Let Khan ‘Rain’
Online poker players have a lot to be proud of in 2007. Many of these up-and-coming players — like Hevad “Rain” Khan, Shain “Shaniac” Schleger and Justin Bonomo — came through the poker ranks on the Internet. They then distinguished themselves at the 2007 World Series of Poker (WSOP). While Internet players outnumber established pros by a wide margin, every great poker player to come will rise up from the Web.
Well, first off, the sheer number of Internet players — there are now more than 100 million players worldwide. Second, the learning curve is faster because of the number of hands played. For example, there are some Internet players — no more than 24 years old — who have played more hands than I have in my 25-year career! This is because you play roughly 25 hands per hour in the real world compared to 400 hands per hour (when playing four or more games at once) online. Third, there is so much information on how to play the game these days, from books and DVDs, to taped final tables where you can see all of the hole cards.
One of these young up-and-comers, “Rain” Khan, a highly-rated Internet tournament poker player, made it down to the final table in the main event. What I liked about “Rain” Khan was the fact that he was entertaining to watch. He did the “Robot” dance when he won a pot, he unleashed a guttural scream when he won another pot, and he celebrated wildly when he won another pot. When I watch poker, I love to be entertained by the personalities. Of course, I also love to watch the brilliant moves, the huge blunders and the drama that one single turn of the card can provide. Thanks to “Rain” Khan, the 2007 WSOP coverage on ESPN will be that much more entertaining for all of us to watch. Making it through 6,400 players is no easy feat, and I give him major credit for that — before I unfavorably break down a hand that he played.
With six players left at this year’s main event, with $8.25 million for first place, with ESPN taping every move and with the whole poker world watching, the following hand came down between Jerry Yang (not the Yahoo billionaire) and “Rain” Khan. With the blinds at $100,000-$200,000 and $59 million in chips, Yang opened for $1 million with J-J in early position. From the small blind, “Rain” Khan — with $9 million in chips — made it $5.5 million to go with As-Qs. Yang said, “Wow, I don’t think that I can fold this hand, how much to call?” Then Yang called the $4 million raise. As the dealer was about to deal the flop, “Rain” Khan said, “I move all-in before I see the flop.” As “Rain” Khan was stacking off his last $3.5 million in chips, the flop came down K-5-2. Yang shrugged his shoulders and said, “I call.” The next card was a four, and now “Rain” Khan needed an ace, a three or a queen on the last card to win the nearly $20 million pot, and stay in the tournament. When the last card was a five, “Rain” Khan finished in sixth place, and collected a hefty $956,000 for his efforts.
Let’s take a closer look at this hand.
First off, I was announcing this hand on ESPN pay-per-view along with Phil Gordon. Gordon said, “If you’re going to bet the last $3.5 million before the dealer flips up the cards, then why not move it all-in before the flop?” Good point. Why not bet the whole $9 million before the flop? Even more troubling to me was the fact that “Rain” Khan bet the last $3.5 million in the first place. I mean, Yang had more than $50 million in chips, and it looked like a certainty that he had “Rain” Khan beat (he called $4 million, and his comment was a huge sign of strength), and thus Yang was going to call no matter what the flop was. I mean, the pot had $16 million in it, it was only $3.5 million to call and Yang had more than $50 million in chips. Think Yang’s folding? I hate this $3.5 million bet. Going back to before the flop: I do not blame “Rain” Khan for reraising Yang pre-flop because Yang was raising a lot of pots, which implies that Yang was raising with a lot of weak hands. Still, why reraise $4 million and commit yourself to the hand? Why not reraise $2.5 million to $3 million? This way you can get away from the hand if you miss it (and save $5 million for a better spot), or at least save enough money to make a decent-sized bluff on the flop: after you actually LOOK at the flop.
Moving all-in without seeing the flop is:
A) usually not a strong play
B) gives away information about your hand
C) is a super-advanced play
D) all of the above.