it, and I would make a run for the title. Right on the bubble I had 10 big blinds, but this bubble burst immediately, and before I knew it I had 800,000. Nice run. I finished with 610,000 for the night. So, I canceled my flight and rebooked for next day. I went back to my hotel, checked back in, slept like a baby, got up did a work out, then checked out and headed back to the Bike with 24 players left.

At exactly 3pm, this hand came up. I raised in the cutoff with K8. The button called and had me covered. The flop came 3♣4♣6♠. I c-bet for half-pot, and he called. The turn was the K♠. I fired 178,000, and he insta-shoved. Wow!

I thought and thought, and then I thought some more.I finally came to the conclusion that he must be on a semi-bluff.

My reasoning:

1) He acted so quickly
2) He is a tough online player and very capable
3) If he did hit the flop, he would have tried to get more money in on the flop

If folded, I would have had 20 big blinds left, and I didn't like that. So, I called with top pair, no kicker. He had pocket fives for 3rd pair and open ender. The river blanked, and suddenly I had 1.4m in chips. I was in contention. I got down to the final table, went back to the hotel, and recheck-ed in again--this time for two days.

At the final table with me was my good friend and fellow Pokerstars Team Pro Victor Ramdin. I was sitting fourth in chips, but very comfortable. My goal here was to focus on a top three placing, and then from there to win. Well, we got to top three, but it was a long tough road. It's a bit of a blur now, to be honest, except I did win three flips to knock three players out, so I ran pretty good.

I finally got to heads up with Victor. In mid-play, the news about the earthquake in Japan came on, and we both got rattled enough to take a break.

After we re-started, I took a big chip lead early. Then he flopped the nuts on me when I had a pair and straight draw. That gave him the lead. Half ab hour later, I flopped the nuts on him with a pair and flush draw and retook the lead. After that, he built up some momentum, and I went completely card dead. We finally got it in with me holding A♣K♣ vs. his ace-jack. The jack spiked, and Victor held the trophy proudly. Congrats, Victor. You played your heart out, matem and you deserve it.


I was totally exhausted after all of this. I had a day off in LA, and then took the long trip back home to family where I will be until May 5th when I leave for Madrid for the EPT Grand Final.

See you there.

Joe Hachem
@PokerStars in PokerStars news