WSOP Main Event: Joe Hachem makes Day 2
by Ali Lightman
World Champion Joe Hachem has cruised through to Day 2 of the Main Event, ending in the wee hours with a stack of
$56,500 $86,500. (For more details about the monster pot that he took down after the final whistle had blown, visit Here's the Plan Boys.
Despite fifteen hours under the hot tv lights of the feature table, his every move visible to numerous cameras and his title under attack by more than two thousand hopefuls, Joe remained his easy-going self. Quick with a smile, gracious with fans in the bleachers and even popping out to buy sandwiches for his opponents.
The action slowly but surely wound up in tempo during this marathon session with new players wheeling in, and busting out, all around him.
Only two others who started the day with Joe survived.
I left the rail only to file my reports and eat chocolate.(note: not a food group.)
This is how it went.
A 21-year-old PokerStars qualifier was first to find his seat at Table 155 and looked a bit stunned that it was centre stage, surrounded by lights, cameras and action.
"Do you know who's on your table?" I asked William Deadwyler, from Philadelphia.
"Oh yeah" he replied, as recognition dawned."I heard he was some kind of celebrity."
You could say that.
Everyone else looked petrified of the World Champion who had a touch of Zorro about him, in black with dark shades.
In the first fifteen minutes of play he took a pot, stealing the blinds with a pre-flop raise, and lost one when his bets from middle position were called down to the river by the button.
There was a bit of kerfuffle ten minutes later when someone acted out of turn, but the excitement was ended before it really began by the floor supervisor, and players settled into their seats.
Actually, most of them did.
One seat had been vacant for about forty minutes and it was a slightly sheepish young man who eventually turned up. It didn't appear to me that he was doing a Hellmuth, just a bit lost.
Joe took down a couple more pots with pre-flop raises and generally play was tight, early on.
Joe Hachem claimed his first scalp in the closing moments of Level 1 and counted $15 500 chips.
Joe bet from early position, found a caller and was raised by the small blind.
Joe looked at him, smiling, and raised it up again. One player abandoned his cards and the original raiser went promptly into the tank.
26 year old Nick Voyatzis looked at his remaining $4 700 and pushed it all in, getting the answer he didn't want.
Joe turned black Aces. Nick flipped QQ. The flop came Ace-high and Nick was headed home to Los Angeles.
Was it any consolation, being busted out by the World Champion?
"No" Nick told me. "I feel terrible. Doesn't matter who it was."
William Deadwyler, shaking with nerves and by now in no danger of ever forgetting who Joe is, won his first big pot. He flopped a set of 5s against AK on a King-high board. As William shakily gathered in his chips laughter rippled around the table.
"What was the joke?" I asked Joe going into his break.
"The kid stopped breathing" he replied. "He got called by the tightest guy on the table. Even when he knew he was home, he didn't breathe. I reminded him to start again, asked if he wanted a Valium."
It's typical of Joe, a former chiropractor, to be concerned about others.
Fruit-box in hand, water bottle in the other, he went over to his wife Jeannie, who was sitting in the bleachers behind him with two of her cousins from home, Marlene and Samantha.
"It's nerve-wracking" Jeannie said, "I'm chatting to everyone so I don't have to watch him play. I know he's a big star, but to me he's just my husband. He's my baby."
By the next level Joe had almost doubled his starting stack and went into the break with $19 500.
And there was another new face at the table.
24 year old Cody Hutchings, from Turlock, California, had busted out. His QQ was no good against AA on a board of 8 J 4 2 J.
So how did he feel playing against Joe?
"Intimidated" he said, before wandering dejectedly from centre stage.
The father in Joe came out during this level. He got up from the game and strolled away, I presumed to stretch his legs, a wise move given the stampede of leg-stretchers bolting for the nearest loo on every break.
But he'd been shopping. He came back with a bag of sandwiches, tossing one across the table to William Deadwyler.
"The kid said he was hungry. I wanted some gum. I can't eat while others are hungry, it's a culture thing." (Thanks for the tuna salad Joe. Blogging and breakfast, and for that matter, lunch, don't mix.)
There were a couple of big hands during this round that got Joe's stack up. He called a bet from his right on a flop of 5s 8c Jh, and when his opponent checked the turn, 7h, moved all in.
"But I can't tell you what I had."
A little later a player in middle position made a pre-flop bet of $600, which Joe raised up to $1 600. He was called. The flop came Q J rag, and the other player folded to Joe's bet of $3 500.
Despite the new players, Joe felt the complexion of the table hadn't changed.
William Deadwyler, our PokerStars qualifier from Philadelphia, is used to a little macho head-butting as he's on his University Rugby team. By now he was the other big stack at the table. He wanted to know, going into the next break, if Joe had him covered.
Joe chilled out through Level 3, shoes off, feet up, 50 Cent on his iPod.
"I haven't seen any hands this round. I'm not getting involved."
So he did something else he does very well, and entertained the table.
"Everyone's having fun, it's Joe, he's keeping it light" said feature table dealer Jason Bouslaugh, (whose alter ego is dealer floor coordinator).
While he didn't get cards, Joe did get away with a couple of swift moves to increase his stack by $1 000. Over the dinner break he headed up to his room, where Jeannie was waiting, to relax. Not hard with $20 500.
William Deadwyler had taken the table chip lead, with more than $27 500, but his nerves hadn't calmed down at all.
Didn't the sandwich Joe bought him help?
"It was nice", he said "but I'm so nervous I could hardly eat it".
William went searching the Convention Centre for chicken noodle soup, knowing he should eat, but fearing it might still be too much of a challenge for his tender young stomach.
Despite his fit of the vapours, the Economics Major from George Washington University cranked things up a gear during this level. He attacked the blinds and won a huge pot in an all-in showdown.
William had pocket 8s against Qh3h, and made a set on the river.
Had he come with any supporters? Perhaps a girl?
"I'm single right now. It sucks. If you could find me a girl that would be sweet."
If he continues to play as well as he has so far I suspect the girls will find him.
Spectators in the bleachers got a little restive during Level 4, or the men did at least.
The tv crew was shooting reaction shots and that's what we were seeing on the monitors. It made it nigh on impossible to follow the table action, but it was fascinating to see the nuances of emotion and decision flicker across the players' faces.
After about fifteen minutes of big close-ups on Joe there was a sigh from behind me.
"My oh my, but the scenery is pretty."
I turned around to agree and met Beverley Hoff. She was part of a Mum cheer squad, barracking for one of the players who sat down with Joe at the start of the day.
Beverley plays a girls' home game in Dallas with Linda Johnson, who has come to Vegas with her girlfriends to support her 34 year old banker son, Zach.
And so they should, as the ladies taught Zach to play poker in the first place.
Sadly, Zach busted out a little later, another victim of PokerStars player William Deadwyler who had amassed a monster stack.
Zach was all in with AQ against William's pocket 5s. The board came 7 A 5 8 10 giving him a set and sending Zach home.
Joe took down a big pot just as Level 4 was ending. The under the gun player flat called, and was followed in by three more limpers.
It was Joe's button.
He raised, closed his eyes, stuck his fingers in his ears and hoped for the best.
He got callers and the flop came 6 6 4. It was checked around to Joe, who bet out again. They all folded and he showed his cards to the table.
He had 84o.
Joe had $27 000 and William thought he might have double that amount but wasn't keeping count as he went on his break.
The World Champion busted out yet another player during Level 5, which saw action at the feature table get a lot livelier.
Joe raised under the gun and it was folded around to Seth Entwisle in the big blind. Seth looked down, found AsQs, and re-raised all in for his last $5 000.
"You are joking" said Joe, staring him down.
And that's when Seth got that sinking feeling.
"As soon as I heard him say that, I knew he had kings."
His read was right, though too late. Joe flipped over red Kings and 33 year old Seth was heading back to his organic lawncare business in Springfield, Missouri.
Allyn Jaffrey Shulman, the only woman at the table, played a short stack brilliantly for most of the day. Allyn, William and Joe were the only survivors from the original line-up.
She started hitting cards, and hard. She went all-in five times in this level inducing near hysterics in her son Julian, watching in the bleachers.
At one point she tangled with Joe, calling his pre-flop raise. When the flop came 6h 8s Qc, he fired at the pot again, and Allyn called to her son, "any advice?"
As Julian shrugged helplessly Joe answered for him, "Allyn, don't call!"
She built her stack to more than $30 000 and Julian stopped hyperventilating.
Joe built his stack surely and steadily, stepping up his aggression and showing his tablemates the flair that won him the bracelet last year.
I'd been hanging out on the bleachers with William's roomie from George Washington University in DC, and heard the extraordinary tale of how he came to be facing the World Champion across the table.
William and Dustin Beruta met in freshman year over poker games in their dorm.
They decided to try their luck in Vegas over the summer never entertaining thoughts of the World Series.
They shared a 27 hour driving stint from Philadelphia to Denver in May, one sleeping on a heap of suitcases while the other took the wheel.
William was wired not tired by the journey so he logged onto PokerStars while Dustin crashed out in the room, only to be rudely awaken by his mate's ecstatic progress to victory in a WSOP satellite.
If he wins or cashes big, William's promised Dustin they'll freight the car back and fly home to school.
"I still feel sick. I think I'll be nauseous until I bust out or win."
Possibly William speaks for many who have made it through their punishing first day of the richest sporting event in history.
But according to Jeannie, Joe slept soundly through last night. Although his $56,000 starting stack when he sits down for Day 2 isn't even close to the chip leaders, I'm sure he's doing the same now.