WSOP Main Event: A contrast in personalities

wsop2009_thn.gifHevad Khan is the picture of a lobotomy.

Mechanical and working with a computer brain, every Khan movement is measured. Every raise is run through some internal algorithm you and I wouldn't understand. When he bets, it's like watching a beefy assembly line robot arm pick up chips and move them to another place. When the arm comes back, it stacks the winnings with the same control and automation.

This is not the bulldozer we knew in 2007.

Once a star for his hooting, hollering, dancing and screaming, Khan adopted what we have come to think of us the Labotomy Gambit. He never celebrates. He barely moves. When he is in hand, it looks as if he's injected himself with Thorazine.

A lot of players would have a hard time making the adjustment. Tableside personality is a big part of many top pros' games. For Khan, though, it's worked. He's won, and won, and won. Now he's winning again. Sitting in a conventional hall a short walk from the Amazon Room, Khan has quietly--nay, silently--tripled his stack during Day 1C. He's done it with the formidable Tuan Le sitting at his table--a foe with whom it's hard to make much progress unless you catch him bluffing. Khan, for his part, has made it work and is mechanically working his way toward the end of the night.

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Back in the Amazon Room, Joe Hachem is deep in the tank, but he's far from quiet.

"Are you feeling lucky?" he asks an all-in player. The player has raised, faced a re-raise from the 2005 WSOP champion, and moved all-in for a little more than 5,000 more.

"I feel like I am a very lucky man," says his opponent. "Either I get to win or I get busted by Joe Hachem. Are you going to slowroll me here?"

The ESPN cameras have moved in and Hachem is still thinking.

"Don't talk to Joe about slowrolls," says fellow Team Pro Maria Marinck. "He doesn't even know what you're talking about."

Finally, Hachem tosses in the call, and turns over 9♦9♥. He's up against A♣K♠.

"I thought you had me crushed," Hachem said.

"You have to call 5,000 and you're worried about pocket nines?" screams Mayrinck.

The dealer put out the flop.

"A nine in the door," said somebody else at the table. "So, sick."

An ESPN producer tried to slow down the dealer, but it seemed as if the woman wanted to stop dealing pain to the loser. She moved all with all speed.

"You did nothing wrong, sweetheart," Hachem said. "You put the nine on the board. Thank you."

Hachem's tablemates are starting to get ever-so-slightly cranky, primarily because he can't lose. Mayrinck complained, "Hachem makes every hand and everybody pays him off every hand."

On the very next hand, Hachem is in for another raise. Everybody folds. Hachem smiles and turns over pocket jacks.

"Joe 'The Cardrack' Hachem," he cracks.

Marinck can't believe it. "I'm just going to go. All the cards are going to Joe."

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Hachem leans across the table with a mock serious face to defend the necessity of his earning. "You know, I have four kids and 15 extended family..."

"And a bunch of kangaroos, right?" Mayrinck exclaims in only a way she can.

Hachem is unapologetic. When you're moving your stack really close to 100,000 on the first day of the WSOP, it means you don't have to say you're sorry. Trust us. There is a Hallmark card coming out with the exact same sentiment.

Eventually Hachem showed a moment of charity. He swapped 1% with Mayrinck.

She seemed satisfied.

* * * * *


Team PokerStars Pro William Thorson is out of the Main Event. He was down to 15,000 when he got his stack in with ace-nine versus ace-queen on an A-5-3-3 flop.


"Iwasupto60downto40(counts chips)noi'mbackto50.IhadafullhouseandhehadastraightbutIhadastraightonanotherhandandhechecksbehindifhecallsi'mmovingallinbuthedidn't.I'llstilldomybesttowinit." --- PokerStars' Thierry Van Den Berg relates his past seven hours of play in less than the time it take a dealer to shuffle a deck.


"And I told him, 'I don't care if you're God, you're not getting in here'." -- Security guard in the Amazon Room.


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