WCOOP 2013: Champion JC Tran still chasing bracelets

Two months before Chris Moneymaker won the 2003 WSOP, JC Tran was playing $120 tournaments at the Peppermill in Reno, Nevada. Ten years later, he has more than $9 million in live tournament winnings and is among the November Nine of the 2013 WSOP Main Event.

What happened in between then and now?

For one thing, Tran became poker's most well-known player to win a World Championship of Online Poker Main Event bracelet.

As satellites kicked off for WCOOP 2013, I was just getting back from the 2013 WSOP where I watched Tran finish among the final nine. I couldn't help but think back to the night I sat up late and watched a man going by the name "area23JC" win the 2006 WCOOP Main Event. And I couldn't help but wonder if Tran still thought about that night. Turns out, he does.

"My WCOOP victory probably rates as one of my top 10 poker accomplishments," Tran said.

By that point, Tran had established himself as a respected and feared player in live tournaments. He'd racked up a long list of cashes and final tables at the World Series of Poker and on the World Poker Tour and was on his way to winning WSOP bracelets and millions of dollars.

And now, he gets to take pictures like this.

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With that in mind, I posed a few questions to WCOOP's most famous Main Event champ about his life since his WCOOP victory and what's to come in the next couple of months.

Brad Willis: How much did winning WCOOP change your personal life? How did it change?

JC Tran: Winning the WCOOP back in 2006 was a huge accomplishment. At the time it really didn't change my personal life because financially I was doing okay at the time.

How much did winning WCOOP change your poker life?

As for my poker life, it was definitely an accomplishment that gained respect from all poker players, live and online. Most don't believe that live MTT players can transition over to online MTTs, and I was one of the few to prove that I can do so. At the time it was the biggest online tournament up to date, and it felt like winning a major tournament.

When you look back on your victory today, what do you think?

When I look back at my WCOOP victory, I realized that the game has changed so much since then. I remember back then when players were much more passive and my aggression was the key factor in my victory. Players were folding more often when I was 3-betting and 4-betting. Today, 3-betting and 4-betting doesn't mean too much, especially online. There are so many aggressive players nowadays that makes it tough for anyone to get credit for their 3rd and 4th bets pre-flop.

What have you been doing in the time since your WCOOP win?

Since my WCOOP win, I've have traveled and played tons of live tournaments mostly in the US and some in Europe and Asia.

How does your WCOOP victory rate in your list of life and poker experiences?

My WCOOP victory probably rates as one of my top 10 poker accomplishments. As for life accomplishments, poker doesn't really fit in the top 10. Life experiences like getting married and having a child is much more valuable than winning a poker tournament.

What's been the best thing you've experienced since your win?

The best thing I've experienced since my win is definitely the birth of my son. Watching him enter this world is better than all of my poker accomplishments combine

What is your life like today?

Life today is more of being a family man. I still travel and play poker, but I try not to be gone more than I am home. Before I became a family man, I was gone three weeks a month and had no problems with it. Now, I would miss my family too much.

Will you be playing WCOOP this year?

I won't be playing the WCOOP this year due to me still living in the States. I do miss playing online poker, and I can't wait until it's legalized in the States again.

Any advice for people who want to follow in your footsteps?

My main advice for people who want to follow my footsteps is to pace yourself. It is very important not to burn yourself out, because you definitely won't play your best if you are burnt out. Poker tournaments aren't going anywhere, so take your time, rest up and be fresh for the next one.

How are you feeling about your WSOP chances?

Right now, I feel very confident in my chances to finish strong in the WSOP Main Event. I felt like I've been playing really well and running well at the same time. My patience is really good right now, and I've been thoroughly thinking out each hand as I play them. I feel like I'm making good decisions, and hopefully I can continue this in November and bring home a victory.

WCOOP begins September 8 with $40 million in guarantees. For more information, see the WCOOP information page.

Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging. Photo courtesy of Poker Photo Archive.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in WCOOP