2008 World Series: PokerStars home game in the Green Zone

“I’m trying to find my flashlight,” said Gene Bromberg, the PokerNews writer relegated to the darkest corner of the Amazon Room, the Green Zone. “We had a lamp. It was here for two days, and then it was gone.”

The dimness is a necessity. The ESPN feature table (featuring none other than Chris Moneymaker) is just feet away. The fluorescent lights of the Amazon Room don’t mix well with the TV lights, and thus it stays dark in that corner.

That same section of the tournament area is, for whatever reason, the easiest in which to walk. The tables are widely-spaced and comfortable. It also happens to be the place where we find the equivalent of a PokerStars home game going on.

Table 1 features qualifier Rocco Marchegiani, FPP-qualifier Michael Ortlieb, WPT World Poker Open champion (and PokerStars-sponsored player) Brett Faustman, and Team PokerStars Pro Joe Hachem. At the adjacent table, PokerStars qualifiers Jim Hamburger and Gabriel Chuang are holding down the fort.

On just the second hand of the day, Hachem found his double-up hand. Queens were good against pocket eights, and suddenly the champ was back in contention.

Hachem all in with queens

His future looked brighter than just about anything. Suddenly, the tournament area was even darker.

“See if you can use your pull to get the clocks turned back on,” Hamburger said to me. I looked at the plasma screen on the wall. A tech looked perplexed as he shined a flashlight at the cables in the back. Something was wrong, but it was hard to tell what. The tourney clock was gone.

Hamburger, regardless, is all smiles today. The last time we saw him at a table (several days ago), he looked tired and a little sour. We saw him later and he told us the good news. He was up to 75,000 and feeling like a kid again. Minutes ago, he pointed down at his shoes…brand new Converse All-Stars. “Saw them last night,” he said marveling at his new blue kicks. “I wore them when I was ten!” This, coming from the man who got news of the his sixth grand child's birth eight days ago.

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Meanwhile, across the table Chuang got AQ all in against a short-stack’s AJ and send the player to the rail. There is no celebration, just quiet, cool play in a dark corner.

Tony Hachem, brother to the 2005 World Champion and a player with a stack going into Day 3 (he played yesterday), was getting the breath knocked out of him along the wall.

“I’m so tight,” he complained to the massage therapist. The therapist responded by beating Tony to a slack-jawed mess in the chair. He paid her for it and then stood up in time to see his brother come in for a raise to 1,500 under-the-gun.

If we need any evidence that people are always gunning for the World Champ, it came in the next thirty seconds as he got called by the two-seat, three-seat, and big blind. When the flop came down 7cKs8c, Hachem waited for the big blind to check, then calmly bet 4,500. Everyone folded nearly as quickly as they had first called and Hachem stacked the chips.

“Nice one, Joe,” said a newly-loose Tony Hachem.

And that was that. The end of the first level of the second day of the second day, otherwise known as Day 2b of the 2008 World Series of Poker, PokerStars Home Game edition.