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J.C. Tran: A Seif bet
The 30-year-old poker pro killed the tournament circuit in 2007 with his WPT appearances and a win at the Five Star World Poker Classic in Las Vegas. Still riding the adrenaline rush, Tran made it to this year's World Series of Poker ready to top his best-ever finish: second in the $1,500 No-Limit in 2006.
As yet, his wrists are empty. But Tran has a good feeling about the $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em w/re-buys event entering Day 2 today. At last night's dinner break Tran held the chip lead and, although he relinquished the top spot by night's end, it's doubtful he's too concerned.
The pro is confident in his game and in himself - so much so that he's willing to put his money where his mouth is.
On the dinner break from the tournament yesterday, Tran told PokerListings.com about his goals going into the 2007 WSOP and a couple side bets he's working on.
You're chip leader right now. How are you feeling?
I'm feeling really good. I'm playing really good. I got lucky a couple of hands. Other than that, I'm playing my game as usual.
Did you re-buy?
Yeah. Actually, I was still in Day 2 of the $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha; I bubbled that event, and I double dipped by playing this event. So I came here at noon, the Pot Limit Omaha started at two. So I re-bought like six times - $4,000 and the add-on - so I'm in for a total $6,000, and with the original buy-in, $7,000. I bought $22,000 before the PLO started. So I went over there, played a little bit, got unlucky a couple hands, got knocked out on the bubble, and now here I am.
Was it tough to juggle?
Yeah. Well, actually I only had to run back once, because when we started at 2 o'clock in the PLO, this tournament was on a half-hour break, so that was good. So I didn't really miss any hands. I ran back once, and we did a color up and lost $5k in two hands, so I should never have ran back. But other than that, once I got knocked out of there I said, 'Okay, I'm going to focus on this because I've still got a lot of chips.' From there I just built and built and built and caught some hands, made a couple good reads, got lucky in a couple spots. I'm up to about $150,000 now, so I'm feeling good.
So you got your major in Reno. After you accomplished that did you make any plans for the World Series of Poker?
Oh yeah, definitely. Actually, it's been very disappointing for me so far. My goal was to make at least two final tables and win a bracelet. I've got a couple bracelet bets for a lot of money. I got deep twice, down to two tables in two different tournaments, where I was the chip leader or second in chips. And, you know, I got really tired and kind of gave my money away. It won't happen this tournament. If I get down deep, I think I'm going to close it this time.
Are those bets with other players?
Yeah. Mark Seif laid me 20:1 to win a bracelet and I bet him a few thousand. But he actually laid me the wrong odds. It was supposed to be 5:1 - he gave the same bet to Gavin Smith last year to win two bracelets. So, he totally forgot about the two bracelet part and gave it to me for one. Who wouldn't want to take that bet? So I took it. And I've got a couple other bets, some other names I don't want to mention - pretty big bets. We're down right now, so I've got to win a bracelet.
Well, good luck. You were the hottest player on the tournament circuit this year. How were you feeling coming into the World Series?
I was feeling really good. I was feeling like I was going to win a bracelet right away. But, I mean, it's a totally different field; it's a totally different game. You've got to adjust. It took me a while to adjust. Every year when I come into the World Series I don't do anything early. It's always late that I do something. I've come out of the World Series probably winning every year, but this year's been pretty disappointing. If I don't do anything now, I guarantee you I will do well in the Main Event.
You're always wearing the New York Yankees hat. I thought you were from the other coast.
Yeah, I'm from Sacramento. I wear the hat because a high school buddy of mine got drafted to the Yankees and played for them. So I follow them a little bit. I kind of like the hat; the logo. The Yankees have the most hats color-wise, style-wise. It matches a lot of my outfits, so I decided to stick with it. I wear a lot of navy and blue. So here I am with the Yankees hat. It's like a regular thing for me now. Some days I don't wear the Yankees hat and people give me a hard time. They're like, 'What's going on? Why don't you have a Yankees hat on?'
How many do you think you own?
I own a lot. I might have been through at least 100 Yankees hats. You can only wear them for a certain amount of time - they get tighter, they get dirty. So I stop wearing them and throw them away. It's kind of a waste of money, but oh well.
Few events remain, but when J.C. Tran says he's going to do something you know that if he doesn't make it, he'll at least come close.
"I'm owed a major. I'm overdue for a major, and I think right now I'm playing my best poker," he told PokerListings.com at the LAPC in March. A few weeks later, he won the World Poker Challenge in Reno. Let's see if he has the same foresight when it comes to the World Series of Poker.