Never again will he be called "the best player not to have won a bracelet" after defeating Rasmus Nielsen heads-up in the latest $1,500 NLHE WSOP event. Instead, he joins the illustrious list of players who have that historic piece of gold strapped to their arms.
We spoke to J.C. shortly after his win to discuss how it felt to shake that monkey off his back.
You've waited a long time for this, won tournaments all over the world and picked up $6.5 million in tournament winnings. How does it feel to finally complete the set and win a bracelet?
I've come close so many times, this year alone, apart from other years. It's been disappointing. So when I ran deep in this tournament, I kept telling myself "Hey you know, play this like it's the Main Event, your last event, and keep fighting."
I never gave up when I was low. The whole way I didn't really think about the money. It's about the bracelet. I don't even know what first-place money is, I just wanted the bracelet.
When we went heads-up, and the bracelet's sitting there, I would just stare at it. Every time I got beaten in a pot, I'd look at the bracelet and say, "You know what? - You've got to fight for that," and that's what I did!
I got some hands, but I never gave up when I was low.
So you don't agree in that famous quote "Money before bracelets?"
You know money is always important. Everyone is in different situations in this life and the money's important, that's what I'm here for, I'm here to play for the money but at the World Series, when you're deep in an event, the money's always there.
If you final-table you get $100,000, $50,000 ... the money's always there, but with the bracelet, only one man can get hold of it and luckily enough for me, I'm the one!
You made a joke about your friend stealing your bracelet. You're in a group of really tight guys who are all very talented and very successful.
What do you think this means for your guys in terms of how it's going to lift their spirits?
I'm very thankful that they are all here to sweat me and support me. It gives me motivation. It motivates you to play better, play harder. I will guarantee one of my buddies will make the final table in the next event, just because of this.
J.C., you went into the heads-up with a chip deficit. Rasmus had been on a bit of a heater and had knocked out lots of players, and it looked like it might be his day.
Were you confident you could turn around the chip deficit?
Yes I was!
I still had plenty of chips. I was never once in push mode. I was still able to raise a standard raise on the button and not risk a big chunk of my stack. There was still a lot of poker to be played. Although he had me at one point 5-1 in chips, I never gave up.
As long as I can see flops and play some poker. One thing that was good about it was he's a flop player, and that's what makes a good poker player, you know. You see all these kids who go all-in pre-flop a lot, it can be useful but it's also very dangerous. You can blow a huge stack like that.
When we saw a lot of flops today, of course, I hit more.
You've played out some long days recently. Yesterday went on for a while and today there were moments where you needed to be patient.
How do you find your stamina holds up? Are there any special measures you take?
It's draining sometimes you know. Last night I was really tired. I try to drink some energy drinks but the stamina out here today was just the bracelet. The motivation and the excitement of it meant I [couldn't] be tired, you know!
And I've got a bracelet to show for it!
We always see you wearing the Yankees cap. Is there any reason you went with the upside-down logo instead of the regular one?
I was given this hat prior to the Series by a buddy of mine as motivation and I love the Yankees; it's just a styling thing. It's one of 48 made, I think, and he said, "Hey, you're one of the few to have it," and that's the reason.
It's pretty lucky, right?
Well congratulations on finally picking up a well-deserved bracelet J.C.
* * * * * * * * * * *
So, finally, J.C. Tran becomes the latest great player to shake that monkey off his back and pick up a bracelet to complete the gaping hole in his CV. Tran is easily among the handful of the best players in the world but perhaps doesn't court the amount of attention that some other, possibly less-talented players manage to.
With this win, perhaps that will all change, and we'll see more and more of this gifted player as he continues to take the poker world by storm.