2008 World Series: Seoul-Searching with Hevad Khan

At the World Series, there isn't such a thing as merely getting one's feet wet. If you dip in a toe, there's a good chance you're going knee deep without much more effort. Now donning our hip-waders, we're navigating the Rio and finding a number of people who have been up to their eyeballs in poker for the past three weeks. Today, many of them have chosen to do battle in the wildest of all waters: the $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em Rebuy event.

The rebuy period has just ended and players are off to take a break from the all-in-blind festival. As the players streamed toward the exit, I found Team PokerStars Pro Hevad Khan sitting at his table. I asked, for lack of a better question at the time, how his Series had been going while I had been gone.

"Awful," he said, dropping his head to the table.

I already knew the answer. Khan has had an unmemorable World Series. Or, better stated, he's had a World Series that has not been worth remembering. I should never have brought it up, especially after Khan had just taken one of the "that's poker" beats at the end of the level. If there's one thing you shouldn't do, it's remind a guy things haven't been going so well. I thought for a moment that I had just ended our breaktime interview before it started.

Less than one year ago, Khan was on top of the world, earning nearly a million bucks at the final table of the 2007 Main Event. Few things are going to compare to that, no matter how well his Series has been going. I kicked myself and decided to let Khan head off for his break.

Then Khan's head poped up with his trademark, beaming smile.


"Despite being 0-17, I feel great," he said. "I had a great weekend."

That is no lie. Khan finished second in the PokerStars Sunday Warm-Up. What's more, one of his horses did exceptionally well this weekend, too. That is, Khan made more money this weekend than most people make all year. Thus, the big smile.

More than that, though, Khan's been working on his game and focusing on its finer points. He spent some time with a friend in Seoul, Korea and has come here with his mind set on playing his best game, regardless of the results.

"I've been working on not being nervous at the table," he said. A more clever interviewer might have suggested less Red Bull. Instead, I merely wondered how Khan, one of the more pronounced presences at any tables could ever be nervous.

"Most of the time," Khan said, "I think everybody else is more scared at the table."

Scared, nervous, or just otherwise wrapped up in the everyday struggle that is the World Series, Khan seems like he is a good place, regardless. He has just a couple of minutes until he has to shift gears and start playing non-rebuy poker. And, I don't care who you are, after the rebuy period brawl, the transition to real poker is no easy task. For more with Khan, see the video blog below.

Watch WSOP 08: Hevad's Top Tips For WSOP Qualification on PokerStars.tv

Within the next hour, Joe Hachem will return to the room and fight for a seat at the $1,500 PLO Hi-Lo final table. Then, in a little more than two hours we'll see the elite of the poker world sit down for the $50,000 HORSE event.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker