WSOP Main Event: It's a small table after all

Hevad Khan
Hevad Khan needed no introduction at the WSOP media event.

As a child living in the mountains of Laos years ago, Jerry Yang didn't have toys - not even a ball or a marble. Instead, when his parents butchered a pig they would blow up the animal's bladder for their children to bat around.

Today the 39-year-old father of six sits at the final table of the richest poker tournament in existence, in a position to win the $8.2 million first-place prize at the Alex Kravchenko also admitted to taking backers - though just a friend back home who has 2% of the unflinchingly stoic Russian.

The 36-year-old became his country's biggest poker star this year by winning a gold bracelet and final tabling the Main Event. Not bad for someone who considers himself a businessman first, cash-game player second.

Kravchenko, who has been playing the game for 10 years and lives in Moscow, was one of the players asked if he would consider making a deal once the table was whittled down.

"We didn't make any deal at this moment," he said, seeming not uninterested. "Is that allowed?"

Also on board for chopped pots in Tuan Lam, a 40-year-old professional poker player from Toronto, Canada who emigrated from Vietnam at the age of 19.

Though he's played poker for 10 years and made a living as a pro for the past four, Lam almost didn't make it to this year's Series. He had planned to go visit family in Vietnam during the Series, but at the last minute switched flights and hopped on a plane to Las Vegas.

Not such a big journey from Ontario, but for player Raymond Rahme, the distance was far greater. As the first African player to ever final table a WSOP Main Event, Rahme made the trek from Johannesburg, South Africa and dragged along his personal cheering section.

At the press conference, fans in bright green t-shirts that read, "All In for Africa - Everybody Loves Raymond" snapped photos of the friendly 62-year-old.

The retired bed and breakfast owner said he has been an amateur Hold'em player for two years now (he won his seat at a local tournament) but not to count him out.

"I'm playing for the gold now," Rahme said.

So was Lee Childs before he was eliminated in seventh place. Like Yang and Rahme, Childs has been an amateur player for the past few years. Unlike the men, however, he turned pro exactly one month before making the final table of the World Series Main Event.

The 35-year-old Restin, Va., man thanked God, his family and friends for coming to support him, and credited the tournament with having an excellent structure for players. But, still, one reporter posed to Childs, is the Main Event really just a lottery?

"In any tournament, it's that mixture of luck and skill that's going to get you there," he said, laying claim to some sick beats throughout the event.

Notably absent until the end of the press conference was Hevad Khan. Never one to shy from the limelight, the multi-table king didn't take the microphone or receive an introduction to the media but was camera-ready and standing in the hot television lights in his shirt at the wrap of the event. But no amount of media attention or crazy antics could save the man they call RaiNKhan, as he succumbed to the talents of Yang.

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