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Tournament Trail Q & A: Hevad 'Rain' Khan

Khan Talks About Multitable Tournaments, Bankroll Management, and His Growth as a Poker Player

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Hevad "Rain" Khan has gone from a multitable online tournament presence to a live tournament professional. He has built on his success at the 2007 World Series of Poker main event and gained respect on the live tournament circuit through consistent finishes. The most recent of these took place in the Bahamas, where he finished in 45th place at the European Poker Tour PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. Card Player caugt up with Khan at the World Poker Tour Doyle Brunson Classic, and here is what he had to say about his poker strategy and experience up to this point.

Hevad 'Rain' KhanRyan Lucchesi: When you're faceing a tough table, like you are today [at the DBC], how much of a factor does that play in your strategy?

Hevad "Rain" Khan: I would say that the table was tough, but I had good position, so I was manipulating it as well as I could. I had aces and some other good, big hands, but every time I played them and I hit something, I got no action because they're smart players. So, it does play into it a lot, because when you do run good, you also need them to hit something, because they’re better [players]. So, they have to run bad against you running good.

RL: On the flip side of that, if you were at a soft table, how would you play?

HK: It would depend on if they’re going to call, and if they’re going to give up on flops unless they hit. Do they call and play backs on flops? Some people like to play back preflop. Some people will just keep blinding out and only get aggressive when they’re short. Mostly, I like to sit there and figure out my opponent before I attack, because I believe when you just attack, you’re basing it on short-term luck, even though you think that you’re good.

RL: So, no matter what the situation, you like to observe your opponents to see what you’re up against?

HK: Absolutely, that’s what makes it a skill game.

RL: How much do you change your strategy when you’re playing online versus live?

HK: I try and incorporate both strategies when I play live. You have to make sure you’re not hanging out in your chair … because when I’m online, and I hit a big hand, I’m like ohhh … I rub my hands together and I feel happy. But you have to control that and stay disciplined. I also think you need to maintain a good attitude when you’re playing live, because if you don’t keep a good attitude and you're nervous, your tells will be a lot more transparent.

RL: What’s the largest amount of online poker tables you have played on at one time?

HK: When I was a sit-and-go player, my experiment was that I did 43 without timing out. I was regularly playing about 32-38 though, every day. Two hundred sit-and-gos per day for a year.

RL: That is crazy … if you’re playing that many tables at the same time, are you making all of your decisions solely based on starting hands and position?

HK: Absolutely, it’s was really just ABC. It was mostly just a get-rich-quick scheme … I did that, and then I started to play less and focus more. It’s been a really gradual transition, but the main idea is that I’ve been playing so much poker that I started learning much more quickly than other pros because I’ve played so many hands.

RL: Do you think that the massive number of hands you have played gives you an advantage over other players who have been around the game longer, but don’t play online?

HK: Absolutely, because with experience comes confidence. Whereas some people may be naturally good, because they are talented strategy-wise. But when you play so much, and you’re unconfident, it doesn’t matter because you’re playing so much that it’s just second nature to you.

RL: Do you enjoy a slower-paced game, where you get to stretch your psychological muscles a little more and analyze players?

HK: When you get better at the game, you begin to appreciate better tournament structures. When you start to get better, you start to appreciate more skill, because you start to see how much your skill weighs into your profit, and you’re like, wow, man, I don’t want any more gambling.

RL: What’s been the largest adjustment you have had to make in your transition from online to live play?

HK: It was the big [money] jump in the World Series, all that money I had. And then, now that I have that money and it’s safely being invested, I can [try to] satellite [into events] and not even worry if I don’t satellite in, because I can still buy in regardless. So, now I can always play and I can always travel and not worry about it, because money's not really a problem, because I don’t spend my money on anything.

RL: How important is bankroll management?

HK: It’s very important, but a lot of people still can’t grasp that concept when you say it’s very important. A lot of people just blow it off. The main thing to remember is that people think there is a lot of pride and honor in just buying into a tournament that it puts them above a lot of people. I completely disagree, because at the end of the day, when you lose and you tell your buddy, who is still in the tournament, about your A-K losing to J-10 all-in for a huge pot, he’s not going to care. He’s still sitting there, and you're sitting there like "Oh, he doesn’t care … the only thing that happened is I lost a $15K buy-in." You need to erase that, so when you lose, you were just playing your best game and you weren’t worried about shipping a lot of money. So, I still grind satellites … I’ll play online to build money, and that can be my satellite. It’s about the money I can make in between the tournaments; that’s really where the real money is, you know. When you win a tournament, it’s like a lottery; you can pinpoint three or four hands as to why you won, but the better you get, the more deep finishes you’re going to have.