Tony Tran won the World Poker Tour Rolling Thunder Main Event Tuesday, beating his friend Jake Schwartz for the title. For the victory over a field of 250 entries, Tran won $279,270. It is the second WPT crown of his career.

The most fascinating part of Tran’s triumph is that it came over Schwartz. In October 2018, Tony Tran won the WPT bestbet Bounty Scramble Main Event in Jacksonville over…Jake Schwartz. It is the first time in World Poker Tour history that two players have met heads-up for the title twice.

“I feel really good that I’m actually a champion again,” Tran said to afterward. “It just shows that the first one was not a fluke.”

He added that the feeling of euphoria does not compare to his first WPT win, which is understandable, but there is an added feeling of pride over being a member of a select group of poker players to win multiple World Poker Tour titles.

As mentioned, the two men are buddies. They had drinks together at the table and will be sharing a hotel room at Bay 101 this week*.

“I’m probably going to needle him some tonight,” Tran said of Schwartz. “We’re going to dinner after this and he said if he beat me that he was going to rub it in my face about the bluff he pulled on me.”

As for that bluff, on a board of 6c-Ac-7c-3d-4d, Schwartz, who had Kc-9h and whiffed on his flush, moved all-in after Tran led out the betting with As-4h. Tran ended up folding his top pair.

Tran entered the final table as the short stack with 875,000 chips, so it was an uphill climb. Similarly, he was the second-shortest stack in Jacksonville a couple years ago. He didn’t make much progress for several orbits, but he was able to eliminate Shankar Pillai in sixth place to move up to 1.360 million chips. Soon afterward, he was up to 2.100 million, third in chips and one of three players above the 2 million chip mark.

With four players remaining (Tran also eliminated defending champ, Erkut Yilmaz), all four players had between 2 and 3 million chips. Tran was right back in it, but soon fell back under a million as Kevin Rabichow took off over the 5 million chip mark.

But Tran doubled through Schwartz and took two big pots off Rabichow to suddenly take the chip lead with 4.6 million, almost as many chips as the other three men had combined.

Tran did more damage, eliminating Rabichow in third place to climb to 6.350 million chips. And going into heads-up against Schwartz, he had a massive lead, 8.025 million to 1.975 million. Schwartz made a match of it, gaining some ground and lengthening the competition more than it looked like it was going to be, but ultimate he could not overcome that chip deficit.

On the final hand, Schwartz moved all-in for 1.35 million with J-T suited, only to be dominated by Tran’s Q-T. Schwartz did hit top pair and an open-ended straight draw on the J-9-8 flop, but that flop also gave Tran a straight. The turn and river did not help and Tran had his second WPT title.

2020 World Poker Tour Rolling Thunder Main Event – Final Table Results

  1. Tony Tran – $279,270
  2. Jake Schwartz – $177,680
  3. Robert Heidorn – $122,105
  4. Kevin Rabichow – $85,800
  5. Erkut Yilmaz – $61,685
  6. Shankar Pillai – $45,390

*Who knows what will happen with poker tournaments as coronavirus spreads, though.

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