Making it to the final table was already considered a big achievement for Johnson and he already felt good about it:
''I felt pretty good coming in into the final table. It was already the most I've ever won, so it was all a freeroll.''
However, the stakes were high at the final table as half of the 10 players left were ring winners; and the final day action was a roller coaster for Johnson, as were his emotions after taking down the tournament:
''I feel amazing. It's my first ring, my first final table. I feel ovewhelmed.''
Coming into the final table, Johnson was third in chips and managed to keep up with a big stack for most of Day 2. However, coming into Day 3, things didn't go his way at the beginning and he soon became one of the short stacks after calling off a big bet from Luke Graham on the river, only to see his opponent's rivered two pair.
His downswing didn't last long though, and he quickly managed to make a comeback by eliminating Benjamin Thomas in 4th place. Soon after, he scored a big double through Matthew Higgins by calling an all in raise with against Higgins's on a board to take the lead. Higgins claims it was a misread and Johnson thinks that anyhow, it was a good play from his opponent.
''He says it was a misread, but it's a good bluff with ace-six, if it's a bluff. I knew the only hand I couldn't beat was ace-four. I was only worried about ace-four.''
A few hands later, Matthew Higgins doubled Luke Graham up when his pair of fours couldn't hold against Graham's ace-king in a blind vs blind situation. Higgins was left with 13 big blinds and was eliminated quickly after by Johnson in an all in preflop situation.
The heads up part of the day started and the stakes were still high, as Johnson's opponent, Luke Graham, already had a ring in the bag, as well as a Main Event title.
That did not stop Johnson from playing his best game. Indeed, within a few hands in, Johnson showed he got heart and was ready to risk it all to win, as he moved all in with on a board. Luckily for him, his bluff got through. Graham did not call, but made the right call right after, when he asked Johnson to show the bluff, only to see the bad news.
''I thought when the king came, he would fold nines and tens, everything worse than jacks so I just went for it.''
Johnson just got back into poker this year, and will end 2018 on a good note. His plans for 2019 already look promising as he now plans to take a shot at the $10,000 Main Event in the summer.
''I've been traveling the circuit most of this year. I was playing in college early 2000's and then got a job and took a break. But I got back into it about a year ago. $10,000 of my win will go to the Main Event in Vegas.''
1st place: Kevin Johnson - $127,319 +2019 GCC Seat
2nd place: Luke Graham - $78,678
3rd place: Matthew Higgins - $57,491
4th place: Benjamin Thomas - $42,687
5th place: Timothy Conrow - $32,189
6th place: Johnny Landreth - $24,637
7th place: Dave Alfa - $19,133
8th place: Chris Matters - $15,070
9th place: BJ McBrayer - $12,038