JC Tran Wins Second WPT Title at Rolling Thunder

March 31, 2014

The launch of World Poker Tour in 2003saw a revolution in televised poker as there was a renewed interest in Texas Hold’em. Since then, there has been a substantial increase in the poker audience as televised poker events by WPT are both informative and educative. The expert commentary and a deft use of poker lingo by WPT hosts Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten have been instrumental in familiarizing newbies with the game. 

Two time WPT champion JC Tran could not have it better than winning a WPT title at his own backyard in Sacramento. After outlasting a playing field of 464 entrants, JC Tran who likes being addressed as “Just Call” Tran emerged victorious. According to the Hendon Mob Poker database, Tran added a prize money of $302,750 to further his total career winnings to $11.2 million.

Ryan D’Angelo Eliminated in 7th Place

The playing field of 24 players was reduced to the final table of 6 by the end of the third day. The last casualty of the day being Ryan D’Angelo. The 97th hand of the day saw Benjamin Zamani raising to 65,000 while Ryan D’Angelo called from the big blind. The flop showed a Jack of Hearts, 9 of Diamonds and a 5 of Hearts. D’Angelo checked the flop and Zamani raised a further 215,000. . D’Angelo then check-raised all-in for 530,000 which was followed by Zamani calling in with an Ace of Clubs J of Diamondsfor a pair of jacks and D’Angelo turning over 9 8 for a pair of nines.

D’Angelo was left with no option but to improve his hand if he wanted to stay in the game. However, fate had something else in store for him as Zamani’s river card turned out to be a Q . Zamani went on to win the pot with the help of a pair of jacks, eliminating Ryan D’Angelo and pushing him down to the seventh place.

Ken Jorgensen Out in 6th Place

Another local player from Sacramento, Ken Jorgensen had the second least chip tally on the final day with chips numbering 510,000. Jorgensen lasted 18 hands at the final table before he moved all-in pre-flop for 435,000. Tran who was trailing with a short stack and only 23 blinds took the gamble when he called from the small blind with a K Q which came through for him.

Jorgensen then took the lead again with an Ace of Clubs and a 3 of Spades as he badly needed it to stay in contention, but he paired kings on the board when the flop showed a King and 8 of Spades and a 4 of Clubs, 5 of Clubs on the turn and a 3 of Clubs river which eventually earned Tran the pot. Jorgensen pocketed a prize money of $60,180 to exit at the 6th spot from his first major final table finish at the WPT Rolling Thunder Casino.

Benjamin Zamani Hits the Rail in 5th Place

Benjamin Zamani is having a good run on the live circuit with three top ten finishes to boast of this season. He had the third largest stack with 1,990,000 chips on the third day at the tables of WTP, Rolling Thunder. The third day saw him smiling all the way when he doubled up against Preston Harwell with pocket Kinds that bettered Harwell’s 9-8 off suited hand.

He reached the final day on a high after crushing Ryan D’Angeloin seventh spot with an off suited Ace-Jack hand which bettered D’Angelo’s 9-8 off suit. Although his first WPT final table appearance was cut short by Quoc Pham’s Ace-King suited hand which outshone his Ace-Queen off-suited ahnd. A double up by Tran against Zamani saw Tran improve his stack by 2 million chips with an off-suited Ace-10 hand which was up against Zamani’s Pocket Aces. Zamani was then besieged by a three way pot against Tran and Quoc Pham to be eliminated to the 5th spot after a mucked hand as Tran’s hand of Ace-4 suited hit a full house on the board.

Mimi Luu Out in 4th Place

Mimi Luu set out for her final table confrontation being the second shortest stack on the final day. With a total of 735,000 chips and 23 big blinds, her entertaining duel with Quoc Pham set up an interesting final table. With the blinds at 15,000/30,000, Luu raised to 65,000 from middle position only to find Pham calling from the big blind. As Pham checked, Luu bet 100,000 while Pham check-raised to 255,000. Luu was contemplating for quite some time before she declared that she would not fold before she even starts. This was followed by Luu moving all-in which saw Pham calling again. The call revealed that Luu’s kings were way ahead of Pham’s 6 and 4 for a pair and a straight draw. After her request for a hold up on her hand Luu went on to win 1 million chips in quick succession after a turn and a river that put her back in the race. It was her encounter with Tran that led to her elimination, Tran beat her with a call when she moved all in for 430,000 . Both Luu and Tran made a straight, but Tran’s kings ruled as Luu exited the final table with an earning of $100,240.

Quoc Pham Shown the Door, out in 3rd Place

Quoc Pham was seen heading the chips tally at 5,580,000 on the third day after steadily winning successive pots. Pham along with Preston Harwell held almost 70% of the chips on the 3rd day of play. Although the only major damage done was slicing through Bryan Campanello’s chip stack followed by some aggressive post-flop play accompanied by a bluff which gave him a lead over Preston Harwell.

The Bay 101 Casino Director Pham then took a 860,000 chip pot against Benjamin Zamani followed by an 800,000 pot against JC Tran with pocket 9s which was better than Tran’s pocket 5s. Pham then outwitted Mimi Luu for a pot of 660,000 with an improved pair of deuces that outshone Luu’s flopped pair of Aces. Pham’s downfall was masterminded by JC Tran who won a massive pot of 6 million chips to eliminate Pham in third place.

JC Tran beats Preston Harwell to take Title

With more than 30% of the hands being played between Tran and Harwell, it was during the final five hands that Tran edged past his adversary. The hand that sealed Harwell’s fate came when he raised to 300,000 on the button followed by Tran calling in from the big blind that revealed a flop of King, Jack and 2 . This was followed by Tran checking and Harwell betting 350,000 which prompted Tran to raise to 775,000 which Harwell duly called.

Leading out for 1.15 million on the turn and 1.6 million on the river, Tran got calls from Harwell on both occasions. Tran had managed to acquire a dominant chip lead which became gradually harder for Harwell to overcome even after doubling up on the 198th hand of play. Harwell got knocked below 10 big blinds on Hand 207 , moving all in pre-flop for 1,125,000 while Tran went on to call. Tran revealed his cards King-4 off-suited hand which was enough to see him win the WPT title that not only got him a $15,400 seat in the WPT World Championship, but also a diamond encrusted trophy.