Team PokerStars Pro’s Hevad “RaiNKhaN” Khan’s ride through the 2007 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event sparked controversy around the industry. “The Bulldozer” and other dances became staples of the poker world and brought about the aptly-named “Hevad Khan Rule” addressing excessive celebrations. Khan sat down with Poker News Daily to talk about what role celebrating has in the game of poker, if any.
Poker News Daily: What did WSOP officials say to you following the 2007 WSOP Main Event? What was your reaction?
Khan: They just made a rule. If I wanted to, I would have kept celebrating, but I didn’t. Think about it from a Tom Green perspective. If you do something like that again, it’s expected, but it came out because that was really me. When I celebrated after a hand, it had happened and it was natural. I believed in the moment. To do it again would be like I’m dragging for attention.
PND: So celebrating like that was just how you are as a person?
Khan: Yes, especially when I play video games. I’m sitting there in the movie theater in my basement and when I take out a boss in a video game, I’ll go nuts. It was down to 30 people during the 2007 WSOP and was thinking, “I’m doing this.” The WSOP Main Event is the only tournament where you can get everything out of the Great American Dream. People usually work several years in their career, go to college, encounter hardships, and so on just to realize that. I loved poker and was able to accomplish it.
PND: What’s wrong with celebrating at the tables? It’s quite common in other sports like football and soccer.
Khan: Nobody really hated what I did. They made the rule because there are a billion idiots who could have emulated what I did. That’s bad when you have stupid people with no bounds who will take it to an obtuse level. I acted up because of the situation. ESPN knew that it’s America and people were going to see me and think that it’s okay to do what I did. It would bring the wrong people into the picture, which would be a problem.
PND: Do other tournament series have more lax rules regarding player celebrations than the WSOP?
Khan: When I was in London in 2008, I lost a pot to Vanessa Rousso during an EPT tournament. I honored a prop bet that I had to wear a robe at the table. I sat down and the owner of the casino told me to wear regular clothes or else they would kick me out of the tournament and confiscate my buy-in. That was a wake up call for how strict the rules outside of the United States are. I feel like they’re more aggressive against foreigners.
PND: Does removing the ability to celebrate eliminate the human side of poker?
Khan: Not at all; it’s all mental. People can celebrate all they want, but there’s so much consequence to it now. A lot of people aren’t as impulsive as I am, so they’d think about it before celebrating in a hand and are more probably well-rounded than I was. In my opinion, people can do whatever they want as long as I am not affected.
PND: Jamie Gold has mentioned that he can’t verbally manipulate his opponents as much as he used to at the tables due to new tournament rules. Where do you stand on that?
Khan: Talking in poker is overrated. Jamie Gold was playing very crazy and sporadic, making huge bluffs. In the scheme of things, Jamie was playing aggressive. When I see something like that, I think the cards are determining everything and they’re merely justifying why a person is winning a pot. If Jamie is saying that he can’t manipulate people, I’d say that he did so in 2006 because he had a big chip stack or a run of hands. The cards are determining the situation. To get that far, you have to run good and all of that. There is momentum in poker.