WSOP Main Event: "Aussie Aussie Aussie!" - Day 1D Begins

by Ali Lightman

All eyes are going to be on Joe Hachem today, and he knows it. Not only those of the other 2000-odd nervous contenders praying for an easy table, with Joe not on it, because it's also their first day of the Main Event.

There are some 2 700 who have made it through to Day 2 already, and about 3 300 whose dreams of winning the WSOP are over for this year at least.

There's the throng of supporters who queue as players enter the room, pointing out their favorites then waiting patiently, sometimes for hours, for a spot jamming the rails.

Hundreds of bleary-eyed reporters are camped at the Rio, feeding out the news to millions of poker fans around the world via the mainstream media and blogs like this.

Let's spare a thought for the marketeers poised with baited breath over their budget spreadsheets hoping Joe does, or doesn't, win it again.

And then there's Australia, his home, a nation that bets on two flies crawling up a wall. Poker exploded when Joe defeated 5618 people to win the bracelet, and $7.5 million, with his 7 3. Joe is big box office Downunder.

How did he sleep last night with all that pressure? Soundly, I am sure, with his wife Jeannie by his side and two youngest kids up the hall. The Joe I know will be thinking of his family.

He was doing so yesterday as his younger brother Tony and cousin, Billy, took their chances. Joe stayed in touch with both by phone, giving advice, and commiserating when Billy was knocked out late last night.

The Hachems are a close-knit extended family and it has been tough on them all, coping at home in Melbourne with long separations, as Joe worked far away playing tournaments and being roving ambassador for the WSOP and for PokerStars.

The forty year old has already proved he's no flash in the pan, with two final table finishes already under his belt in preliminary events to this year's big one. He finished 2nd in the $2 500 Short Handed No Limit Hold'Em ($256 800) and 4th in the Pot Limit Hold'Em ($90 482). No other reigning World Champion has done that since Scotty Nguyen eight years ago, when the fields were much, much smaller, and before the emergence of the internet player.

I don't know what it's like to face Joe across the baize. I do know what it's like to sit around the dinner table with him, and his family. We've spent several evenings together during this WSOP and back home in Australia.

He strikes me as a man happiest as the head of his family. Not in a Don Corleone way, waiting for supplicants to kiss him, but as a proud and contented family man who finds joy in simple things, like watching those he loves enjoy themselves.

Joe has found a serenity under pressure, you can see it in his eyes. But that has taken work. He's admitted in the past that, being a native of Lebanon, his blood is at boiling point when he's at rest.

But he will be patient today. That was the advice he gave his brother and cousin. He advised them to play each hand on its merits, and not to get involved in decent-sized pots with marginal hands. Don't be scared to re-raise, he told Billy and Tony, and use your position. Minimise what the hands are going to cost, stay calm, and enjoy it.

You can be sure Joe Hachem wouldn't say that if he didn't believe it, so I guess that will be the World Champion's game plan, today.

[Otis' Note: While Hachem may be the biggest Star of Day 1D, we'll still be keeping an eye on the remainder of our PokerStars qualifiers. Here's a list of the folks we'll be watching today:

612830
07shooter
10inchKen
1106
222much4u
3tomake5
4runner01
Acesupper
actyper
AdenDean
Agg!3
agissilaos
Aikinback
ajfennewald
AJGrogan
Alewyn
Alyeska
anakinso
AndersFriden
andurill
arookie
AsNas
astonwilli
atlantacd
baba13
Babysmooth99
BarFine600
Barman
barnsey
BARNUM413
Barron5
BeaSly79
Bedard
bellababy
Bertus
BetPot
Big_Kimo
BIGTALKER
BJDarter
bjlaz
blu_polanski
bmxreed36
booker4
BorisKarloff
botchman
BreakRibs
brsavage
bzola
Cafeblue
Callaway dds
calluch
camoflge
canalman
Cappy 33
Captain Fink
cardman61
Castor
cattaneo
ccmdsn
chukkieblack
cimoc
cottonbud
crackem
CTRLBREAK
CurtCurt
dafuzball
dagoo
daisy1299
DemonLS
dirkdigler
Ditech27
Don G
don_beppe
dtc1126
EasyEasyEasy
emily24
erbloore
EyeSpecs
F0LD--IT
f0tops
fadycool99
fearNgreed
flashbadger
FlushTheCat
For My Son
forcemajeure
framed.ca
gfabs5
Ghostbrook
gillete
gotaquarter
Gourlay
GrampyBobC
harrymike
highyield6
Honest Terry
hoopjones
IAMCY
iamlucky
Ian J
IceBear55
J. Hard
Jack3-9-95
JackBileDuct
jdeere5220
JJC02
JoeHachem
joel_f531
johnnysr
JOHNYBLUFF
jonspencer
Joseba
KDW^
kev1399
kls834
kotnutz
LeshIsMore
liggy
littlela
loboazul
LUHMAN
macmachine1
Marlowe
matoushek
Matt774
maxxscam
MEJG2
micon
mikef777
MM23
Money800
mortenbs
MrHarley
MrSweets28
needfood
NLarsen
NoMercy
Nordberg
OBJ!
opsco
PATNITROF
pearljam1012
PeterPaaPan
pktpower
PLAYBOY
pt213jek
Ratostrikes
REDFIR
Ribbens
RichieRich21
rjm98
ROCKET416
RODRIGO750
rounder81
rtmiddle
rynosandberg
sammyace101
SAMMYJF
saphaire
scottc25
sherman58
Shipitydoda
shoe45
slammedfire
Slaskmannen
slickrit
Snow Leopard
soulman92
SpecialEd65
spkplyr
StarGlenn
SteelWheel
swish3278
talmond01267
tballs808
TCMONEY16
tcoll17
Teejay6969
thebogieman
ThePokerShow
TheRoll
thestonk
TheWombat
Timetowaste
Tipsy
tironsi
Tommybelize
toolbox2
topfroggy
Toshiwonka
transit
trave
travertine
UB_Bone
utreg
V_Cash
viperbrad
vmheat01
W Snipes
wdeadwyler
weways
Wiz252
XUDavis
yelena
ykurtz
yornitemare
Zorix

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker