Home Sweet Home! That’s what the newest World Poker Tour champion, J.C. Tran, must have said after winning the WPT Rolling Thunder Main Event played just outside his hometown of Sacramento.
Tran used all his poker knowledge and experience to overcome a short stack and with the major support of his friends and family, he won the latest WPT event held at the Thunder Valley Casino Resort.
The Sacramento native started the final day of the tournament with only 23 big blinds and was the second shortest stack at the six-handed final table. He knew that in order to get to the top, he needed to gamble and decided to call when shortstack Ken Jorgensen moved all-in with his last 15 big blinds. Jorgensen showed Ace-Three and Tran needed to improve in order to win the hand with his King-Queen. The flop brought a King that sent Jorgensen to the rail with a bonus of $60,180.
The stack-building continued for the Sac-town native as he doubled through Benjamin Zamani twice. Zamani started the day third in chips but couldn’t connect with any type of board and was eventually eliminated in fifth spot for $80,130. He raised his final two big blinds under the gun and was called by both Tran and Bay 101 Casino tournament director Quoc Pham. Tran won the hand after turning his Ace-Four into a dominant full-house.
Mimi Luu was the next final table competitor eliminated, failing to make history and become the first woman to win a WPT main event. She started the day well, doubling up early with pocket Kings and was preparing to celebrate in her last tournament hand. She shoved with a rivered Queen high straight only to see that her opponent, Tran, had a King high straight.
Luu left the final table $100,420 richer.
Three-handed play lasted only seven hands with Tran taking yet another victim. Pham moved his last 10 big blinds all-in pre-flop with a suited connector while his opponent made a good call with Queen-Ten. Pham finished third, taking home a decent prize of $127,140.
Heads-up, Tran was unstoppable and took the chip lead after an outstanding seven straight winning hands. Preston Harwell fought bravely, but couldn’t do anything to erase his opponent’s home court advantage. Harwell fell victim to yet another king-type hand and finished runner-up for $200,030.
“That was a secret no one knew about it. If you had a king in your hand, you had to just gamble. We’re in Sacramento and it’s all about the Kings,” Tran said after winning the title plus $302,750, linking his success to the local NBA franchise, the Sacramento Kings.
This was Tran’s second WPT title as he became only the 20th player in history to win multiple WPT events. Overall, Tran has cashed almost $11 million while playing live tournaments, according to Hendon Mob Database, including a big $2 million prize for fifth place in last year’s WSOP Main Event.