With only a few World Series of Poker events in the books at press time, many NorCal players have made deep runs. In Event 1 ($500 casino employees), San Jose resident Kevin Chiem made his first WSOP final table, finishing ninth for $6K. This was Chiem’s third cash in this event, finishing 32nd in 2005 and 31st in 2010. Another local player, Aaron Hernandez from Santa Rosa, narrowly missed the final table (11th, $5K).
Event 2 ($25K mixed-max) featured one of the most prolific players to come out of Northern California. J.C. Tran fought his way through one of the toughest fields, finishing fourth for $290K. Tran’s most recent victory was on his home turf in Sacramento, where he won the World Poker Tour Rolling Thunder at Thunder Valley Casino Resort for $320K. A few months earlier, Tran finished runner-up at the WPT Alpha 8 high roller event for a $476K.
NorCal players were represented in Event 6 ($1.5K shootout) by Steven Geralis of Lodi, finishing 11th for $14K. This was Geralis’ first career WSOP cash, but he’s no stranger to success. His most notable cash was at the 2013 Thunder Valley Players Championship, winning the $425 deepstack event for $42K.
Event 7 ($1.5K razz) featured none other than “Poker Brat” Phil Hellmuth, who resides in Palo Alto, at the final table. Hellmuth, celebrating the 25th anniversary of his WSOP main-event victory, is the most popular player in Northern California history and maybe even the world. In what usually is considered the most lackluster tournament at the WSOP, excitement arose at the Rio when Hellmuth got heads-up with Ted Forrest. This blast-from-the-past heads-up match lasted hours with Forrest denying Hellmuth his 14th bracelet. This was Hellmuth’s 50th WSOP final table and 101st WSOP cash. He earned $74K for his runner-up finish and still holds the record as the most decorated player with 13 gold bracelets.
With Northern California manifesting some of the greatest players in the game today, it’s clear to see why the Bay Area and beyond will be strongly represented in this year’s WSOP.
JACKSON RANCHERIA: On July 6 and Aug. 3, the Jackson Rancheria poker room is hosting a $5K freeroll series. You need 25 hours of play each month to qualify. Be sure to check out the ad in our July issue for more details and call the poker room at 800-822-9466 if you have questions.
— Email Garrett at firstname.lastname@example.org.