With his great talent at the card table coupled with a winning personality, Joe Hachem is one of the most popular players on the poker scene. He is also one of the most successful, with winnings of over $12 million. Known for his calculated risk-taking, he is one of only six players to have won a World Series of Poker (WSOP) main event and a World Poker Tour Championship. His victory in the 2005 WSOP main event brought him $7.5 million, what was back then a record for all-time biggest tournament prize. Let’s look at Joe Hachem’s career.
Early life and career
Joseph Hachem was born in Lebanon in 1966 and moved to Melbourne, Australia in 1972. A thirteen-year career as a chiropractor was cut short due to a rare blood disorder that affected the blood vessels in his hands.
Already a keen amateur card player, he began playing poker more in 1995 during a period of recovery and eventually moved from casual play into bigger tournaments around the turn of the millennium.
Hachem has stated that this time was well spent in the development of his playing style – he learned to play with less emotion, not making rash decisions. Five years of success in Melbourne buoyed him to set his sights on the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.
Winning hand 2005
Entering the 2005 WSOP main event – by paying the $10,000 admission fee in cash – Hachem was relatively unknown. Yet he found himself playing against Steve Dannenmann in the final stages.
The final hand was won in typically audacious fashion, with Hachem dealt a seven-three to Dannenmann’s ace-three and calling a $700,000 raise. The 27% chance became 89% after the flop of 4-5-6, with Hachem sitting on a magical straight. However, a strategic check left Dannenmann thinking he had a shot at the pot, and he duly raised $1,000,000, raised by the same again by Hachem. The banter between the two only served to raise Hachem’s confidence, but he kept his poker face on in the face of a $3million raise, going all in. Dannenmann was left with one chance of a redraw, needing a 7 to stay in the game. It wasn’t to be, and a 4 gave Hachem the title, and the biggest win to date in the WSOP, $7.5million.
His win brought him worldwide fame and made him a celebrity in both Australia and Lebanon.
Even in Lebanon, his fans look for ways to play a range of poker variants online, consulting online gambling websites like ArabianBetting, despite the many restrictions on gambling in the country.
Subsequent success in Vegas
The following year Hachem took his first World Poker title at the Bellagio Casino’s Five Diamonds Poker Classic, scooping a prize of $2.2 million. This success made him one of only six players to have won a WSOP main event and a World Poker title.
He won the World Series of Poker Champions II, beating a table full of former main event winners, taking home $120,000. During the 2006 WSOP series, he finished 4th in the $2,500 pot-limit hold ’em tournament, out of a field of more than 500 players.
While never able to emulate his successes again, he still has competed admirably in many high-profile tournaments, and remains a popular figure in the world of poker, and was inducted into the Australian Poker Hall of Fame in 2009.
Worst fold in history?
During the Five Diamonds Poker Classic at the Bellagio in 2006 – which he eventually won – Hachem made what many pundits regard as the worst fold in pro poker history, playing against Jordan Morgan. He held 5-3 – the second-best pairing after the 7-4 flop. The next card was 6, meaning that Hachem had the second best possible hand at that point – only 8-5 would have bettered it. Hachem, after lengthy deliberations, and a potential 20-minute exclusion for showing two of his cards, finally folded, drawing bemused laughter from the crowds.
Despite that infamous fold, Hachem usually has the ability to make bold strategic laydowns. He attributes his success to control and discipline, and the ability to make good decisions at crucial times. He advises casual players against bluffing, and he will only bluff when he has more than one out on a hand. He says he prefers to play on televised events, as he believes his opponents will play safer, reluctant to do anything silly in front of the cameras.
Joe Hachem is one of the most successful poker players from Australia, and his stunning success in 2005 and 2006 made him a real fan favorite on the scene.