It was Event 40, $2,500 2-7 Triple-Draw, and Phan was faced with a tough final table. David Sklansky, Ben Ponzio, Robert Mizrachi, Gioi Luong and Shun Uchida all had their eyes on the bracelet but, after all was said and done, it would end up on Phan's already-bejeweled wrist.
When the final hand was over, Phan ordered a round of 20 Coronas for everyone there and we sat down for a press-conference style interview. Representatives of every major media outlet were in on it, so for your benefit we'll run all the interesting stuff here.
Congratulations John. You reacted to this victory a little different than your first bracelet. Why is that?
Going into the World Series I didn't expect to win a bracelet so winning one was really nice. I've come second so many times so I'm used to that. The first one was nice but winning the second one was so hard it's way bigger.
I like to do things that not everyone has done so getting Player of the Year and winning two bracelets is more important [than just winning one].
I've been here so many times, so many final tables, but I've never played as well as I did in the last week. If I had played this well in the past my overall results would be a lot different.
Tell us a bit about the game of Lowball and how it suits your style.
I'm really aggressive and I think I can read people okay. Someone was saying I won every single hand. At one point I think I won 20 hands in a row. How many hands was I raising?
You spend a lot of your winnings supporting people back in Vietnam. Tell us a bit about that.
Yeah, I donate a lot of my money to charity and to my family. I give like 30 or 40% of all my winnings to my family and to the unfortunate people there. I support over 120 of my cousins and family, making sure they have food, a decent house, clothes. The more I win the more I can donate. There's so many poor people and I really like that feeling of giving back.
You and Gioi Luong were getting into it a bit. What was the problem there?
Well, poker's all about karma. I'll always gamble, anytime, but he's taking so many angle shots at the table it's not even funny. It wasn't always against me but I'll try to protect all the players at the table when someone's trying to take shots.
You gotta play fair and square and he does a lot of stuff that I wasn't happy about. A lot of people know this about him and aren't happy. It's all about karma though and that's why he came out third.
You're third in the Player of the Year race and you've got a chance to become one of the few players to win three bracelets in one year. How hard are you going to be playing for the rest of the Series?
I always bring my best game. I'll be playing every event.
The $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event?
I thought that didn't count for Player of the Year.
Nolan Dalla: No, it counts. We changed that.
[Pauses] I'll be playing the H.O.R.S.E. then.
Thanks a lot John and congratulations again.
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While it's not exactly unusual to find philanthropy in the poker world, it's always great to hear that a win will mean more than a few bucks ending up in the pocket of a poker professional. PL.com's been following John for the last few years and we're always pulling for him. He has an incredible amount of skill and a perspective to match.
He walked a tough road to get where he is today and he's making every second count.