J.C. Tran Takes Down WPT Rolling ThunderWednesday, March 26th, 2014 by Ryan
We’re ramping up the live poker action, with the World Series of Poker just
around the corner, and many tournament series’ going on right now. One
event that just came to a close was the World Poker Tour’s Rolling Thunder
event this past Thursday. When the final table of this event started, our
eventual winner, J.C. Tran, was actually sitting as the second shortest
stack. He definitely had some work to do, but he showed us exactly why
he’s one of the stronger players in the game, and why playing as a short
stack in a poker tournament definitely doesn’t mean that you’re down and
out by any means. This was Tran’s second World Poker Tour championship of
his career as well.
When the day began, it was Quoc Pham holding the lead with just over a one
million chip lead ahead of Preston Harwell. The rest of the table had to
work on getting up to those two, and we saw Benjamin Zamani, Mimi Luu,
Tran, and then the short stack of the table in Ken Jorgensen round out the
final table. If any of those players who were playing catchup wanted to
win this event they were going to need to get to work fairly quickly, and
it actually looked like it may be another player early on. Luu started off
quickly with a double up through Pham within the first 15 hands of play.
The next all-in that we saw at the table didn’t go quite as well though.
We saw Jorgensen move all-in from the button as he was trying to steal the
blinds to chip up, but Tran wouldn’t fold out of the small blind, calling
with K-Q. Jorgensen was actually ahead to start the action with his A-3
against the King high of Tran, but the flop simply changed things quickly.
It came down K-8-4, and now Tran just had to hold on for the elimination.
A five came on the turn and a three came on the river, and this gave Tran
a good chunk of chips, and an elimination. Jorgensen was sent home in
The double ups came for a few different players over the next bunch of
hands, but when Zamani got it all-in against Pham and Tran, he ended up
mucking his cards on an 8-8-4-4-A board that the two other players checked
down. Pham showed pocket Jacks, while Tran had A-4 for a full house. With
four players left we saw the action roll on for a good while. We got
through more than 100 hands before another player was all-in and at risk,
with Luu being the next knockout. She pushed all-in on a Q-10-9-4-J board,
and Tran insta-called the shove. Luu had a rivered straight with 8-7, but
Tran had K-J so he had flopped the nuts.
Tran just kept working his way up in terms of his chip stack, as he was the
player to get us to heads up play as well. It wasn’t until Hand 137 that
this happened, but Pham shoved all-in pre-flop for over 700k in chips, and
Tran made the call. Pham turned over 7-6 of diamonds, and was behind the
Q-10 off of Tran. A ten on the flop gave Tran a nice lead, and while Pham
had a gut shot draw, he couldn’t improve his hand and was knocked out in
third place, setting up our heads up match between Tran and Harwell.
Even with the knockout though, Tran still had a ton of work to do. Harwell
had almost three million chips more than he did, and he just upped the
aggression to grab some quick pots and build up his stack. Before long
(close to ten hands in) Tran had grabbed the lead from Harwell. Harwell
and Tran then went back and forth a few times, before Tran finally grabbed
control of the tournament on one hand. The hand came on a K-7-2-2-4 board,
where Tran get money in on each street, and Tran showed K-Q for two pair,
but Harwell mucked his hand.
It took only four hands after that before the tournament came to an end.
Harwell shoved all-in pre-flop, and Tran called with K-4. He had a lead
pre-flop against Harwell, who had just 8-5 suited. The board just ran out
with only Tran hitting a four, and this gave him an impressive win at the
World Poker Tour’s Rolling Thunder event. He took home a beautiful
$302,750, and for second place Harwell won $200,030.