2007 World Series: Champion vs. Champion

June 19, 2007

“Why are you watching this table?” a friend asked me as I sat watching one six-handed table for an inordinate amount of time.

The question was a joke. Although the field was stacked, the table in the middle of the room was The Table worth watching.

“It’s the first time Greg and I have ever drawn a table together,” said Joe Hachem.

It was the six-handed $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em event and two of the players at the table, Hachem and Greg Raymer, had won the Main Event in the past four years. Not only that, but wunderkind Jason Strasser sat there, too.

Lest you think the champions, both members of Team PokerStars, were soft-playing each other, consider this exchange after Hachem bluffed Raymer out of a pot.

Raymer: “Hachem showed me the bluff.”
Hachem: “I was just having some fun. If you hadn’t given me the little speech, I would’ve mucked.
Raymer: “I’m glad I gave the speech then. Now I know what that little twitch means.”

It was not long after that when The Table finally broke. Hachem, with a less than stellar stack, turned to me and said, “I want this on the record. In the history of me moving tables when short-stacked, I last two hands on average.”

That statistic alone made my decision on who I was following. Hachem ended up at a talkative table where, apparently, the bad beats had been falling right and left.

The dealer went to work and Hachem turned around to say, “That’s two hands.” Noting my notebook, he said, “I’m deliberately folding.”

Hachem had not been picking up cards. In six hours of play, he’d only seen two pocket pairs. Once he called a raise with 77 and had to fold on the flop. The second time, he had pocket kings in the big blind. Everybody folded to him.

Now, at a new table that was impressed by his celebrity, he seemed intent going to work. When a player opened for 1,110 under the gun, Hachem moved all-in from the button for 4,300. When the player fell into deep thought, Hachem said, “Come on. Fold! You’ll have a story to tell: ‘I let the world champion live!'”

His opponent mucked.

A British fellow in the three seat pointed to me. “Make a note of this,” he said, “He’s bullying the table and he just sat down.”

Since it seemed Hachem had the table under control, I wandered over to Raymer’s table to find most of his chips moving into the hands of erstwhile poker force Vinnie Vinh. Raymer was headed for the cash security boxes soon thereafter.

Hachem’s fate would not be much better. Upon my return, he’d run into aces and muttered a simple, “Of course.”

The news, however, is not all bad. At the dinner break, Barry Greenstein (fresh off his seventeen step poker program), remained in the $2,500 event with an average stack. Also alive were Bill Chen and Terrence Chan, friends who were also forced to sit together for a while today.

In other news, Team PokerStars’ Katka Thater has battled her way deep into the $1,500 Razz event and has chips as they near the bubble.

We should also mention that comedian and PokerStars friend Norm MacDonald finished in 20th place in the $3,000 No-Limit Hold’em today.

Finally, if you’d like a different take on the action here, I’d encourage you to check out some of PokerStars other blogs:

German Poker Blog
Swedish Poker Blog
Portuguese Poker Blog
PokerStars.net Blog


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