WSOP Main Event: Three from Down Under up here
The journey to anywhere from Australia is not to be taken lightly. Australia, folks, is far away, and if you're going to leave, you had better really want to and make sure you're well prepared. It's a 927-hour flight home to pick up your toothbrush.
Sometimes, though, it's well worth the trouble it takes to make that journey, as a man named Joe Hachem will attest. The Team PokerStars Pro flew to Las Vegas in 2005 with the instructions, "Don't come home until you're World Champion!" ringing in his ears. He duly obliged, winning the final World Series Main Event to be played at Binion's Horseshoe, pocketing $5m and launching a poker boom Down Under.
Here at the Rio today are three players benefiting from the Hachem effect. Grant Levy is a newly minted Team PokerStars Australia Pro, while Michael Soranson and Peter Longmore are PokerStars qualifiers in the big dance for a relative pittance, having won online satellites.
"I can't lose," said an expectant Soranson in the anxious moments before the start of play. "Everything's a bonus from here."
Having taken up poker about three years ago, playing in online freerolls to build a balance sufficient to move up the ladder of games, Soranson is now able to describe himself as a poker professional. This is his first trip to poker's spiritual home and he's enjoying it immensely so far, describing visits to Caesars and the Wynn as "sightseeing".
His travel companion on this trip is his mother, but his fiance Nicole is following his progress through the time-zones back in in Brisbane. A decent pay-day here should set up a great wedding when Soranson returns.
Longmore had to make a tough decision to come to the World Series all the way from Melbourne. The father of a two-year-old had a hard time leaving his kid for the long haul to Las Vegas. The one-time full-time pro now just plays when he can and finally made the decision to cross the Pacific. This Longmore's second main event.
The first time, "I got crushed," he said. But even if that's the case again -- and we hope and expect it not to be -- Longmore has very little to lose. This year he is in for $36, having won his package in a $36 double shootout qualifier.
Levy's might be a similarly new name to many readers, but really it shouldn't be. The 30-year-old from Penrith, near Sydney, has been causing significant ripples for some time now, none more so than in December 2007, when he became the first Australian to become a poker millionaire on home soil when he took down the APPT event in Sydney.
Levy has been on a tear since then, notching up decent scores in numerous tournaments across the southern hemisphere. He took his seat in the red section this afternoon eager to make his first splash in this neck of the woods.
* * * * *
CREATIVE PROMOTION OF THE HOUR
Team PokerStars Pro Vicky Coren has affixed a large PokerStars sticker to her designer sunglasses. When asked if she thought the sticky backing might ruin the lenses, she shrugged. "The alternative was to wear a hat, and I draw the line," she said. "If it ruins the sunglasses, nevermind."
* * * * *
SEMAPHORE OF THE HOUR
Right hand to logo on shirt, right arm then extended in direction of corresponding lounge. Repeat three to four times until they nod three or four times.
(Used when signalling a friend on the rail as to where they should wait for you at the break.)
* * * * *
JOE GIRON'S PHOTO HOUR
* * * * *
VIDEO OF THE HOUR
Watch WSOP 2009: Steven Tabb Online Qualifier on PokerStars.tv