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Poker News | Casino Poker | Tournament Reports

2008 Caesars Palace Classic

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2008 Caesars Palace Classic
Caesars Palace Las Vegas

Championship Event
No-Limit Hold’em
Buy-In:  $10,000
Number of Entries:  311
Total Prize Money: $2,956,366
October 30, 2008

Official Tournament Notes:

•    The 2008 Caesars Palace Classic champion is Hevad Khan, from Poughkeepsie, NY.  He is a 23-year-old professional poker player.

•    Khan is best remembered for his sixth-place finish in the 2007 World Series of Poker Main Event.  During that tournament, Khan’s ceaseless unchecked enthusiasm resulted in the adaptation to what is now called an “excessive celebration rule.”  Some call it the “Hevad Khan Rule.”

•    Since then, Khan’s tournament demeanor has become considerably more subtle.  He rarely celebrates winning hands or leaves his seat during play.

•    Those who know Khan well regard him as a highly-intelligent young man with deep personal convictions.  His emergence onto the poker scene 18 months ago distracted the public’s attention away from the person Khan really is, and has become.  Khan now travels around the country and around the world, playing tournament poker.

•    Khan went through a personal change several months ago when he was vacationing in Korea.  “I discovered myself there,” Khan said.  “I came back a different person.”

•    Khan spent a number of years developing his poker skills playing on his home computer.  He became such a prodigy that he was able to play 20 games at once.  Khan once recorded himself playing in 26 poker games simultaneously on his computer.

•    Hevad Kahn’s poker nickname is “Rainkhan.”

•    This was Khan’s second major tournament victory.  He also won an event at the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut.  He now has over $2.5 million in lifetime tournament winnings, all accumulated within the past two years.

•    First place paid $1,000,000 in prize money.  This is one of the few poker tournaments anywhere in the world in which the host casino guarantees at least $1,000,000 to the winner.

•    Khan also collected a three-foot tall hand-crafted crystal trophy, emblazoned with “Caesars Palace Classic Champion” on its base.  He was also presented with an exclusive men’s timepiece from the fine Swiss watchmaker Breitling.  The victor’s price, a Chrono Cockpit luxury model is valued at over $15,000.

•    This is the second annual Caesars Palace Classic.  Last year’s inaugural championship event attracted 287 entries.  Despite a sluggish economy and concerns about Las Vegas going through a down period, the poker action at Caesars Palace continues to grow as 311 players entered the $10,000 buy-in championship event.  This figure represents a 9.2 percent increase in attendance over the previous year.  

•    The 2008 Caesars Palace Classic included 17 tournaments, four more than were offered last year.  Poker Room Manager Jim Pedulla explained that Caesars is aggressively bringing in a wider variety of poker players – particularly those who enjoy games other than Hold’em.  This year’s tournament included events in Pot-Limit Omaha, Limit Hold’em, Omaha High-Low, H.O.R.S.E., Heads-Up Hold’em, Mixed Games, and Six-Handed Hold’em.  Few major tournaments other than the World Series of Poker offer as wide a variety of poker tournaments.

•    To give a greater sense of perspective on numbers and prize money at the Caeasars Palace Classic:  The number of events, entrants, and total prize money for this year’s tournament is about equal to prizes and number of players at the 1997 World Series of Poker.

•    Caesars Las Vegas has a long and well-established history of supporting poker tournaments.  During the 1980s, Caesars Palace hosted the second most-prestigious poker tournament series in the world (after the WSOP), and was the site of some of the greatest poker feats of all-time.  Amarillo Slim’s annual Super Bowl of Poker was a regular fixture at Caesars for nearly a decade.  Poker legend Stu Ungar won two of his three Super Bowl of Poker titles at Caesars Las Vegas.

•    Last year’s Caesars Palace Classic champion was David Singer, from Las Vegas, NV.  Singer entered this year’s tournament but was eliminated on the first day.

•    The championship event was played over a three-day span.  Due to the large field size, each of the three days went longer than expected.  Day 1 lasted about 14 hours.  Day 2 also went about 14 hours.  On Day 3, 19 survivors played down to the final table, which was seated at about 6 pm.  The final table lasted about nine hours and concluded at 3:10 am.

•    The runner up was Los Angles poker pro Michael Kamran, who was seeking his first major tournament win.  He earned a nice paycheck totaling $520,320.

•    Heads-up play lasted nearly three hours.  Kamran had Khan outchipped by a 5-2 margin at one point.  But he was not able to defeat the patient Khan, who later quipped, “I told myself I would never give up in this tournament.  If I was going to be knocked out, it was going to be when I had the best hand going (into the confrontation).”

•    Texan Gary Friedlander took third place.  Friedlander has cashed in 3 of the last for WSOP Main Events.  He qualified to play in this tournament by winning his seat in a mega-satellite.

•    Local poker pro Jonathan Aguiar finished in fourth place.

•    Fifth place went to Joseph Cordi, a 58-year-old retiree from Whittier, CA.

•    Adam Junglen finished in sixth-place.  At age 21, Junglen is one of poker’s most promising young stars.  He has already made a final table at WSOP-Europe (last month) and has earned over a million dollars playing tournament poker.

•    Former pool hustler turned poker pro Johnny “World” Hennigan took seventh place.  Hennigan won a WSOP gold bracelet in Limit Hold’em in 2004.  He also won a World Poker Tour event at the Borgata Atlantic City in 2007.

•    The eighth-place finisher was Dan Schreiber, from Troy, OH.  He won a gold bracelet at the 2007 World Series of Poker in the Heads-Up World Championship.

•    Michael Fantini, from Toronto, Ontario (Canada) finished in ninth place.  Fantini qualified to play in the tournament by winning a “high hand” draw held at Caesars.  In September, while playing in a cash game he was dealt four jacks.  The hand ended up as the highest hand of the day and Fantini’s name was picked as the winner in a random drawing, which included one entry into the Caesars Palace Classic championship.  With his winnings in this event, the four jacks ended up netting $59,127 in cash.  Note:  Thirty players qualified to enter this tournament in the “high hand” drawing.

•    Michael Katz (age 23), from Manalapan, NJ finished in tenth place.

•    Five of the top ten finishers in this event were under the age of 25.

•    Poker ambassador extraordinaire, 2006 Tournament of Champions winner, and former WSOP gold bracelet winner Mike Sexton finished in 11th place, one spot off the finale table.

•    Five of the 27 players who cashed in this tournament were former WSOP gold bracelet winners -- including Kathy Liebert, Dan Schreiber, John Hennigan, Tony Ma, and Mike Sexton.

•    Former professional bowler Johnny D’Silva finished in 20th place.

•    Hollywood character actor Keone Young finished in 25th place.  Young is perhaps best known for playing Mr. Wu in the HBO series Deadwood.  He has also appeared in several television shows (NYPD Blue, Navy NCIS, Alias, Will and Grace) and movies (Black Rain, Private Benjamin, The Brady Bunch Movie).

•    An early highlight at this year’s Caesars Palace Classic was when eight-time Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Michael Phelps entered the $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event and ended up as the ninth-place finisher.  Phelps was given the red carpet treatment by Caesars when he was presented with a gold medallion from the casino.  Phelps has already voiced his enthusiasm for entering more poker tournaments in the future, including the 2009 WSOP.  However, Caesars Palace will forever be remembered as his first-ever tournament in-the-money finish.

•    The new multi-million dollar Caesars Palace poker room debuted in December 2005.  The room is divided into sections, with a main floor designed for cash games, a terrace for high-limit action, and a special room for poker tournaments.    Caesars offers six tournaments daily, starting from as early as 9 am until the last tournament, which begins at midnight.  Caesars is one of the few poker rooms in Las Vegas with continuous around-the-clock action.

•    Based on the big turnout and overwhelming success of this year’s tournament, the third-annual Caesars Palace Classic is expected to be played in the fall of 2009.  Caesars Las Vegas will also host a World Series of Poker Circuit stop, scheduled April 12-29, 2009.

Official Results:

1.    Hevad Khan            Poughkeepsie, NY        $1,000,000
2.    Michael Kamran        Los Angeles, CA        520,320
3.    Gary Friedlander        Bellaire, TX            266,073
4.    Jonathan Aguiar         Las Vegas, NV        206,946
5.    Joseph Cordi            Whittier, CA            177,382
6.    Adam Junglen            Stow, OH            147,818
7.    Johnny “World” Hennigan    Philadelphia, PA        118,255
8.    Dan Schreiber            Troy, OH            88,691
9.    Michael Fantini        Toronto, ON (Canada)    59,127
10.      Michael Katz            Manalapan, NJ        35,746
11.      Mike Sexton            Las Vegas, NV        35,746
12.      Jamie Rosen            Boca Raton, FL        35,746
13.      Van Nguyen            Bell Gardens, CA        29,564
14.       Robert “Jon” Ford        Johnstown, PA        29,564
15.        Brent Roberts            Staten Island, NY        29,564
16.    Sabyl Cohen-Landrum    Folsom, CA            23,651
17.       Ray Qartomy            Houston, TX            23,651
18    Kevin Albers            Milford, MI            23,651
19.    Carter Gill            Bali (Indonesia)        17,738
20.    Johnny D’Silva        Bad Aibling (Germany)    17,738
21.    William Heimiller        Henderson, NV        17,738
22.    Tony Ma            S. El Monte, CA        17,738
23.    Todd Peterson            Henderson, NV        17,738
24.    Dar Mahboubi            Beverly Hills, CA        17,738
25.    Keone Young            Los Angeles, CA        17,738
26.    Noah Schwartz        Bay Harbor Island, FL    17,738
27.    Kathy Liebert            Las Vegas, NV        17,738

For more information, please contact:
Nolan Dalla -- Media Director at (702) 358-4642 or e-mail:

Caesars Palace Poker Room Manager – Jim Pedulla
Caesars Palace Classic Tournament Director – Brandon Navata

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