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Lebanese Poker Championship, Day 1: Nicolas Zakhem Leads

LBC table felt

An overflow crowd gathered around the tables at the Casino du Liban in Adma, Lebanon for Day 1 of the inaugural Lebanese Poker Championship. Casino du Liban saw the record for the largest poker tournament in Lebanon shattered as 207 players put up $10,000 US for their shot at poker glory and a shot at taking out favorite son Joe Hachem. Hachem, who was born in Lebanon, threw a huge kickoff party the night before the event started.

Hachem was joined by several other notables who made the trip to Beirut for the event, including 2008 WSOP bracelet winner Nenad Medic, Raymond Rahme and Chris Karagulleyan as the chip hit the felt. The tournament staff set the capacity of the room at 200 players, but accepted a few extra entries to move some tables to ten-handed as play kicked off.

Coolers can happen at any time, regardless of location. Hassan Fares was reminded of that early on Day 1 when he ran pocket kings into Adham Homsi’s pocket aces. Homsi made a set on the river to double up and leave Fares with just 750 chips. Fares was unable to come back from that deficit and became the first elimination.

By the time the dinner break rolled around, 164 players remained, including Joe Hachem. Hachem’s tournament came to an end during the evening session, however when he was crippled on another cooler hand and then busted soon afterwards. Most of Hachem’s chips went across the table in a big three-way pot where Hachem turned trips on a board of {A-Diamonds}{2-Diamonds}{5-Hearts}{5-Diamonds}{6-Diamonds}, but he was behind both opponents, one who showed {K-Hearts}{8-Diamonds}, and another who scooped the pot with {Q-Clubs}{9-Diamonds} for the rivered four-flush. The champ open-shoved a few hands later with {A-Clubs}{10-Clubs}, and Adham Homsi woke up with {K-Spades}{K-Hearts} in the big blind and quickly called. Hachem hit an ace, but he was still drawing thin as the flop came down {4-Diamonds}{K-Diamonds}{A-Hearts}. When the turn and river blanked out {5-Diamonds}{9-Diamonds}, the former world champ was done.

116 players finished the day with chips, none of them better stacked than Nicolas Zakhem. Zakhem took over the chip lead in the evening and never let go as he became the first player over the 150,000 mark. His nearest opponents included Mark Demirijian, Baba Oum and Chris Karagulleyan. Nenad Medic and Raymond Rahme survived Day 1, but finished the day on short stacks.

Join PokerNews for all the live updates from Day 2 as the 116 survivors make their way closer to the final table and the biggest payday in Lebanese poker history.

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