After Two-Year Poker Hiatus, Online Legend Hafiz ‘hafizzle’ Khan Wins WSOPC Thunder Valley for $189K

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California’s Thunder Valley wrapped up its second World Series of Poker Circuit stop over the weekend. The series awarded a dozen gold rings, including one in the $1,675 Main Event to 43-year-old online poker legend Hafiz “hafizzle” Khan, who had returned from a two-year break from the game.

Hafiz Khan
Online poker legend Hafiz “hafizzle” Khan stepped away from the game for two years, but now he’s returned with a bang. (Image: WSOP)

Mid-Life Awakening

The WSOPC Thunder Valley Main Event drew 599 entries, and Khan finished as the last player standing to win $188,686, his first gold ring, and a seat into the 2018 Global Casino Championship. The win couldn’t have come at a better time for Khan, who had stepped away from the game for two years.

“I was having, like, a mid-life, spiritual consciousness change,” said Khan. “I was thinking about getting a real job, going back into tech. I was thinking about that but I just couldn’t wrap my mind around that. I just couldn’t do a nine-to-five, going back to that, and waking up at six in the morning again.”

The Thunder Valley win brought Khan’s lifetime tournament earnings up over $2.75 million, much of which came back in 2008 when he finished runner-up to Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure for $1,094,976. Prior to Black Friday, Khan also won more than $3 million grinding the virtual felt.

“I kinda had a feeling,” said Khan, who bagged the big stack on Day 1B. “I’ve been telling my friends that I’m going to win this tournament. I felt good and I was running good.”

“People have been telling me all week while I’m walking in the halls. They just grab me and tell me I’m gonna win.”

Khan actually began heads-up play down 10-1 in chips against Roland Shen. A patient Khan refused to go down and after a back-and-forth match, seized the chip lead before Shen moved all in for his last 2.13 million with the Q♦8♥. Khan called with A♥Q♣ and straightened out his opponent after the board ran out K♥10♦8♣2♥J♣. Shen home $116,706 for finishing in second place.

Others notable cashes in the Main Event included Lee Markholt (17th for $9,479), Charles “Woody” Moore (22nd for $6,712), WSOP Colossus II champ Ben Keeline (27th for $5,750), and 2017 Global Casino Champ Sean Yu (30th for $4,987).

Final Table Results
1 Hafiz Khan (Stockton, CA) $188,686
2 Roland Shen (San Jose, CA) $116,706
3 Gregory Guth (Yuba City, CA) $85,340
4 Elisa Nakagawa (N/A) $63,326
5 Michael Scott (Elk Grove, CA) $47,647
6 John Chase (Encinitas, CA) $36,344
7 Steven Michaelis (Pleasanton, CA) $28,105
8 Vijay Ramani (Redwood, CA) $22,031
9 Josh Prager (Yuba City, CA) $17,503

Two Wins in Three Days

Ron Brown (Image: WSOP)

In other WSOPC Thunder Valley news, Idaho native Ron Brown took down two of the dozen ring events. First, he won Event #4: $365 NLHE, for $12,958. Then two days later, he followed it up by winning Event #8: $580 NLHE, for $17,919 and his second ring.

“I’m so enthused I don’t even know what to say,” said Brown. “I was supposed to be on my way home today, but I decided to stay because I wanted to go after the points.”

The points he referred to concerned the WSOPC Thunder Valley Casino Champion leaderboard. Thanks to one other deep run, Brown finished with 110 points to earn the title of Casino Champion and a seat into the 2018 Global Casino Championship.

Others to win rings at the stop were Devin Jackson (Event #1: $365 NLHE for $78,199), Michael Scott (Event #6: $365 Monster Stack for $24,812), and Steven Tabb (Event #13: $2,200 High Roller for $42,000).

The WSOP Circuit’s next stop is already underway at Horseshoe Tunica and will run through January 29. Likewise, the WSOP International Circuit is currently hosting a stop at Morocco’s Casino De Marrakech.

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