By Sean Chaffin
It was a sour ending for James Carroll (pictured) at the WPT L.A. Poker Classic in March. As the late stages of the tournament, Carroll looked to hold on. Another the television final table was in sight – and a shot at his second tour title. A little added incentive? This final table would be held at HyperX Esports Arena. He had been so close.
It didn’t go his way, however, and Carroll walked away with seventh place and $155,900. It wasn’t all about the money though, the anguish and frustration of coming so close were visible as this true competitor left the table.
That feeling is now firmly in the past and he comes into the final table here at the Esports Arena as chip leader of the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown.
“I was super bummed out about finishing seventh at the LAPC,” says the 32-year-old, who’s originally from the Boston area and has now lived in Las Vegas for nine years. “I was second in chips with about nine players left. I thought I would do a lot better than that, but here I’m hoping to get some vengeance.”
Carroll has plenty of skills to get the job done but is up against a tough final table that also includes WPTDeepstacks winner Maria Ho and two-time WPT champion Eric Afriat.
With plans to play six days a week this summer at the World Series of Poker, a WPT title here could start the summer off on a huge note. Don’t rule out a WPT and a WSOP bracelet in the same summer for this rounder. Carroll has $3.4 million in live tournament winnings and came close to his first WSOP bracelet last summer – taking runner-up in the $1,500 Monster Stack for $641,000.
His WPT championship came at the Bay 101 Shooting Star in Season XII (2014) for $1.3 million and now has $1.6 million in WPT winnings overall.
Many might expect players with some time on their hands between making the final table and then playing it out n front of the TV cameras might have studied up on their opponents. Carol believes in his skills and his reads on opponents, and has taken a different approach.
“Not really at all,” he says of studying his opponents at today’s final table. “I’ve really just been playing, that’s about it.”
By the first break in the day, things seemed to be going pretty smoothly. After beginning the day with 16.7 million in chips, he’d moved that up to almost 20 million.
Away from the tables, Carroll enjoys time with friends and family. He also likes playing golf and sports a 10-handicap. The best poker playing golfers he’d been on a course with? He credits Eric Blair and Ryan Julius, both of whom have also had some WPT success. Carroll recommends saving a few bucks and not wagering with them on the links.
While Carroll may have his own nice golf game, it’s poker that pays the bills. And business has been good of late. How does he feel coming into this final table at HyperX Esports Arena?
“It feels great,” he said before action got underway. “It’s a really nice feeling to have so many opportunities.”
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas, and his work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.
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