Since I joined Team PokerStars a year ago, I have felt like I’m part of a family. From the friends I’ve made in support (the best in the industry, by the way — you guys rule!) to the friends I’ve made in our marketing and other departments, to the friends I’ve made on the team, I’ve always felt welcomed and embraced by, well, the family.
Of course, all of us have our own families, and even here at the World Series of Poker, a lot of Team PokerStars players have some or all of their family with them. Greg’s wife is here, Humberto’s entire family is here, including his brother Alex, who is a WPT Champion and two-time WSOP runner-up, and Joe’s brother Tony Hachem can frequently be found in some very tough cash games and even in a few WSOP events just down the hall in the mighty Amazon Room.
My family isn’t here (my kids are in summer school, so they’re back in California with my wife) and I miss them dearly, so when I’m not chasing down or writing a story, I’ve hung out with my PokerStars family, or sat in on a cash game to pass the time and keep the sadness that always threatens to get a grip on my heart at bay. Two nights ago, Paul Phillips — who is probably the best friend I have in the poker world — and I played in one of the many cash games in the Amazon room after he busted out of the HORSE event. It was totally surreal: one minute, I was sweating Paul while he played 200 a point Chinese with Men the Master, and then we were in a 2-5 game together, with a bunch of regular guys, two of whom didn’t know Paul is one of the best in the world until he stacked them — twice.
In an effort to get my body off of Vegas time, which is where you stay up until three or four in the morning and still wake up six hours later feeling like you slept on a bed of nails with a brick on your skull, I cashed out of the game (almost a full buy-in up, thank you very much) around midnight.
On my way to the cage to cash out, I saw Todd Brunson putting at least a half-million in chips into his safe deposit box (I say “at least” because I only saw one of his numerous racks) and bumped into Joe Hachem’s brother Tony.
I’ve seen Tony quite a bit around the PokerStars hospitality suite, so I asked him how he was doing.
“Pretty good,” he said, “though I just busted out of the 2000 pot-limit event.”
“Did you go out good, or did you go out hating yourself?”
“I’m not sure,” he said.
I reached for my notebook.
“Do you mind if I put this on the blog?”
“Not at all, man.” He said.
I opened my notebook.
“I raised under the gun with pocket tens,” he said, “and this other bloke came over the top of me from late position, so I pushed. He called with kings.”
“Oops,” I said.
He laughed. We’ve all done it, and we’ll all do it again. Personally, I’d rather go out by pushing a good hand into a great hand than by taking a bad beat, or — worse — completely misreading my opponent and doing something I’ll beat myself up over for weeks.
“Yeah, but I needed chips to make a run as we got near the bubble, and it was sort of payback,” he said.
“Yeah, this bloke and I had been in a lot of hands together, including one where I won a big race against him with ace jack against his pocket pair, so he just got his chips back.”
He laughed again, and I joined him this time. How many times has this exact sequence of events played out for me?
“I finished 89th, though,” he said. “Not quite in the money.”
“Dude, 89th out of 590? That is fantastic!”
“Thanks, man.” He said.
“Okay,” I said, “because this is for the blog, I have to ask: did you talk with Joe about the hand?” Joe was still in the tournament, but after watching him walk away from the table to take a picture with a fan, I was certain that he’d take a moment to replay a hand with his brother.
“Yeah, he says I should have gotten away from it, because I still had chips, but I don’t know about that.”
Now I really cracked up. Only a brother could question poker advice from the reigning WSOP champion and get away with it.
Of course, the Hachem family was well-represented in event number eighteen: Joe made a great run, and finished 15th. The PokerStars family was also well-represented: Jim McManus made it to the final table, and finished sixth.
Photo by Flip Chip Pro at lasvegasvegas.com.