There aren’t many well-known successful father-son combos in poker
Todd and Doyle Brunson immediately spring to mind, but down in Australia it’s all about 2005 WSOP Main Event champ Joe Hachem and his 24-year old son Anthony.
In 2013, Joe watched on proudly as Anthony defeated a field of 844 players in the ANZPT Melbourne Repechage to claim a $181,460 top prize.
Outside of Doyle and Todd, you would be hard pressed to find a father and son who have both won major titles and posted six-figure scores or more. It’s quite a unique feat.
“You have to be very blessed and very lucky for something like winning a tournament to happen,” Anthony told us during a break at the WSOP APAC. “It happened to me once and it’s very hard for that to happen often.”
Keeping Poker Fun
Despite posting the big result and having a father like Joe, Anthony still doesn’t want to pursue poker full time.
“Even after the ANZPT result I had, I didn’t want to step away from my job managing a friend’s business. The real world is where it’s all happening.”
“Maybe when I’m 40 or 50 I will go on the poker tour, but not until then. I just want to keep having fun with my poker. That’s what’s important.”
After seeing the success that his father had it’s somewhat surprising that Anthony has been able to stay grounded and not just dive head first into trying to be a poker pro.
“Dad is happy that I don’t do it full time. He prefers it that way. There is still university, still working. A lot more important things. When you just keep poker casual and you win some money, then you win some money.”
“If you don’t, you don’t. You’re not playing enough to lose a lot of money. That’s the best way. Then you go into tournaments and it’s not stressful, you don’t get upset when you lose.”
Playing Hachem Home Games Helped Prepare Anthony
Anthony does seem to be living by his own words as he doesn’t seem stressed at the tables playing the $10,000 buy-in WSOP APAC Main Event.
Maybe that’s because of all those years playing in home games with his dad and being taught how to play by a WSOP Main Event champion.
“When Dad explains a hand, gives you a rundown of his thinking, you just go ‘This guy knows what he’s talking about.’ Even when you thought you knew what you were doing!”
Anthony is certainly a player in his own right though and looks comfortable late into Day 2 of one of the biggest events in the country.
“I love playing in big events like this. It’s a great experience, playing with some of the best players in the world. It keeps you on your toes. You get to have fun and you get to really think and be challenged by the best. It’s always good learning.”
Lessons With Australia's Poker Champ
Anthony was just 14 when Joe won the WSOP Main Event so clearly had a head start in learning the game, but poker was never a priority in Anthony’s life.
“Dad was happy to impart his knowledge, but it was all within reason. Going to school and working has always been more important.”
“But in saying that, poker is a part of our family now. There’s nothing that can change that.”
At 24, Anthony has become accustomed to his dad being a poker icon in Australia, but there was a time when he didn’t really understand what his Dad had achieved.
“When Dad first won, me and my brothers and sister had no idea what was happening. We celebrated something, but didn’t really know what it meant.”
“We learned pretty quick what poker was after that, but it was a pretty surreal experience.”
A lot changed for Anthony the day Joe won the WSOP Main Event and even nine years later while he sits at the tables at the Crown Casino, he’s surrounded by giants billboards of his Dad.
At Home Joe Hachem is Just Dad
“Sure, you see your dad on posters all over the poker room, but its normal for me. He’s still just my Dad. We’ve stayed grounded.”
“To me, my brother and my sister he’s just Dad. To other people I guess he’s Joe Hachem the poker champion and that’s cool too.”
Anthony is pretty adamant he won’t be following in his father’s footstep, but that could change in just a few days if everything goes right.
“I really don’t think I would ever play full time unless I won WSOP APAC 2014 this weekend, then I would definitely think about it.”
"It’s hard though, there are just so many good players. You have to get lucky to win something like this and then luck eventually runs out.”