Australia has given the world many great cultural gifts.
Good beer, the hard rock band AC/DC and the “Mad Max” trilogy of movies are just a few of the things that have become important parts of the world outside of the land Down Under.
One of the favorite sons of Australia, however, was given to the poker world in the form of Joseph Hachem.
Hachem was originally born in Lebanon and immigrated to the island nation in the early 1970s.
He was a chiropractor by trade, but a degenerative arthritic condition forced him away from that profession.
After much deliberation, Joseph decided to take up one of his great passions, poker, as a way to support his wife and four children.
It was a decision that would change his life forever.
For the better part of a decade, Joe became a fixture on the Australian poker scene.
His first significant poker achievement was during the 2000 Australian Poker Championship when he finished fourth in the $300 rebuy Pot Limit Omaha competition.
Over the next five years, his tournament game rounded into form during other competitions mostly at the Crown Casino in Melbourne, which became his home base.
When 2005 came around, even Hachem wasn’t ready for what was about to happen.
On a whim (and with his wife’s blessing), Joseph headed to Las Vegas for the 2005 World Series of Poker.
He cracked onto the scene there with a 10th place finish on July 4th in the $1000 No-Limit Hold ‘Em event, outlasting over 800 players that included Howard Lederer, David “The DevilFish” Ulliot and Rob Hollink.
This gave him the confidence (and the bankroll) to take a shot at the greatest championship of all…the $10,000 No-Limit Championship Event, considered to be the World Championship of Poker.
Hachem battled through the 5,619 player field to be in the mix at the final table of the Championship Event, but it took him some time to work his way through the final nine.
“I was very aggressive throughout the tournament and once I reached the Final Table, I tried to keep up that aggressive play,” Joseph said to this writer in 2005.
“Once I found myself short stacked, though, I had to make a big adjustment to my game and became a little more conservative.
When I rebuilt my stack, then I could go on with the aggressive attack.”
That controlled aggressive attack allowed him to outlast the table until, in one of the longest final tables in the history of the World Series, he was able to defeat Steve Dannenman and capture the $7.5 million first prize, at that time the largest in the history of poker.
After winning the World Championship, Joseph has been quite active in the poker community.
Later in 2005, he showed his WSOP victory wasn’t a fluke by making the final table of a WSOP Circuit event in Las Vegas, only finishing fifth due to a devastating bad beat when his Kings failed to hold up against Kido Pham’s J-10 (Kido flopped two Jacks to take the hand and virtually eliminate Hachem).
He has also done well on the European Poker Tour and, in 2006, returned to the World Series, where he final tabled twice in preliminary tournaments and finished a highly respectable 238th in defending his Championship Event title.
Perhaps Hachem’s finest moment came at the end of 2006, however.
At the Five Diamond $15,000 World Poker Tour event in December 2006, he was able to defeat one of Canada’s finest players, Daniel Negreanu, and one of Denmark’s best in Mads Andersen to capture his first WPT championship, joining a very elite group of players who have won both the WSOP Main Event and a WPT title (the other three men are legendary…Doyle Brunson, Scotty Nguyen and Carlos Mortensen).
With that win, Joseph said he had finally achieved “validation”.
Along with that “validation” (as if it were needed), he also became only the second tournament poker player to have cracked the $10 million mark in career earnings with $10,274,627.
At the tables, Joseph is a consummate professional.
He has been able to harness the aggressive style that is necessary in today’s game to be a lethal force.
He also is adept at changing his game style which, added in with his expressionless concentration at the tables, makes reading him close to impossible.
Away from the tables, Joseph is a dedicated family man who looks to take care of his own before venturing to the tables.
He partakes in no other gaming other than poker and, along with 2004 World Champion Greg Raymer, has been two of the greatest ambassadors that the game has seen in recent history.
As 2007 begins, it is a given that we will see more of Joseph Hachem.
He will be heading back to his old stomping grounds of the Crown Casino in Melbourne for the 2007 Aussie Millions and should also be seen in many other WSOP and WPT events.
He has been one of the great things that Australia has given the world and, with hope, we will see Joseph Hachem continue to be at the forefront of the poker world for many years to come.