J.C. Tran, who came to the final table fourth in chips, battled back against a tough field to walk away as the winner of the 2009 World Series of Poker Event #30, $2,500 Pot-Limit Omaha. This is Tran’s third cash of this Series and his second bracelet, coming a year after he won his first gold bracelet in a $1,500 no-limit hold’em event.
436 players had started the event on Saturday, forming a total prize pool of $1,002,800. The field had been narrowed down to 61 by the end of Day 1. This was one of only a handful of events so far in the Series that actually reached the final table of nine by the end of Day 2 as the schedule called for. Day 3 began shortly after 2:00 p.m., with Hendon Mob member Ross Boatman in the chip lead with 718,000. Tran started the day in fourth at 387,000.
John Juanda, who came into the final table as the shortest stack with just 129,000, was the first to leave the stage, less than an hour into the competition. After calling a preflop raise from Dallas Flowers, Juanda moved all in on the flop of with , giving him a flush draw and inside straight draw. Flowers called with for an overpair. Juanda was the statistical favorite (about 60/40), but he couldn’t pick up any of his outs when the board was completed with the and . His ninth-place finish earned him $24,207. It was Juanda’s third cash and third final table this Series, having finished fifth in Event #16, $1,500 Seven-Card Stud, and fourth in Event #23, $10,000 World Championship No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball.
Next to go was Theo Jorgensen of Denmark (eighth place, $26,955). Tran raised to 55,000 from under the gun and Jorgensen raised the pot, putting in 140,000 more. Action folded back to Tran, who made the call. On the flop of , Tran bet about half the pot and Jorgensen called all in. Tran: . Jorgensen: . Tran had a flush draw, but Jorgensen’s overpair was the 64 percent favorite. The on the turn gave Tran more outs with a straight draw, which completed when the dealer brought out the on the river. Jorgensen’s tournament record includes a WSOP-Europe bracelet in Pot-Limit Omaha last year.
The pace of about one elimination per hour continued when Chad Layne went out three hours into the action, taking seventh place and $31,427. With blinds at 12,000/24,000 (there are no antes in this tournament structure), Tran opened for 60,000 from the button, holding . Layne three-bet to 200,000 with his . Tran reraised enough to set Layne all in, and he called, with Tran a slight statistical favorite (52 percent). The community cards came , and the unimproved kings won, sending Layne to the rail. This marks the second WSOP final table and eighth cash for the Henderson, NV, resident.
Rami Boukai of San Diego was the only player at the table to be gunning for his second bracelet of the year, having won Event #10, $2,500 Pot-Limit Hold’em/Omaha two weeks ago. His attempt to join Phil Ivey and Brock Parker in that exclusive club came to an end with a sixth-place finish and $38,407. Tran raised to 60,000 from the cutoff and Jean-Phillipe Leandri bet the pot, raising to 216,000 from the button. Boukai called all in for less, and Tran also called. Tran checked the flop of and Leandri moved all in. Tran called and we saw the hands:
When the board finished with the and , Leandri’s stack tripled with the aces, Tran lost a good chunk, and Boukai was finished. At this point in the match, Dallas Flowers held only about one-sixth the stack of chip leader Tran, and he put it all on the line about four hours into this final table. Jeff Kimber opened for 85,000 (blinds at 15,000/30,000), and Flowers pushed all in for his last 225,000, holding . Kimber called with . He was a slight favorite here: 48/44, with eight percent chance of a split pot. The dealer put out , and Kimber’s top two pair took it down. This was Flowers’s first WSOP cash, fifth place earning him $49,387.
Boatman exited just a few minutes later (fourth place, $66,936). He limped in from the small blind and Tran checked his big-blind option. The flop came down . Boatman checked to Tran, who bet 60,000. Boatman check-raised all in and Tran called. Boatman had top pair with , while Tran had top two pair with (61 percent to win). The turn was the , making Boatman a superior two pair, but Tran took it with the runner-runner flush when another spade fell on the river. This was Boatman’s 11th WSOP cash and second final table.
It took only 20 minutes more to get down to the final two. Tran claimed another victim in Jean-Philippe Leandri, sending him home in third place with $95,837. In a three-way limped pot, the players saw the flop of . Leandri bet 90,000, Jeff Kimber folded, and Tran raised pot. Leandri made the all-in call and the hands were opened. Leandri held and Tran tabled . Leandri was ahead with two pair (a 52 percent favorite), but Tran had outs with his overpair and flush draw. The on the turn brought the possibility of a chop, as a king on the river would make the Broadway straight for both men, but Tran took the hand when the hit and Leandri was sent packing. This was the Parisian’s first WSOP final table and second cash.
Tran entered heads-up play with just over a 2-to-1 chip lead: 2,230,000 to Kimber’s 1,040,000. He extended his lead to 5-to-1 within 20 minutes and never looked back, taking just under an hour to cinch the win.
The end came just after 7:30 p.m. Kimber opened for 120,000 from the button. Tran called from the big blind. The flop came down . Tran checked. Kimber bet 75,000. Tran called. The turn was the , and Tran led out for 100,000. Kimber moved all in and Tran made the call. The hands were revealed: Kimber held , and Tran showed . Tran’s supporters erupted in cheers as they discovered that Kimber was already drawing dead to Tran’s turned full house. The river was the and Tran at last had all the chips in front of him. Kimber concluded his first World Series final table as runner-up, with $145,656 to take back to England, dwarfing the sum of his previous four WSOP cashes.
J.C. Tran, hailing from Sacramento, California, personally eliminated five of his eight last opponents on the way to victory. With the win, his WSOP track record improves to two bracelets, eight final tables, 27 cashes, and $1,653,992 in winnings.