Because I'm Good, Son! Hevad Makes It RaiNKhan On These Pros

Hevad Khan
Hevad Khan playing on Day 3 of the 2007 WSOP Main Event

By now, you should have seen the video: a triumphant Hevad Khan, better known by his online alias "RainKHaN," responding to allegations that his online persona was computer-controlled by filming himself multi-tabling 26 single-table tournaments at once from the comfort of his dorm room.

The resulting video evidence erased all doubt of Khan's brilliance and the tape quickly attained legendary status in online communities. Then the 2007 Main Event of the World Series of Poker happened and a new kind of video evidence surfaced, this time providing irrefutable proof that Khan is a certifiable maniac, both on the table and in the gallery.

PokerListings.com talked to the sixth-place Main Event finisher after Day 1b at Foxwoods, where the SNG icon was more than happy to share his thoughts on strategy, table image and his new sponsorship deal with PokerStars.com.

First things first: how did your day go?

My day went very well. I chipped up consistently throughout the day with two to three relatively huge pots to help me jump to where I am right now, with $118,575 at the end of the day.

I had a very aggressive and very loose image and every time I had position in a hand I'd put in a raise and people called. I'd flop monsters and they'd pay me off with God knows what. So you can't ask for much more.

How was your table?

Hevad Khan
Taking over the table.

My table was friendly. My table was aggressive; it was tricky. I just got the best end of it. I think I picked my spots very well. I was very aware of my table image and that is probably the reason why I was confident in all of my decisions and all of my bets today.

Do you find now that the WSOP Main Event has been shown on TV that people have recognized you during your live play?

Oh, I mean every day since I've come to Foxwoods someone has recognized me. They say hi or they ask me things; I like it a lot. It gets me more social and more friendly with people. In general I think I play a better game if my table likes me and I like them. There's a respect and an understanding and you can kind of play off of that when you're playing the game.

During the Main Event you were pretty animated and bombastic but watching you today we've barely heard a peep. Is this you consciously playing with your table image or was it simply a case of being caught up in the moment during the World Series?

That's a very good question you bring up. A lot of people say, "Oh, well it's because it's on TV that you act that way," but they don't realize that [the Main Event] is the climax for someone my age to reach in tournament poker.

Hevad Khan
At the moment of climax.

The World Series was a great moment, but now I can really play my game and I don't really have to be an amateur any more. I can actually give it a shot and see if I was really just a lucky kid who played well but still is nothing compared to the best, or can I enjoy myself while I'm here, live my reputation out and play my best.

Before the Main Event you were best known as a multi-tabling Sit-and-Go phenom. Do you still grind it out on the SNGs or have you moved away from that style of poker?

I actually am converting to the live circuit; however, I am sponsored by PokerStars.com and I still play online regularly every day. I play tournaments; I'm a multi-table tournament specialist, that's what I play now. I play satellites - that's kind of sit-and-go poker and a tournament combined -, and I'm starting to make the transition into cash games too because I feel like there's a lot more you can learn about poker when you try all of the different formats.

I don't play SNGs anymore but PokerStars is still my home; it's still the place where I hone my mechanics. Actually, I do play SNGs: the Steps SNGs (satellites) to the PokerStars.com Caribbean Adventure which is coming up in a couple months. It's very easy to qualify; I usually start at the $200 level and build up. I don't like to buy-in directly.

Hevad Khan
SNG icon.

Do you find that it's been hard to make the transition from online play to live play? I imagine the demands on your attention span, in particular, must be much higher when you're playing live as opposed to multi-tabling online.

You know, I've had a lot of time to figure out why exactly it is that I've had a mental block in live play and it's basically that you get nervous when you're making your bets because you feel like people are grilling you, staring you down, but really what it boils down to is that people match bets, people play their cards and people play the board.

They play your image, too. It's not that you have to be tell-less and hold yourself in a strong composure, it's more the fact that whatever you're doing composure-wise, you have to keep doing that throughout your hands. Whatever you find is a comfortable position for you to sit and make bets and play your game, keep doing that and just play the game that you play online.

You mentioned your PokerStars.com sponsorship. Can you talk a bit more about that and what it's meant for your career?

It's meant a lot of publicity and media, obviously, from being on the team in general. I can't go into specific detail about the deal, but they take good care of me.

Hevad Khan
Poker Star.

Will we see you at European Poker Tour and APPT events in the future?

Right after this event is over, around the 22nd of November I'm going to the APPT-Macau tournament in China. After that I'm going to Five Diamonds at Bellagio and after that I'm going to the Bahamas for the PCA. After the PCA I'm going to the Aussie Millions and in between the Aussie Millions, the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo and the World Series I'll join a number of EPT events.

You were known as a professional Starcraft player before turning to poker. Can you talk about how you made the transition between video games and your poker career?

It was mostly a decision I made when I was in my final years at high school, when I realized that I was a competitive gamer who would soon be going to college. I was getting older, I wanted different things and there was a different social standard between my friends. Everyone was going to college and I had to make a choice.

Starcraft, if you want to be really good, you have to move to Korea and play with the Koreans because they're the top-notch Starcraft players, and I told myself I don't really want to spend my college years worrying about that. Your mind tells you stuff like that and you have to trust it because it's instinct.

Hevad Khan
From boy to man.

So I went to college and while I was in school I learned poker. And gradually as I learned I improved. I guess I could tell you that the one thing I attribute to going to school is that it taught me how to network better with people and in due course I was able to make good decisions, you know, good life decisions that a man needs to make.

Are there skills or techniques from your video game career that have proven beneficial to your poker play?

As a Starcraft player you have to learn how to manage your time well, to manage your clicks well, because it's always actions per minute. You have to build, you have to produce units, you have to attack, defend, you have to strategize.

It's all in a short amount of time, and how what I've learned from that applies to sit-and-go poker is that SNG poker is very mechanical. It's the same thing: you have to look at chip stacks, you have to look at blinds, you have to keep track of what position you are close to the money. And you can do many of these at once because on PokerStars there's no cap on how many SNGs you can play. It's perfect.

Hevad Khan
Innit to winnit.

What is your strategy going into tomorrow?

I'm going to play to win. I'm not going to do anything boneheaded and I'm going to make sure I'm aware of my image at all times, because I think what I've learned in the last couple of months is that your image dictates everything in a situation.

If you get called because you made a bluff, you can pretty much blame that on the fact that your opponents do not respect your image. Or, if they fold, you can attribute that to the fact that you made a good bet on the right street because you've been tight.

That makes a lot of sense. Thanks for your time Hevad and good luck tomorrow.

Thank you.

Hevad's schedule for the next few months, you'll be pleased to note, mirrors that of the PokerListings.com tournament reporting team. You'll be able to watch the one-time SNG maniac attempt a transition to live tournament play from Macau, Las Vegas, the Bahamas, Melbourne, Monte Carlo and wherever else the young strategist's road takes him just by keeping it locked on the PL.com. Before we get out our passports, however, we'll continue to keep you updated on Khan's pacing the field at Foxwoods as he tries to turn a stellar Day 1 into another sweet score.

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