Gaborone businessman, Nicolas Zakhem, became the 17th All-Africa Poker Champion last Sunday. With that came a R1 million cash prize, a Samsung Innovative and a World Series of Poker (WSOP) package valued at R150 000.
WSOP is the game’s most prestigious annual tournament and is held in Las Vegas in the United States.
As would be apparent from the currency sign, Zakhem’s big win happened at a big poker tournament that was held in South Africa. When the tournament started on May 21, he occupied seat 5 at table 4 and was just one of the crowd. The following day he began working his way up. In one hand he bet enough money to print hundreds of issues of this paper.
However, even then his chances of netting the big prize appeared to be very slim. On the second day, he was in the middle of the field and not even part of a group of players in commanding position. He soon asserted his authority and on Sunday night, beat Warren Zackery to claim first position. The latter won R 400 000, a Samsung Soul and a WSOP package valued at R150 000.
A week after his big win, Zakhem is still burning the Internet.
“Congratulations to the boisterous Nik Zakhem on his victory,” reads a message on the All Africa Poker channel. The boisterous Zakhem appears on the site holding up playing cards and not quite as ecstatic as an everyday person would be if they win that amount of money. The play-by-play record will not make sense to those who don’t play poker.
Zakhem’s win is described in the following terms: “His win with QQ will be remembered but not as well as the many times that he had JJ. Even more remarkable is that the Jacks held up every single time and eliminated players with an unprecedented consistency.”
Another message reads: “His cry of “they come in bunches,” referring to the great run of cards and very specifically his Jacks will go down in All Africa history along with his predecessors “Shot Boy.”
A consummate high roller, Zakhem appeared on Dstv’s poker channel not long ago as part of a group of people who were attending a ‘poker boot camp’ in the Caribbean. Away from gambling, Zakhem is a prominent player in Botswana’s construction industry. His introduction to the public was 10 years ago when he featured just as prominently in a corruption case as an accomplice witness.