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The unstoppable Tran

JC Tran is the Premier League III champion after taking down the most formidable final table in the event’s history.

Tran, widely regarded as one of the finest and consistent tournament professionals on the circuit, scooped the $300,000 first prize in the elite tournament that saw 12 of the world’s finest players battle it out for a $1.25 million prize pool.

“This is brilliant and I am so happy,” said Tran. “I have been feeling good all week and it is amazing to win this event. Until this week I had never played in Europe so I really couldn’t ask for more. Perhaps I should move here.”

Tran reached the final table as chip leader, overall league winner after fantastic displays that saw him pick up three first places and two second places in the heats and the favourite to win with It wasn’t all plain sailing, though, as Tony G fought hard to finish runner-up, holding the lead for much of the heads-up battle.

How it went down

At the start of the heads-up, Tony G had the advantage and held 1,150,000 to Tran’s 780,000. It looked like it was going to be Tony’s day until a key hand turned everything on its head. Pre-flop, a super confident Tony G raised to 75K with 8s-6s and Tran called with 10h-8c. After the flop came 10d-Qh-6d Tony led out with 95K, which was called quickly by Tran. The turn brought a Qs and Tony bet 110K that prompted Tran to raise it up to 260K. Tony folded and JC gained the chip lead and there was no going back.

With the blinds at 20K/40K, Tran limped in with 9c-7d and Tony checked with Ks-8d. The flop came 5d-7h-6h and Tony G checked raised all-in only to be called by Tran. Tony needed a king, four or nine to double-up and take a formidable chip lead. The turn came Js and a 2s on the river gave Tran victory. “I brought my best game but it just wasn’t good enough,” said Tony G.

The best of the rest

The action at the start of the final table certainly didn’t take long to get going and it was the fifth hand of the night that swung the balance of power.

Unsurprisingly, Tom ‘Durrr’ Dwan was at the centre of the action, just like he had been all week. Tony G raised pre-flop with 10s-9h and was re-raised another 21,000 by Durrr with Qc-4c. Tony G called and the flop came down 4d-Jc-10c. Durrr bet 43K and Tony moved all-in. Tom’s super-aggressive play had been a factor all week throughout the heats and Tony G had put a massive marker down. Dwan called with a flush draw and the turn was a 3h with a Kh on the river. Tony G doubled up to 434K and with chips the ‘Mouth from Down Under’ started getting under the skin of his opponents as the verbals escalated. At that stage it looked like Tony G was the man to beat.

Even though Dwan was short stacked, 2008 WSOP Main Event champion Peter Eastgate was the first to exit. Eastgate had impressed all week and went to the final table second in chips. Most observers predicted that it would be a battle between the Dane and Tran for the title but he took a big hit when his Ks 9s ran into Tran’s pocket aces. His cards were no match on the final board of Js-Kd-5d-Jd-Ac.

Out in fifth was Roland De Wolfe whose Kd-Ks was crushed by Juha Helppi’s Ad-Qc when an ace came on the flop. As all of this was unfolding Tony G continued to talk, with commentator’s Jesse May and Phil Hellmuth convinced he was winning the psychological battle. It even seemed at certain points that he might be getting under the skin of super-cool Tran.

Dwan finally bit the dust in fourth place. It was none other than Tony G who sent him on his way when ‘Durrr’ found his 8h-6s up against Tony G’s Jc-8d. The flop came down 7s-8c-5h, Dwan failed to hit the open-ended straight draw and one of the most feared players of Premier League III was on his way.

Now, Tony G was in fine form, telling his rivals to get on their bikes. He was the chip leader, table captain and had more than double the stack of JC Tran. Finland’s Helppi, winner of the inaugural Premier League, was next to go in third place when his As-10d ran into Tony’s Ad-Qc and a queen came on the flop.

A spokesman said: “JC Tran was truly outstanding and there is no doubt at all that he is one cool cat and that he deserved to win. The standard of play all week from all the players involved was really something to remember.”

Eddie Hearn, Director of Matchroom Sport, said: “The Premier League III lived up to all expectations and then some. JC Tran’s performance was pure genius from beginning to end. This series has completely raised the bar for televised poker and we are already planning the next installment.”

Final Premier League III results and payouts:

1st JC Tran, $300,000
2nd Tony G, $150,000
3rd Juha Helppi, $80,000
4th Tom Dwan, $50,000
5th Roland De Wolfe, $40,000
6th Peter Eastgate, $30,000


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