By Sean Chaffin
Aces versus Kings. It’s a crushing cooler situation for any poker player – especially when it’s chip leader versus chip leader one spot from the televised final table to be filmed at HyperX Esports Arena in Las Vegas
Gardens regular Denny Tran (pictured) faced just such a situation at the WPT Choctaw in May. He’d been progressing up the pay ladder much of the day near the bottom in chips, but caught fire late in the day to move up to second in chips to chip leader at the time Will Berry.
Then disaster struck and Berry moved all-in with his pocket aces during the key hand that sent Tran to the rail. Tran tanked and used four time chips before ultimately making the call. He offered some insight into the hand early in the day on Sunday.
“I really wanted to fold my Kings in that hand,” he says. “He shipped all in and knew he had pocket Aces. That’s why I used the time chips. I really didn’t want to play, but my supporters behind pushed me into calling – it was bad advice.
“If I folded that hand I would have still had 2.6 million and the money jumped up about $27,000 more,” he said. “I didn’t want to play my Kings.”
Tran earned his way into the WPT Choctaw event after qualifying in the Gardens’ $20 Satellite Spectacular tournament. For his seventh-place finish, Tran took home $59,290 but was hoping for much more.
That score became the biggest tournament cash of his career, and most of the money went into his poker bankroll. This summer Tran played in a few events at the World Series of Poker, cashing in two. He plays cash games full-time at the Gardens, mixing it up in the $3/$5, $5/$5, and $5/$10 games.
He’s now back in his home casino for the WPT Gardens Poker Festival and hoping for another deep run. Things were already moving in the right direction on Sunday. Tran was one of three Gardens VIP players in the 7 Days to Vegas Bounty Sit and Go to help promote the new film.
It was a bit of a challenge to play. Tran was multi-tabling the championship event and the sit and go. The hustling paid off and he took down the sit and go, winning two VIP tickets to a special screening to the film and a movie poster signed by Vince Van Patten.
“I was running back and forth,” he said after the final break in the action on Sunday.
Like his entry into the Choctaw, Tran won a satellite into the championship event. He’s happy to be back in a WPT field and to have already chalked up a nice win. He says simply: “I love the WPT.”
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas, and his work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.