Two-time WSOP bracelet winner adds second Circuit ring to already impressive poker resume

September 25, 2017 (Sacramento, CA) - Coming into Monday afternoon, JC Tran had nothing to prove. He’s one of the most decorated tournament players in poker history, but he added another notch on his proverbial belt after taking down the $2,200 no-limit hold’em high roller event.

The local poker pro from Sacramento defeated a field of 58 entries to win $43,500 and his second World Series of Poker Circuit ring to go along with his two WSOP bracelets. He defeated fellow bracelet winner Will Givens heads-up for the title and the first place money brings his WSOP earnings alone to just shy of $5.3 million.

“It feels cool,” said Tran about his win. “I always like to come out here to Thunder Valley since it’s like 20-25 minutes from my house. I like this poker room a lot. I see a lot of friends and faces that I used to play with a lot coming up in Sacramento. It’s a lot of fun.”

It’s his first Circuit title since he won a $1,500 no-limit hold’em at the Rio in Las Vegas back in 2005 and his first Circuit cash since a sixth place finish in Lake Tahoe in a $10,000 no-limit hold’em event. His plan was to just play the main event, but after failing to survive either of the starting flights, he thought he was done with the stop.

A text from a friend informing him about the high roller event changed his plans, however, and he came back on Sunday night to take his shot at the last event of the series.

“I went home and someone was like ‘Hey, there is a $2K going on,’” said Tran. “So, I texted Ben [Erwin] and a couple other guys and asked how many players they thought they were going to get because I had already spent the day with my kids and family and they were getting ready for bed. So, I texted Rep Porter and Ben and they were like ‘There is 40-something players and we are expecting about 60.’ I was like ‘Oh, nice.’

“So, I kissed the kids goodnight and told the wife I was going to come out here. This is like 7 o’clock and I got out here at like eight. There were like 50 players and I played and I was going to gamble it up and whatever happens, happens. All of a sudden, I had some chips and this was pretty cool.”

At 40 years old with a wife and kids, Tran doesn’t stray far from home anymore. He opted to spend more time at home with his family and less time traveling around the globe playing poker tournaments.

He doesn’t regret the decision at all.

“If you are going to have kids, you are going to watch your kids grow up,” said Tran. “I see a lot of these dads traveling the Circuit and I’m wondering to myself ‘Hey, what are your kids up to?’ Sure, you come home and see them for a week, but you’re on the road for 2-3 weeks. That’s not the route I want to take. I’m not saying that they aren’t great days or nothing, but that’s not the route I want to go.”

He takes his family responsibilities just as much, if not more seriously than anything that could happen at the poker table. While most players get mad at themselves for misplaying a hand, Tran gets mad when he misses even a small event in his children’s lives.

“I felt bad the other day for missing my daughter’s soccer game,” said Tran. “I played all night, busted the last level of Day 1A and I told my wife that I was going to wake up for her soccer game at 9 a.m. I woke up a little late and I was pretty tired. I was like ‘Oh man, I’m not going to make it.’ That’s the kind of stuff that bothers me.”

Tran made short work of this event, dominating the final table from start to finish. Cards got in the air at 1 p.m. with nine players remaining. The money bubble burst about 40 minutes into the day’s action and Tran had accumulated every chip on the table just before 3:30 p.m. Heads-up play with Givens only lasted a couple hands.

“This wasn’t one of those long, grueling tournaments,” said Tran about the speed of play. “I showed up at 8 o’clock yesterday and now it’s like 3:30. I played like 4-5 hours yesterday and like two today. So, that’s pretty good [money] for like seven hours of play.”

That leaves plenty of time for him to get back home and focus on his number one priority.

“Now, I get to see [my family] and get back with them today and back to my normal life,” said Tran.

His volume may have decreased over the years, but Tran still puts up solid results and he came into this Circuit stop on a bit of a heater. Last month, he won $217,040 for a third place finish at a major tournament down in Los Angeles and continued his winning ways in the Northern part of the state.

“I think I’m a confident player, but just having a little bit of traction coming from another event is nice,” said Tran. “Prior to that event, I had only played one event post-World Series and it was here. I went deep in that too. So, I was feeling good and then I decided to go to Legends, you know. That kind of got the ball rolling and I thought I was playing pretty well and running pretty well.”

Coming into the final day, Givens and Tran were top two in chips and were the only two bracelet winners at the table. As the day wore on, it seemed like they were destined to clash. With more than a decade of experience as a professional poker player, Tran knows not to underestimate anybody sitting at the table with you.

“I’ve learned my lessons over the years,” said Tran. “You don’t underestimate anyone. Whether you have played with them or not. In the past, I’ve let my confidence take over and all of a sudden, I’m in a hand where someone played it extremely well and they got me. Now, I’m a bit more careful and give everyone the respect to start with.”

Like the true pro that he is, Tran doesn’t worry about the stakes or the players he is up against. He plays every hand to the best of his ability and hopes that the cards fall into place for him.

“I just play. I don’t really let my ego take over anymore,” said Tran. “Whether it’s $40,000 for first or a few million for first place, I come and I play and I try to make every correct decision.”

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1st: JC Tran - $43,500
2nd: Will Givens - $26,912
3rd: Edward Lewis - $17,632
4th: Jasthi Kumar - $12,180
5th: Jeffrey Soffer - $8,932
6th: Brett Murray - $6,844