J.C. Tran Deserves Respect

J.C. Tran
J.C. Tran on Day 1 of the WSOPC Lake Tahoe main event

J.C. Tran was shot out of the cannon here in Lake Tahoe right from the get-go. He amassed a towering stack by the dinner break and was the clear chip leader. But things didn't go so well for the WPT Season 5 Player of the Year after that.

He lost a huge race with A-K against queens and dusted off the rest of his chips running the second nut flush into the nut a few hands later. J.C. was cordial enough, though, to spend part of his dinner break chatting with PL.com about the day. We talked about his aggressive style, playing close to home, why he doesn't get the recognition he deserves and how that just might make him leave tournament poker for good if it doesn't happen soon.

J.C., you've got the chip lead at this point. I suppose your aggressive style of play is ruling the day.

I came in aggressive, but the thing is that I was hitting a lot of hands. Coming in aggressive sometimes you aggravate a lot of the players and they'll call you a lot. So when I hit a lot of hands I get paid off. I was getting paid off left and right and hitting a lot of hands. Say if I wasn't hitting hands, I'd probably be out of the tournament right now.

J.C. Tran
Close to home!

My first table was great. Then I got moved to another table and there are a lot more chips there. I got a guy two seats to my left with $40k and the guy to my left, Aaron Kanter, he's got like $20k. So they're not too short and they got chips to where they are a threat. I might tighten up a little bit, but I'm going to stay aggressive win or lose.

You are from just up the road in Sacramento, California. Is this a homecoming of sorts?

Yes and it's perfect timing because it's close to Thanksgiving and it's close to home. It's just an hour and a half drive and hopefully I can do well and I can pick up some points here (for player of the year).

The thing about traveling and playing poker is comfort and I feel comfortable close to home. I travel, I'm on the road a lot of time, eating takeout food and you really don't play your A game all the time. Here I'm close to home so I feel comfortable.

J.C. Tran
Unrelenting Aggression!

Seriously J.C., you have more than $5 million in career tournament earnings and WPT Player of the Year title. Most consider you one of the best tournament players in the world. How come we don't see your face splashed all over TV commercials and other endorsement deals?

I think it's mainly because I'm an Asian guy and it's tough to market an Asian guy. I mean, how many Asian guys do you see on TV? Hopefully it's going to change, but at the same time the whole online (legality) thing has hurt marketing for poker players.

Although, recently some other guys have gotten deals so it does sort of raise the question: Are these companies really hurting all that much in the marketing department? That's why I'm chasing player of the year. Maybe if I make player of the year all that will change.

JC Tran, Gavin Smith
Peer respect - Two WPT POYs sharing the felt!

Almost half of the Asian poker players don't speak English and we really don't have like a big name player representing Asian players. Scotty Nguyen is out there, but he really does his own thing. Then there are a lot of players out there who really don't get recognition for the type of people they are in the public eye and a few others who really don't represent themselves well in public. I think I'm fine, I'm a nice guy.

The thing is, I'm not sure how much longer I'm going to be playing tournament poker. I might just switch back over to cash games and stay closer to home. It's kind of not fair that I don't get the recognition and endorsements I deserve and there are players out there who don't do half of what I do and they do.

Thanks J.C. and good luck, although I doubt you'll need it.

Endorsement deals or not, just ask a few poker players at a WPT, WSOP or WSOPC event who they fear most on the felt and more often than not, J.C. Tran's name will come up. He's got the respect of his poker peers and certainly PokerListings.com. If he keeps plugging away, playing winning poker and handling himself in the pleasant and professional manner he always does, good things are bound to happen for J.C. Tran. He's certainly earned it.

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