WSOP Main Event: Thang Tran, 1k FPP Qualifier

by Craig Cunningham

Thang Tran qualified for his second straight WSOP Main Event through PokerStars, but he arrived with a seat in a situation fairly common to many of us but with a twist most of us would never expect.

Thang is a dentist in Houston, living in his hometown with his wife Christina, an optometrist, and their four-month old baby girl. "The first two months were really hard," he said. "She slept during the day then was awake from 9:00 at night until 6:00 in the morning. With two offices to keep going, it was a tough time." His poker time was understandably cut down, from 4-6 hours a day to 1-2 hours every few days. Through a series of bad sessions, his online bankroll got down to $1. Busy with diapers and dentistry, he decided to take a break.

One weekend morning, he opened PokerStars and found 14,000 in Frequent Player Points. On a lark, he decided to play in a 1k FPP tourney to qualify for the Main Event. "I thought it was pretty pointless, to spend so much time with one chance to win a seat. I didn't really have the time to spend, but I decided to just give a shot." Several hours later, he had earned his second trip to the Main Event.

"Last year was my first live tournament, and I was scared back then," Thang said. "On the first hand I played, I flopped the nuts. I checked, and this aggressive guy who'd been betting at everything bet, and I called. I was so scared I was shaking, and on the turn the guy bet but I said 'Hey, it's my turn to bet.' I bet, and that slowed him way down. He just called, then he folded on the river. I could have won a bigger pot if I'd been more comfortable." Thang made it close to the cash bubble last year, although he didn't know he was close. "I played until 3:00 in the morning on the first day, and by the time we'd bagged chips and gotten to the cab stand, it was a two hour wait for a cab. Then I had to be back at 11:00 that morning for Day 2. It was draining, but it was such a great experience."

Christina is flying in this afternoon around 3:00 to join him, giving them some quality time together with their daughter in safe hands back in Houston. Thang has high hopes that he'll make it through today with plenty of time to rest this time before Day 2.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker