Hachem Reflects on Life-Changing Poker Journey

Joe Hachem
Joe Hachem

Joe Hachem is at a crossroads in his poker career.

Since winning the 2005 WSOP Main Event the Australian poker superstar has traveled the world as a poker ambassador, played countless tournaments and claimed a World Poker Tour title.

He also won nearly $4 million playing poker during that span.

Times are changing for Hachem, however, as last month he announced he was leaving long-time sponsor PokerStars, which he helped build into the biggest online poker site in the world.

It turns out the whirlwind tour Hachem has been on since winning the Main Event is finally starting to take its toll.

“I’ve been on the road for seven years now and I’m totally exhausted,” he said during a break in the 2012 Aussie Millions Main Event.

Aussie Millions Pride and Joy

Hachem is one of the few players who has actually defined poker for an entire country and it’s never more apparent then when the Aussie Millions rolls around and thousands of Australian poker players and fans converge on the Crown Casino.

“It’s our pride and joy to be honest,” said Hachem, who lives in Melbourne.

“It’s a special event and it stands alone in that regard. It’s not connected to the EPT, LAPT, WPT or whatever.”

Joseph Hachem
Joe Hachem at the 2005 WSOP Main Event

It’s questionable if the tournament would even exist if it weren’t for Hachem’s record-setting haul at the WSOP in 2005.

Time to Move Forward

Since Hachem became the first Australian to win the Main Event, poker has exploded Down Under.

Where there used to be only one poker room in the entire country there is now one or more in every state.

So it was somewhat of a shock when PokerStars and Hachem parted ways in December. The two brands had been synonymous since 2005.

A few days ago Hachem announced that he had reached an agreement to work with the lesser-known AsianLogic and help develop their future strategies for the online poker market.

It was a somewhat surprising move for the Australian considering there’s a good chance he received attention from major industry players like 888poker, PartyPoker or Titan Poker.

“I had a big offer from a large poker room on the table,” he said.

“I thought ‘OK, do I sign on as an ambassador for a big room or do I partner up with a solid company that’s close to home and looking to expand with plenty of opportunities to let me help it grow?

"It was a no-brainer for me.”

Hachem went on to say that he was tired of “dancing like a monkey” and wanted to be more involved in the day-to-day business for a company.

AsianLogic, he said, was the natural fit.

Chance to Stay Closer to Home

With his new deal Hachem will also limit the amount of travelling he does.

Right now only has plans to play the LAPC, WPT Bay 101, WSOP, WSOPE, Epic Poker Tour and the two AsianLogic-backed APT events.

It’s a big difference for a guy who lives thousands of miles from every major tournament outside of the Aussie Millions.

Joe Hachem
Joe Hachem flashing his PokerStars patch in 2010.

“Every trip that I go on takes at least a day,” he said. “It’s a hell of a lot of time to spend on an airplane.”

Still On Top of His Game

At this point it would be easy to say Hachem might have lost an edge in his game or he’s now in the twilight of his career, but the feisty Australian would beg to differ.

Earlier this week Hachem outlasted some of the best poker players in the world – including Phil Ivey, Tom Dwan and Gus Hansen – to take third place in the massive $100k buy-in tournament at the Aussie Millions for an impressive $330k.

It was his biggest cash since 2006 and the most he’s ever won in his hometown casino.

In the past Hachem has been a somewhat decisive figure in the industry thanks to his penchant for taking it personally when the cards don’t go his way.

Young Stars Need to Learn Some Manners

Although a fan of rising Aussie online stars Jonathan Karamalikis and Jarred Graham, Hachem has been critical of young online poker players in the past and encouraged them to “grow up.”

He still maintains that it takes more than skill to become a true star in the poker world.

“A lot of these kids don’t have any manners or respect,” he said.

“They live and die behind their computer screens so they don’t feel like they have to own up to anything.”

Despite his desire to remain closer to home and work behind the scenes, Hachem will always have fond memories of the last seven years where he seemed to have a PokerStars patch tattooed to his chest.

“I feel blessed that I’ve had the opportunity to do this,” he said.

“It’s been amazing but at the same time I’ve worked my ass off to be the best ambassador and best poker player I could be.”

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