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by: Bluff Magazine.
Two months before the main event of the WSOP, my friends were discussing who was going to win the tournament – how that person was doing something at that very moment and had no idea what was about to happen to his (or her) life. This person would have a horseshoe stuck so far up his (her) ass and not even know it. This year, was Joseph Hachem.
by: Antonio Esfandiari

 The beautiful thing about tournament poker is that someone has to win.

I met Joe at the Borgata not long after he had won. We played a lot of cards and had a lot of laughs at the table. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of meeting Joe, believe me when I tell you he is genuinely a great guy. Since then, we have become pretty good friends, and one of the perks of being friends with the guy is sampling his wife’s cooking. The woman can COOK! Joe had luck on his side when he won the WSOP, but was even luckier to find a woman like Jeanie.

There was a big poker tournament coming up in Australia. Joe, an Aussie, told me that I had to go. Australia has always been somewhere I wanted to visit, but there were a number of major tournaments in January I did not want to miss. And if I was going all the way to Australia, I was going to stay for at least a couple of weeks. After some thought and deliberation and a great deal from the people at Crown, we were going Down Under!

I flew down with Kevin (Uncle Kev) and the lovely Victoria. We stopped off in Sydney for a week before arriving in Melbourne on the 12th. Sydney was absolutely amazing. The city is so beautiful. In a way, it was like a cleaner version of San Francisco – with A LOT more women!

Arriving in Melbourne, we were met at the airport by Carlene from the Crown Hotel, and my friend Nathan, a native of the city. I met Nathan in LA about a year ago. I was out partying and kept seeing this kid at parties that were extremely difficult to get into. We started chatting and soon I learned that he was a poker player from Australia. How he gets himself into these parties I will never figure out. Maybe it’s the black American Express card. I mean how does a 21-year-old kid get a black Amex, anyway? I was superimpressed with the Crown. It’s one of the best hotel casinos I’ve ever been to – very classy, yet very modern.

On our second day in Melbourne, the casino was taking all the big players on a golf trip. I’m no golf expert by any means; in fact, I have never golfed a day in my life! But everybody was going, so I couldn’t resist. After all, they were taking us to the most exclusive golf course in all of Australia! I think I got spoiled that day. I’m pretty sure that the average day of golf does not come with 20 Australian hotties giving shoulder massages in between holes. Golf will never be the same.

The tournament had over 400 entries at 10K Australian a pop. Not too shabby. What a great structure, too! The tables were eight-handed. And when it got down to 36, it was six-handed the rest of the way. It doesn’t really get better than that. Thank you to tournament director Danny McDonagh for putting together such a fantastic tournament.


Melbourne has great nightlife. One of the best nights of my life took place on this trip. I wish I could go into detail, but I probably shouldn’t. I can only imagine the hundreds of angry letters that would be written to the editors. Let’s just say that one night a group of us went out, massive amounts of booze were drank, and Victoria and I met some cool people. We had a crazy after party at our suite back at the hotel. I think it was Victoria, Noah Boeken, Nathan, David Wells and myself, along with six or seven Australian honeybunnies. One of them was a girl named Francesca. She will forever remain in my memory banks.

Throughout our entire trip to Australia, we had a no swear bet. Anytime any one of us said the f-word, we had to drop and do 20. I have been trying to work on my vocabulary, and what better way to do so? Uncle Kev, Nathan, Joe Hachem, Noah, David Wells and I were all in the bet. It didn’t matter where we were or what we were doing, if we dropped the f-bomb we had to drop and do 20. Poor Kevin must have done 900 push ups in Australia, none of which were at the gym; but instead at random places, like restaurants or the airport or in the casino. It was so funny. One time, David had to do push ups on the sidewalk of a busy street as people walked by and glanced over at the weirdo doing push ups on the street. I would say out loud, “What are you doing, man? Have you lost your mind?”

Overall, I had an amazing trip to Australia. If there were one place I could live besides the U.S., it would definitely be there. I just wish they would drive on the right side of the street! And if you want lemonade, you’d better not ask for lemonade, because you’ll get a Sprite! Yes, you heard me correctly; they call Sprite lemonade.

For all of you who like poker and have never been to Australia, I strongly recommend you make the trip next January. You will not be disappointed.

Thank you again to Carlene Blake, Kathryn Farrell, Kenna and Danny McDonagh for making this trip one that I will never forget, for so many reasons!


(© 2006 BluffMagazine. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed)

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