Posts Tagged ‘Joe Hachem’

Big One Champ Dan Colman: Idealistic or Idiot?

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

If Joe Hachem thought that young poker pros weren’t doing enough to promote the game, then he must really be fuming at Dan Colman. The 24-year-old poker player recently won the 2014 WSOP Big One for One Drop along with $15,306,668.

After his victory, Colman refused to do the usual winner’s interviews and needed some convincing before he was willing to take some pictures. Even then, he wasn’t going to smile for the photos, almost like a 5-year-old kid whose mom insists that they take a family photo. Everything up to this point had the poker world asking, “What’s wrong with this guy?”

Well, according to a TwoPlusTwo post, Colman essentially believes that poker, and gambling in general, can lead to misery for recreational players. Furthermore, he doesn’t believe in expressing individual accomplishments such as winning the biggest poker prize of 2014.

There are some valid points mixed in this letter, but perhaps they’d be best expressed by an anti-gambling activist – not some fresh-faced poker pro who just collected $15.3 million from a tournament and has made a very good living from the game. The whole thing reeks of the ole’ I’m-in-college-attaining-higher-learning-so-I-know-everything attitude.

One of the opening statements of Colman’s post is “I have played it (poker) long enough to see the ugly side of this world.” Ignoring the fact that Colman is just 24, let’s switch to a much more-experienced player in Daniel Negreanu. The 39-year-old finished second to Colman in the Big One for One Drop and issued a response at his Full Contact Poker blog.

Negreanu doesn’t have a scathing opinion of Colman as I or some other writers do. In fact, he finds “nobility” in the young player’s ideals and agrees with the sentiment that most people will be losers in poker. However, Negreanu also explains that there are millions who strive to be a professional golfer, NBA basketball player, hockey professional or an NFL football player – only to fail in their pursuit. The entire post is really good, but I’ll leave you with one great excerpt:

Poker, and more specifically poker tournaments are a competition no different than any other competition. The cream rise to the top, make the most money, and the vast majority whether its pool, tennis, basketball, golf, the restaurant business, etc. fail. Capitalism as a system allows people to strive for big success in whatever career they choose.

Daniel opened his statement with “I don’t owe poker anything.” No, I guess not, but I would look at it differently Daniel: GRATITUDE! Being thankful that you found a game you both love to play and are also good enough so that you can make a life for yourself. You don’t owe poker anything, sure, but poker has given you a lot. The camera crew filming the event, the dealers, floor staff, Caesars, the WSOP, ESPN, PokerStars.com for giving you an opportunity to support yourself, the players that came before you and did spend time promoting a game you would have likely never heard about. You don’t owe poker, or me personally anything, much like when a waitress brings your order, you don’t owe her a tip or even a thank you. It’s just a gracious custom, much like doing a winners interview…

I applaud Daniel for wanting to live his life with a higher consciousness and looking more deeply at the bigger picture. I support that, and his right to decline interviews 100%. I also think people are being too harsh on him. He is young, and I’m not saying that in a condescending manner, just at the age of 24 life is just beginning, your views on the world, the questions you have, are just starting to form. I’m not the same person I was when I was 24, and I certainly don’t hold the same views I did when I was 24.

Greg Merson looking to promote Himself and Poker More

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

As has been discussed many times over the past few months, Joe Hachem thinks that poker has a problem, and it starts with WSOP Main Event champs and younger pros. Greg Merson definitely saw Hachem’s rant and it’s forced the 2012 Main Event champ to rethink his views on everything from playing tournaments to interviews.

Bluff Magazine recently caught up with Merson and talked to him about what Hachem said. While the 26-year-old doesn’t feel like Hachem specifically targeted him, he did ask the Aussie about the comments. And Merson came to the conclusion that Hachem may have misunderstood how much he loves playing poker.

In the interview, which you can see below, Merson explains how he didn’t win the Main Event in an era where these champions are immediately sponsored and paid to play the tournament circuit. He adds that it’s not worth it to play in $3,500 and $5,000 events when there’s $2k – $3k in added travel costs.

Merson would much rather play live cash games, where he makes the most profits. However, he does indicate that he’s come around to the idea of playing in tourneys and promoting the game more. Merson also discusses how he spent time with Phil Hellmuth, “picking his brain” about self promotion.

Another point that Merson’s come around to is doing more interviews, even though they may not pay off immediately. The young poker pro now realizes that doing interviews and more promotional work can pay dividends in the future – both for himself and for the game in general. He also states the importance of signing autographs and taking pictures with poker fans when asked.

You can expect to see more of Merson on the tournament circuit in the near future. Aside from everything that we’ve discussed so far, he also says that it’s harder for good pros to get in big cash games these days. So he’d like to play more tournaments this summer.

Jonathan Duhamel responds to Hachem’s Comments on WSOP Ambassadorship

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

One subject that’s frequently come up this year is the level of responsibility that WSOP Main Event champions bear in regard to making poker fun/inviting. Joe Hachem is the one who kicked this discussion off when he said that Main Event champs need to be ambassadors for the game. He specifically called out Jamie Gold and Jerry Yang for “destroying the legacy of the world champion.”

He didn’t elaborate, but we can only assume that Hachem thinks both players have done a poor job of promoting poker after winning the Main Event. The Aussie may also think that Gold’s ME bracelet being auctioned off and Yang’s tax troubles have further tarnished what it means to be a champ.

In any case, 2010 WSOP Main Event winner Jonathan Duhamel recently gave his take on ME champs and young players in general. Writing from his PokerStars blog, Duhamel doesn’t totally agree with Hachem, but he does point out that everybody bears some kind of responsibility in making poker fun and keeping recreational players around. He wrote the following two excerpts in his post:

Joe mentioned Jamie Gold and Jerry Yang in his comments (who won in 2006 and 2007) and how those two kind of disappeared from the poker scene after winning their titles, but to me that’s not necessarily good or bad. Sometimes a career in poker is not for everyone, especially for guys who have other jobs or families as can be the case for players who are a little older. Not everyone who wins the WSOP Main Event wants to tour all of the time or continue playing tournaments, and that is absolutely their choice.

(cont’d later) So Joe’s making a call to everyone — Main Event champions, young players, and those with more experience, too — to keep in mind when playing live to be friendly and do what we can to make sure everyone is having fun. Obviously the recreational players aren’t going to come back if they don’t have fun, and that hurts not just them but everyone.

Duhamel also cited posts that he liked from Daniel Negreanu and Phil Galfond, two more guys who present broader visions for what can keep poker entertaining.

The overall takeaway from Duhamel’s post is that all successful pros need to work at keeping both profits and fun in mind. After all, if the recreational players don’t keep coming back, the dead money drives up in poker and you’ll have less available profits, smaller game selection and a poker world that looks more like 2001.

Should Poker really be covered like Winter Olympics?

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

It’s been about a week since Joe Hachem gave his interview on how WSOP Main Event champions need to step up their ambassadorship efforts. And the discussion hasn’t stopped, with Daniel Negreanu recently bringing up an interesting perspective on poker television coverage.

Negreanu thinks that ESPN and 411 Productions could learn a thing or two from how NBC presents the Winter Olympics. As KidPoker pointed out through twitter, casual viewers aren’t exactly on a first-name basis with winter sports athletes. So NBC does a good job of focusing on athletes’ backstories. Here’s a sample of what Negreanu tweeted:

Winter Olympics provide a great example. Public doesn’t know the people or the sports but with great story telling fans & stars are created.

Much of the poker boom should be credited to ESPN and 411 Productions who spent time developing stars of poker. We have gotten away from it.

There is something interesting about EVERYONE! It’s up to the production team to find out what that is, then sell it to the public.

I have ALWAYS believed the focus should never be on the game, but on the characters who play it. We waste time appeasing the wrong demo.

Global poker numbers don’t seem to suggest that the game’s popularity is immediately dying off. However, Negreanu and other pros don’t feel like this popularity is sustainable if personality and interesting backstories aren’t brought back into the fray.

But it’s worth mentioning that, over the past five years or so, tournament TV coverage has been catering to more of a hardcore audience. So to revert back to how WSOP coverage was presented in the mid-2000’s and earlier would be a huge change. And not everybody is a fan of this either. Isaac Haxton is one of them, as you can see from the following tweets:

@RealKidPoker Comparing poker to the Olympics is perfect… if you want poker to be like snowshoeing, which people only watch every 4 years

@RealKidPoker But for something that is on tv consistently every week like other popular sports, in-depth analysis is completely appropriate

@RealKidPoker Poker lends itself to serious analysis on TV even more so because so many fans of the game play poker competitively themselves

@RealKidPoker Furthermore it’s insulting to the viewers to assume that they can’t or don’t want to understand the real mechanics of the game

@RealKidPoker More serious doesn’t have to mean less fun. TV commentary can be sophisticated while still being lighthearted and entertaining

Haxton brings up a good point too. However, the question here is what’s more important to a long-term sustainable poker population? Serious pros who understand check-raise analysis, or casual observers who keep filtering into the game and mostly serving as fish?

But as Haxton stated, maybe there’s a good way to blend sophisticated strategy talk along with jokes and lighthearted content. If so, ESPN really needs to add more of the latter if they want poker to continue growing.

Joe Hachem thinks “Poker is Dying” – Is He Right?

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Earlier this week, 2005 WSOP Main Event champ Joe Hachem discussed the current state of poker during the Aussie Millions. And what he had to say about poker wasn’t exactly glowing.

After reflecting on past WSOP Main Event winners, which included ripping on Jamie Gold and Jerry Yang for ruining the champions’ legacy, he expressed his opinion that “poker is dying.” The reason why he believes this? Because Hachem thinks that the game is no longer fun for amateurs, with “young geniuses” bumhunting all of the fish and not offering up any interesting conversation.

The Aussie also mentioned how there are less Antonio Esfandiari’s out there, or rather guys whom the fish love to play with, even when they’re losing money. He added that watching poker on television is “like watching paint dry” because of the lack of personalities today. Furthermore, poker TV shows no longer focus on a pro’s style, personality or what they’re like away from the table. He closed by saying that some of the young ME champs like Ryan Riess and Greg Merson need to think about all of this since they’re ambassadors to the game.

So is Hachem right about everything that he said? You can’t argue with the point that poker is full of bumhunters these days, who play seek and destroy with the fish. The game also features less dynamic grinders who make poker more enjoyable to watch on TV.

But on the other hand, nothing Hachem said is an original idea. He’s just another person to jump on the fact that poker has transitioned into a more strategy-focused, mathematical game, where you either pour hours into becoming great, or you lose your bankroll and dignity.

As for if poker is dying, well, global online numbers suggest that plenty of people are still interested in playing. And this should continue as new markets open up across the world. But the live realm is still a big part of poker, and if famous pros don’t start developing some personality and social skills at the table, it will eventually hamper online poker too.

Jay Farber could be First Amateur WSOP ME Winner since Yang

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

When the 2013 WSOP Main Event final table was formed back in July, one name really stood out above the rest: Jay Farber.

Farber’s name didn’t stand out because of his WSOP gold bracelets or WPT titles – both of which he has none. Instead, the Las Vegas nightclub promoter was notable because he’s the biggest amateur at the 2013 ME final table.

Given this fact, few people expected Farber to have a serious shot at the Main Event title – let alone be one of the remaining two finalists. But alas, he’ll compete against another player whom few people gave a chance, Michigan State graduate Ryan Riess.

Following the elimination of bigger names like Amir Lehavot and JC Tran earlier, Farber and Riess will square off heads-up to decide who’ll earn the $8.36 million top prize. Farber currently holds the chip lead with 105,000,000, but Riess isn’t far off with 85,675,000. Given the fairly even chip counts, we can likely expect another marathon heads-up battle later today (Nov. 5th) at the Rio.

Both players have a large contingent of supporters on the rail, but one can’t help but pull for Farber in this scenario. After all, he’s looking to become the first amateur ME winner since Jerry Yang did it back in 2007. And assuming Farber can duplicate this amateur-to-WSOP-champ rise, it would make for a great story….a story which could inspire thousands of recreational players to take up the game.

Contrast this to Riess, who’s your typical college-to-online-poker-pro story. The 23-year-old, who found online poker during his MSU days, seems like a pretty cool guy. But on the other hand, young-internet-pro stories just don’t attract people to the game like amateur champions do.

This being said, it’ll certainly be fun to see if Farber can hold on to his chip lead and give the poker world another amateur champ. Make sure to catch the coverage today on ESPN2, which starts at 9:00 ET.

Joe Hachem: From PokerStars to AsianLogic

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

2005 WSOP Main Event champion Joe Hachem definitely raised some eyebrows when he chose not to renew his sponsorship/endorsement contract with PokerStars. Seeing as how PokerStars is the world’s biggest poker site, one would think he’d have stayed put here.

Then came the rumors that the Aussie had signed on with a little known Merge Gaming Network site known as HahaPoker. This definitely got people talking because of the disparity of the move from PokerStars to HahaPoker. However, this has definitely been proven as a rumor following Hachem’s announcement that he will be signing with the AsianLogic Group.

If you’re unfamiliar with AsianLogic, they are best known for operating the Asian Poker Tour, and they also provide software services for online poker sites and other gaming entities. As for Hachem’s role within this company, he shed a little light on the subject by saying, “I am delighted to announce that I have decided to partner with a consortium comprising the AsianLogic Group and some of their contemporaries.” He added, “I will be working with the group in several areas, initially as a new ambassador for the Asian Poker Tour to further the growth of poker and to assist them with several strategic opportunities in Australia and the Asia Pacific region.”

AsianLogic’s chairman, Tom Hall, expanded on Hachem’s role with his company by saying, “Joe brings much more to the table than just his poker playing skills. His knowledge and understanding of the gaming industry both domestically and internationally will be invaluable to us going forwards.” He also said, “The Asian Poker Tour is already widely recognized as Asia’s only independent tour and we feel Joe will be able to help us expand this business. AsianLogic and its partners are also involved in a number of poker and gaming projects and Joe is helping us with some of these, particularly those in Australia and New Zealand.”

It’s no surprise that Joe Hachem would sign a sponsorship deal so quickly since he’s not only the 2005 WSOP Main Event winner, but also ninth in career poker tournament winnings with $11,342,508. Considering that almost $3.9 million of this has come away from the Main Event winnings, Hachem is definitely one of the most successful ME winners of all-time.

2011 WSOP Final Table is True International Affair

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Over the past decade, we’ve seen plenty of international players make deep runs in the WSOP Main Event. Joe Hachem (Australia, 2005), Peter Eastgate (Denmark, 2008) and Jonathan Duhamel (Canada, 2010) are all non-American Main Event winners who perfectly illustrate this fact. However, we have yet to see a WSOP Main Event that’s featured as many global participants as the 2011 Main Event. The non-US players involved include Martin Staszko (Czech Replublic), Eoghan O’Dea (Ireland), Badih Bou-Nahra (Belize), Anton Makiievskiy (Ukraine), Piuz Heinz (Germany), Samuel Holden (United Kingdom), while the Americans include Phil Collins, Matt Giannetti and Ben Lamb.

As you can see, a rare occurrence has happened where US players are outnumbered 2-1 on the Main Event final table. If you’re good at math, you can see that there’s a two-thirds chance that an international player will win the world’s biggest poker tournament this year. But no matter who wins, the number of people who’ve flown to Las Vegas from different countries is pretty impressive.

Looking at things from an even bigger perspective, the final table makeup perfectly exemplifies how global poker has become with six players joining the November Nine. After all, it’s not exactly cheap for pros to fly to Sin City for this poker extravaganza, and the buy-ins don’t make things any more affordable.

Even still, thousands of international players have anted up $1k, $3k, $5k and $10k buy-ins to play in the 2011 WSOP. And you can definitely count on this trend continuing – especialy in the Pot Limit Omaha sector, where Europeans seem to have claimed this game for their own. Getting back to the subject, it will be interesting to see if we have yet another non-American Main Event winner come November.