J.C. Tran has had his share of poker success. He recently was a participant in the Grand Daddy of all poker events, the November Nine at the World Series of Poker Main Event, where he finished 5th for well over two million dollars in prize money. He’s won a WSOP bracelet (two of them to be precise). A WPT title. Yet none of those accomplishments probably match what he accomplished yesterday when he won the 2014 World Poker Tour (“WPT”) Rolling Thunder tournament as the event was held in his hometown of Sacramento, California. Tran took to Twitter after the win to tell everyone how he felt:
— JC TRAN (@jctran23) March 20, 2014
The win catapulted J.C. over the eleven million dollar mark in lifetime earnings. Let’s look at how he earned his victory:
When we last left off, we were down to 24 players. Michael Crabtree would be the first player to be eliminated on Day 3 when his pocket Aces were cracked by Dylan Hortin’s Td-9d when the two got it all in on a J-T-6 two diamond flop and Hortin turned a flush. Michael Rocco, the eventual winner of the WPT California Swing leader board promotion, would finish in 21st place when his Kh-9h was dominated by Preston Harwell’s Ace-Nine. Tran would start his impressive run to victory with a much needed double up with pocket Aces against Ed Miller and his pocket 8’s. One time chip leader Bryan Campanello would finish in 15th place when he had the misfortune of picking up Ace-Queen when Preston Harwell found Kings. Harwell would continue his assault on the field eliminated well known pro Keven Stammen in 14th place with Ac-Qc against Stammen’s 7’s. A Queen on the flop would be more than enough and Harwell was the chip leader with nearly 2.4 million in chips.
In the meantime, Tran would pick up Aces again and would double up with them again. This time it was courtesy of James Calderaro who held pocket Queens. That pot put Tran just shy of the two million mark and left Calderaro with approximately 750K. James would be eliminated a few minutes later at the hands of Ben Zamani. Ryan D’Angelo would eliminate tough pro Chad Eveslage in 8th place with Aces against Jacks. They would play for some time seven handed as no one wanted to be the one not to make the official final table of six. It would be D’Angelo who would get that unfortunate honor when he got it all in with 2nd pair against the top pair of Ben Zamani and was unable to improve. Here is how the official final table looked:
Seat 1: Preston Harwell 4.425 million
Seat 2: Mimi Luu 735K
Seat 3: Ben Zamani 1.99 million
Seat 4: Ken Jorgensen 510K
Seat 5: J.C. Tran 710K
Seat 6: Quoc Pham 5.58 million
Short stacked Mimi Luu would get things started off with a bang… and a double up… when she moved all in with pocket Kings on a 6-5-3 flop despite facing a check raise from her foe, chip leader Quoc Pham. It was only another 230K for Pham to call and he did so with 6-4 for top pair with an open ended straight draw. Mimi would fade all the outs, doubling up to a little more than 1.1 million in chips in the process. Ken Jorgensen would not be as fortunate. He moved his short stack all in with Ac-3s and was called by J.C. Tran who held Kh-Qs. Tran was short himself but did have Ken covered. A King would flop and no help would come for Jorgensen and he was eliminated in 6th place for $60,180.
Ben Zamani would double up as Quoc Pham made a move at the wrong time. With the board reading 5-3-3, Zamani would lead out for 330K and Pham would make it 800K to go leading to a quick all in from Ben for just over 1.5 million. Pham made the call with just King high with Kc-Qc and would need a lot of help as Zamani held pocket Queens. That help would not arrive and Zamani doubled to just under four million in chips and knocked Quoc down to 2.7 million. Zamani would send a million of those chips over to Tran when J.C. picked up Aces in the small blind to Zamani’s Ace-Ten from the button. Those two would go at it again about ten hands later. With the blinds at 20K/40K with a 5K ante, Zamani opened to 90K from the cutoff and was called by J.C. who was on the button. The flop came Ah-9d-6h and Zamani checked. Tran bet 105K and Zamani was quick to react with a 500K check raise. Tran took nearly a minute before deciding to make the call. The turn was the 7c and the two got all their chips in the middle in record time. Zamani had Ac-8c for top pair with an open ended straight draw but it was no good as J.C. had turned the nut straight with Th-8h for a flush draw that had hit a gut shot straight. The river was an inconsequential Kd and Tran moved to 2nd place in chips with 4.4 million while Zamani was still in decent shape with 2.2 million. Zamani would get crippled with Ace-Queen against Quoc Pham’s Ace-King and would be eliminated in 5th place soon after winning $80,130.
J.C. Tran would catch chip leader Preston Harwell trying to bluff on a Qh-6c-5c-Tc-7s board with Ac-4h for a missed club flush. Tran had Ts-5s for two pair. That pot would move Tran into the chip lead with 5.7 million in chips. Harwell would regain the chip lead when he and Quoc Pham would race for a six million chip pot. Pham’s Ace-King would not be able to improve against Harwell’s Jacks and he was now the table short stack with 1.3 million. It would be Mimi Luu, however, who would be the next player eliminated when she moved all in on the river with the bottom end of a straight on a Q-T-9-4-J board with 8-7 but was crushed by J.C. Tran’s K-J and king high straight. Luu finished in 4th for an impressive $100,240 score.
Quoc Pham would be next out when he moved all in for 700K from the button with 7d-6d and was called by Tran out of the big blind with Qh-Ts. A ten on the flop would give Tran a lock on the hand and Pham finishes in 3rd place for $127,140.
Preston Harwell would start heads up play with a 8.4 million to 5.5 million chip advantage over J.C. Tran but no one was going to deny Tran in his home town. Heads up play would last over 70 hands and saw Tran chip away slowly but steadily at Harwell until he took over the chip lead. The two would trade the chip lead several times before Tran took a commanding chip lead when he flopped bottom two pair that turned into a rivered spade flush. That hand put Tran at 10.4 million and left Harwell with 3.5 million. Harwell would double up with Aces against Tran’s 5’s and would eventually get back to five million in chips but would lose another huge pot to Tran to knock him down to just over a million in chips. It was over soon after when Harwell’s 8s-5s was called by Tran’s Kd-4c. Tran would hit a 4 and Harwell would have to settle for 2nd place and $200,030.
Tran added another $302,750 to his impressive poker resume but it was the win that meant more than anything to him, especially with it being in his back yard.