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Joe Hachem – Australian Poker Icon

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Joe Hachem, Poker PlayerPerhaps the most famous Australian poker player in the world, Joseph Hachem was not always the household name he is today. Hachem gained most of his fame after winning the 2005 World Series of Poker, though his professional poker career had already begun before then.

Joe Hachem was born on March 11, 1966 in Lebanon. At the age of six he moved with his family to Melbourne, Australia. As an adult, Hachem was a recreational poker player who worked as a chiropractor for more than a decade before a blood disorder that affected his hands forced him into retirement.

Around that same time, Hachem also began playing poker more frequently. In 1995, he had moved into the realms of both casino and online poker, and was beginning to have some success – especially after he learned how to control his temper to avoid going on tilt. The discipline he gained would become the hallmark of his poker game, both in tournaments and cash games.

Hachem’s move into the world of professional poker began around 2000. He soon showed proficiency on the tournament circuit, as he cashed in numerous tournaments held in Melbourne. Interestingly, his first ever cash was in an A$360 Pot Limit Omaha tournament in 2000. However, his real talent was for Hold’em, as he would cash in ten more tournaments in the next five years, including a final table appearance at the 2004 Crown Victorian Poker Championships.

The World Series of Poker

Admittedly, though, all of those cashes were quite small, with the largest being an A$5,950 cash in 2002. Hachem’s real breakthrough would occur in 2005, when he travelled to compete in the World Series of Poker.

Hachem’s story that year didn’t begin with his incredible Main Event run. A few days before that event started, Hachem took part in a $1,000 No Limit Hold’em Rebuy tournament that featured a field of 894 players. Hachem fought his way up to 10th place, winning $25,850 for his efforts.

Perhaps that was a sign that Hachem was in form. Hachem started the WSOP Main Event strong, building a large stack early and never looking back. Hachem made the final table, and though he was short-stacked at various points, he used a combination of luck and skill to fight back. After surviving the longest WSOP Main Event final table ever – it lasted nearly 14 hours – he would go on to win the tournament, beating out 5,618 competitors in order to take down what was at the time the largest prize in the history of tournament poker: $7.5 million. Incredibly, despite the marathon final table session, the heads up battle against Steve Dannenmann took only six hands to complete.

An Australian Hero

After the tournament, Hachem became a household name in Australia. He almost singlehandedly caused the worldwide poker boom to reach Australia, turning what was a relatively unpopular game into a sensation in his home country.

The biggest question left for Hachem was whether he would be able to continue his success in the poker world – a question he answered resoundingly in following years. After reaching the final table in a WSOP Circuit event later in 2005, Hachem would go on to finish 2nd in the $2,500 Short-Handed No Limit Hold’em tournament in the 2006 WSOP. At the end of 2006, Hachem would then win the World Poker Tour Doyle Brunson Poker Classic, winning a prize worth more than $2.2 million in the process.

In recent years, Hachem hasn’t been able to bring in any major titles or million dollar scores, but that hasn’t stopped him from continuing to cash in big events on a regular basis. In January 2012, Hachem finished 3rd in the $100,000 No Limit Hold’em Challenge at the Aussie Millions, winning A$330,000. Overall, Hachem has won at least $100,000 in live tournaments ever year since 2005.

Overall, Hachem’s career winnings amount to $11,742,845. That puts him 10th on the all-time money list for live tournament poker. Not surprisingly, that also makes him the top Australian money winner in poker, more than doubling the career winnings of Antanas “Tony G” Guoga.

Outside of Poker

Today, Hachem owns a mortgage company, and has expressed a keen interest in playing golf. He has been married since 1989 to his wife Jeanie, with whom he has four children. Hachem has said that his goal in his poker career is to show that it’s perfectly possible for a top professional to also have a healthy family life, and that poker players should not be considered degenerate gamblers.

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