2007 World Series: RaiNKhaN meet Gus, Gus meet RaiNKhaN

An ESPN producer was hovering over RaiNKhaN as the big guy tried to rack up his towers of chips. It was only a matter of time before the table broke and the time had come just as ESPN had really gotten into taping a segment on the PokerStars SNG king.

"I need another rack," RaiNKhaN said, grabbing for a third plastic chip tray and stuffing his chips in with big handfuls.

"How did you learn to play poker?" the producer ask.

RaiNKhaN looked sideways at him. The look said, "Are you serious?" Then he tried to answer. "I started playing five card draw with some friends." RaiNKhaN then got distracted by his rack. He resumed. "Well, I got some money from my father. He became a senior citizen..." He stopped again, not sure that was the story he wanted to tell either. He looked up. "I started playing forty tournaments at the same time."

This seemed to be the end of the story as RaiNKhaN pulled his large frame out of the chair and started searching for Table 25. The ESPN producer trailed, asking "Is this your first World Series?"

RaiNKhaN either didn't hear or chose not to answer. He had a new table to devour and it was all the way across the room.

"It's his second," I told the producer and took a shortcut to Table 25. I got there to see the six seat empty. That was where RaiNKhaN would eventually sit down. I figured his 280,000 or so in chips would be the biggest stack at the table, until I saw the seven seat.

© Neil Stoddart

I was laughing out loud by the time RaiNKhaN had made this way through the crowd. I nodded toward the seven seat and laughed again. Sitting in the chair behind a mountain of chips was Gus Hansen.

A wide smile broke across RaiNKhaN's face. He always smiles, but this smile was different. It wasn't a "Hey, I get to sit next to a famous guy" grin. It wasn't a nervous, "Damn, I can't believe he's on my left" smile.

It was a "Holy schnikes, look at all those chips I can eat!" smile.

© Neil Stoddart

If you're just catching up, RaiNKhaN is one of many PokerStars Supernovas out here leading the good life. PokerStars threw the 'Novas a big party to kick off the World Series and has been treating them pretty well ever since. RaiNKhaN is one of the SuperNovas trying to pay PokerStars back for the favor. Every day he has played so far he has been decked out in a custom SuperNova PokerStars shirt with his screen name embroidered on the front. What's more, he's playing like he's on a mission to win this thing yesterday.

I was curious to see how RaiNKhaN would handle sitting down immediately on Hansen's right. Would he tighten up, go crazy, or start picking his spots?

"Can I get in now?" he asked the dealer and tossed his 200 ante into the middle.

"I wish you'd gotten in the last one," Hansen said. I didn't know what it meant, but I swear Hansen was looking at RaiNKhaN's chips.

RaiNKhaN hadn't removed his chips from his racks when his first hand at Table 25 landed in front of him. Indeed, on his very first hand, RaiNKhaN popped it for a raise.

Hansen looked at him, looked at his chips, and folded. So did everyone else. Then the table newcomer looked up at me and flashed a pair of kings.

Who runs this good?

Chances are these guys won't end up spending a lot of time together. I figure their table will break sometime after the dinner break. In the meantime though, it's The Great Dane vs The Rain King / Freshmaker / RaiNKhaN.

It's the type of thing I'd almost pay money to watch.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in