Two NorCal WSOP winners so far

By Arnold Warner

It took a while, but by Event #50 of the 2013 World Series of Poker two Northern California players had claimed bracelets.

Marco Johnson winner of event #48 at the 2013 WSOP.

Marco Johnson winner of event #48 at the 2013 WSOP.

First to accomplish the feat was Walnut Creek’s Marco Johnson, who claimed the title in Event #48: Limit Hold’em/Six Handed. With a buy-in of $2,500 and 343 entries, Johnson took home $206,796 of the $780,325 prize pool along with the coveted bracelet.

Then, just one day later, Brandon Wong of Clovis took first place in Event #50: 10-Game Mix/Six Handed. This event also had a $2,500 buy-in and had 372 entries for a prize pool of $846,300 of which Wong received $220,061.

Johnson, a 27-year-old poker pro, has been having quite the series so far this year. Before winning his bracelet he had cashes in five earlier events, taking 8th, 13th, 28th, 2nd, and 22nd. As of press time he is sitting in fourth place on the WSOP Player of the Year leader board.

His second place finish in Event #31: Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better was the third time he had been runner-up in a WSOP event, one of which was last year in the same limit event he won this year.

After his big win he felt like he had the monkey off his back. “When you play these tournaments, you play them to win,” he said. The money is nice for second, but playing these tournaments is with one goal in mind, which is to win. When you don’t, you feel like you didn’t finish something, or you did something wrong, or you second guess yourself that if I would have done this or that differently. It’s nice when you win not to have that ‘I should have done this’ feeling.”

His poker career was inspired early on growing up in Walnut Creek, where his neighbor was the late Chip Reese’s sister.

“When I was about 12 years old I first heard about him,” Johnson said. “I made up my mind at 12 that I wanted to play poker for a living.” Over the next several years, Johnson got to know the Reese family even better, including Chip. He even visited the Las Vegas mansion of the late poker legend when he came to town on family vacations.

“Since I was very young my goal was to be a good mixed games player. I wanted to play in high-stakes games. So now, when I play inside the high-stakes room, I look up on the wall and see his picture. It’s a very cool feeling from so many years ago.”

With his victory, Johnson has established quite an impressive WSOP resume with nearly $1.4 million in earnings. He also expects to play more tournaments at this series and perhaps attend the WSOP-Europe since he’s now in serious contention for the Player of the Year.

For more than a decade Brandon Wong has been grinding out a good living playing middle- to high-stakes cash games around

Brandon Wong took first place in Event #50 at the 2013 WSOP.

Brandon Wong took first place in Event #50 at the 2013 WSOP.

California and Nevada, playing tournaments only occasionally. Despite that he has 21 WSOP cashes to his name for over $700,00, including runner-up finishes in 2007 ($3,000 limit Hold’em) and 2013 (WSOP Asia Pacific $2,200 mixed games).

Wong won his gold bracelet largely due to changing his approach to poker as the game itself evolved over the last ten years or so. He started out mostly playing limit Hold’em; however, as that game began to decline in popularity he began learning and improving in other games. He essentially changed with the times and was rewarded with a gold bracelet for branching out from his comfort zone.

The 10 games played in Event #50 were no-limit Hold’em, Razz, limit Hold’em, Badugi, Stud, no-limit 2-7 Draw, Omaha 8, pot-limit Omaha, 2-7 Triple Draw, and Stud 8.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Wong said. “I came close a few times before, so this feels really good. It’s like a weight off my shoulders.”

NorCal players who have cashed in the first 51 events of the
2013 World Series of Poker

Event #1 — Casino Employees No-Limit Hold’em: $500 buy-in, 898 entries, $404,100 prize pool

2nd, Allan Kwong, Oakland, $52,318

3rd, Robert Rooney, Oakland, $33,903

19th, Richard Lewis, Newark, $6,781

51st, Kevin Ouk, Stockton, $1,567

61st, Odessa Supapo, San Jose, $1,325

84th, Dong Nguyen, Stockton, $909

Event #3 – No-Limit Hold’em Re-Entry: $1,000 buy-in, 3,164 entries, $2,847,600 prize pool

32nd, Richard Harroch, San Francisco, $11,361

39th, Mehul Chaudhari, San Francisco, $9,283

49th, Victor Wan, Alameda, $7,660

75th, Hemanth Kumar, Sunnyvale, $4,556

100th, Thiagara Arumugam, Santa Clara, $2,961

118th, Anthony Niznik, Danville, $2,961

120th, Brian Vu, San Francisco, $2,961

143rd, Gilbert Anicete, San Ramon, $2,961

144th, Rudolph Vigil, Vallejo, $2,961

147th, William Mark Davis, McKinleyville, $2,619

172nd, Aaron Rondon, Pleasanton, $$2,619

278th, Leobardo Zamora, Danville, $2,107

300th, Deip Paul, San Jose, $1,907

303rd, Evan Schwartz, Oakland, $1,907

Event #4 – No-Limit Hold’em/Six Handed: $1,500 buy-in, 1,069 entries, $1,443,150 prize pool

35th, David Chase, Alameda, $6,551

68th, Gordon Vayo, San Francisco, $3,391

90th, Ron Lane, San Jose, $3,117

104th, Lev Ryzhikov, San Francisco, $2,871

106th, Sachin Bhargava, San Jose, $2,871

Event #6 – Millionaire Maker No-Limit Hold’em: $1,500 buy-in, 6,343 entries, $8,563,050 prize pool

53rd, Jeffery Oh, Campbell, $21,664

63rd, Soheil Ighani, Albany, $17,725

98th, Ivin Arquiza, Vallejo, $8,563

103rd, Paul Evans, Mount Shasta, $7,278

109th, Bobby Pham, Elk Grove, $7,278

126th, Min Ku, Chico, $7,278

130th, Jonathan Sison, Daly City, $7,278

142nd, Zachary Dowhower, South Lake Tahoe, $7,278

145th, Paul White, Livermore, $7,278

146th, Terry Wheeler, Granite Bay, $7,278

179th, Cherie Beasley, San Francisco, $6,165

229th, Adi Berman, San Francisco, $5,309

233rd, Peter Dirksen, San Francisco, $5,309

252nd, Zhengyu Guan, San Francisco, $5,309

269th, Irving Chen, San Francisco, $5,309

309th, Wilson Chan, Union City, $4,624

337th, Marko Kivi, San Francisco, $4,624

343rd, Kenneth Janke, San Leandro, $4,624

348th, Randy Lew, Mountain View, $4,624

359th, Eric Bergen, Atwater, $4,624

366th, Jihoon Kim, San Francisco, $4,024

381st, Ben Sarnoff, San Francisco, $4,024

396th, Scott Brian, Campbell, $4,024

448th, Kevin Iwanaga, San Ramon, $3,510

473rd, Kapil Karki, Foster City, $3,510

533rd, Faraz Jaka, San Jose, $3,082

539th, David Erisman, San Jose, $3,082

558th, Jonathan Finch, San Francisco, $3,082

586th, William Mark Davis, McKinleyville, $2,740

604th, Gordon Vayo, San Francisco, $2,740

615th, William Wendling, Emeryville, $2,740

628th, Cheeon Yue, San Jose, $2,740

636th, Chris Heid, San Francisco, $2,740

Event #7 – No-Limit Hold’em: $1,000 buy-in, 1,837 entries, $1,653,300 prize pool

3rd, Jess Dioquino, San Francisco, $130,825

8th, Tuu Ho, San Jose, $29,147

24th, John Cline, Sunnyvalle, $8,927

26th, Michael Bokan, Sacramento, $8,927

27th, Erkle Mankin, Sacramento, $8,927

62nd, Marc Rosenberg, San Rafael, 4,298

77th, Kenny Shei, Menlo Park, $3,207

95th, Brian Park, Los Altos, $2,513

103rd, Scott Laird, Pinole, $2,248

115th, John Bettencourt, Stockton, $2,248

116th, Deip Paul, San Jose, $2,248

Event #8 – Eight-Game Mix: $2,500 buy-in, 388 entries, $882,700

8th, Marco Johnson, Walnut Creek, $20,699

22nd, Rostislav Tsodikov, Daly City, $6,796

Event #9 – No-Limit Hold’em Shootout: $3,000 buy-in, 477 entries, $1,302,210 prize pool

4th, Tim West, Los Altos, $91,428

7th, Max Steinberg, Oakland, $39,756

Event #10 – Limit Hold’em: $1,500 buy-in, 645 entries, $870,750 prize pool

4th, Chiduziem Obi, Campbell, $56,485

33rd, Matt Lefkowitz, Carmel Valley, $4,876

42nd, Brad Anderson, Modesto, $4,048

50th, Shahriar Namjouy, Walnut Creek,$3,395

63rd, Billy Huynh, San Francisco, $2,873

Event #11 – No-Limit Hold’em/Six Handed: $2,500 buy-in, 924 entries, $2,102,100

19th, Marc Alioto, San Rafael, $14,042

83rd, J.C. Tran, Sacramento, $4,540

87th, Tyler Meeks, Redding, $4,540

Event #12 – Pot-Limit Hold’em: $1,500 buy-in, 535 entries, $722,250 prize pool

19th, Paul Evans, Mount Shasta, $5,185

33rd, Glenn Kaplan, Oakland, $4,189

Event #13 – Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better: $5,000 buy-in, 210 entries, $987,000 prize pool

13th, Marco Johnson, Walnut Creek, $13,877

Event #14 – No-Limit Hold’em: $1,500 buy-in, 1,819 entries, $2,455,650 prize pool

32nd, Andres Garcia, Saliinas, $10,853

133rd, Todd Start, San Rafael, $3,020

149th, Wei Yeh, Concord, $3,020

187th, Jamie McCarrel, Lafayette, $2,774

193rd, Roger Fang, San Jose, $2,774

Event #15 – H.O.R.S.E.: $1,500 buy-in, 862 entries, $1,163,700 prize pool

55th, Rostislav Tsodikov, Daly City, $3,758

Event #16 – Heads Up No-Limit Hold’em: $10,000 buy-in, 162 entries, $1,522,800 prize pool

6th, Randy Lew, Mountain View, $54,024

Event #17 – No-Limit Hold’em: $1,500 buy-in, 2,105 entries, $2,841,750 prize pool

30th, Craig Gold, Belmont, $12,503

33rd, Evan Schwartz, Oakland, $12,503

74th, Mario Trujillo, San Mateo, $5,271

85th, Scott Reaves, Hanford, $4,546

91st, Christopher Gonzales, Fremont, $3,978

102nd, Jeremiah Leon, Yuba City, $3,537

155th, Brent Blackaby, Berkeley, $3,182

163rd, Hafiz Khan, Stockton, $3,182

Event #18 – No-Limit Hold’em: $1,000 buy-in, 2,071 entries, $1,863,900 prize pool

19th, David McEwan, Oakland, $10,046

99th, Dominic Oaxaca, Lodi, $2,609

116th, George Cook, San Francsico, $2,320

137th, Gerardo Murillo, South San Francisco, $2,087

Event #19 – Pot-Limit Hold’em: $5,000 buy-in, 195 entries, $916,500

6th, Kristina Holst, Palo Alto, $44,844

26th, Tommy Chen, San Jose, $7,881

Event #20 – Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better: $1,500 buy-in, 1,104 entries, $1,368,900 prize pool

27th, Max Steinberg, Oakland, $8,377

56th, Andrew Barber, Sacramento, 4,366

73rd, Huynh Cao, San Jose, $3,408

91st, Matt Lefkowitz, Carmel Valley, $2,819

96th, Marc Wolenik, Santa Rosa, $2,819

Event #21 – No-Limit Hold’em/Six Handed: $3,000 buy-in, 807 entries, $2,205,840 prize pool

33rd, Hafiz Khan, Stockton, $10,574

38th, Tim West, Los Altos, $9,032

81st, Alexey Yemtsev, Hayward, $5,023

85th, Faraz Jaka, San Jose, $5,023

Event #22 – Pot Limit Omaha: $1,500 buy-in, 1,022 entries, $1,378,350 prize pool

28th, Marco Johnson, Walnut Creek, $7,050

33rd, Joseph Page, Concord, $7,050

39th, Tanya Kirk, San Jose, $5,960

103rd, Gordon Vayo, San Francisco, $2,621

Event #23 – Seven Card Stud: $2,500 buy-in, 246 entries, $559,650 prize pool

16th, Lavonne Joyce, Vacaville, $5,680

Event #24 – No-Limit Hold’em: $1,500 buy-in, 1,731 entries, $2,336,850 prize pool

124th, Derrick Yamada, Sacramento, $3,178

129th, Jeremiah Leon, Yuba City, $2,874

152nd, Robert Sipchen, San Francisco, $2,874

Event #26 – Seniors No-Limit Hold’em Championship: $1,000 buy-in, 4,407 entries, $3,966,300 prize pool

42nd, Randall Rapp, Fresno, $12,771

55th, Pablo Estrada, Santa Rosa, $8,448

98th, Lawrence Schirmer, San Jose, $4,045

120th, Axel Werner, San Jose, $3,411

137th, Raymond Delagnes, Santa Rosa, $3,411

143rd, Lora Stewart, Elk Grove, $3,411

166th, Blaine Powell, San Leandro, $2,895

168th, Dale Sinor, Aptos, $2,895

207th, Richard Abe, San Jose, $2,895

261st, Shawn Lober, Danville, $2,498

277th, Michael Tomaselli, Discovery Bay, $2,498

304th, Stephen Kreig, Santa Rosa, $2,181

345th, David Bannister, Santa Rosa, $2,181

353rd, Mark Zika, Dublin, $2,181

412th, Darrell Cain, Fair Oaks, $1,903

418th, Ronald Mossbarger, Chico, $1,903

Event #27 – Mixed Max – No-Limit Hold’em: $3,000 buy-in, 593 entries, $1,618,890 prize pool

2nd, Max Steinberg, Oakland, $231,501

65th, Tommy Chen, San Jose, $4,694

Event #28 – No-Limit Hold’em: $1,500 buy-in, 2,115 entries, $2,855,250 prize pool

52nd, Xian Tang, Foster City, $8,622

76th, Felipe Quijano, Fremont, $5,296

118th, Joshua Shaw, Sacramento, $3,554

146th, David Forster, Alameda, $3,197

165th, Sarah Tolagson, Monterey, $3,197

Event #30 – No-Limit Hold’em: $1,000 buy-in, 2,108 entries, $1,897,200 prize pool

30th, Gabriel Lucero, Pleasanton, $8,347

39th, Randy Lew, Mountain View, $6,905

61st, Ronald Dechance, San Jose, $4,818

108th, Sam Lee, Stockton, $2,362

138th, Juan Esparza, Concord, $2,124

172nd, Jennifer Avila, Modesto, $1,935

Event #31 – Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better: $1,500 buy-in, 936 entries, $1,263,600 prize pool

2nd, Marco Johnson, Walnut Creek, $158,379

20th, Tom West, Los Altos, $7,733

61st, Omar Mehmood, Foster City, $4,030

91st, Danny Smith, Folsom, $2,603

96th, Prince of Docness, Santa Cruz, $2,603

102nd, Tommy Chen, San Jose, $2,400

Event #32 – No-Limit Hold’em/Six Handed: $5,000 buy-in, 516 entries, $2,425,200 prize pool

15th, Max Steinberg, Oakland, $23,791

Event #33 – Seven Card Razz: $2,500 buy-in, 301 entries, $684,775 prize pool

14th, Tommy Chen, San Jose, $8,552

Event #34 – Turbo No-Limit Hold’em: $1,000 buy-in, 1,629 entries, $1,466,100 prize pool

15th, Sarah Tolagson, Monterey, $12,373

34th, Gordon Vayo, San Francisco, $6,729

59th, Jason Lotridge, Dixon, $4,105

70th, Tim West, Los Altos, $3,577

136th, Daniel Corona, San Jose, $2,111

Event #35 – Pot-Limit Omaha: $3,000 buy-in, 640 entries, $1,747,200 prize pool

50th, Tom West, Los Altos, $6,814

Event #36 – No-Limit Hold’em Shootout: $1,500 buy-in, 1,194 entries, $1,611,900 prize pool

33rd, Erkut Yilmaz, Sacramento, $5,556

114th, Rellie Sigua, San Bruno, $5,556

Event #38 – No-Limit Hold’em/Four Handed: $2,500 buy-in, 566 entries, $1,287,650 prize pool

53rd, Faraz Jaka, San Jose, $4,712

Event #39 – Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better: $1,500 buy-in, 558 entries, $753,300 prize pool

2nd, Joseph Hertzog, Visalia, $114,109

22nd, Matt Savage, South San Francisco, $5,273

Event #40 – No-Limit Hold’em: $1,500 buy-in, 2,161 entries, $2,917,350 prize pool

31st, Brandon Yu, Oakland, $12,223

50th, Danny Smith, Folsom, $8,372

90th, Ronald Larsen, Redding, $4,492

114th, J.C. Tran, Sacramento, $3,500

144th, Maziyar Zarrabianfard, San Jose, $3,150

150th, Christine La Monaca, San Francisco, $3,150

202nd, Marc Mestrovich, Manteca, $2,888

215th, Huihan Wu, San Francisco, $2,625

240th, Raphael Rodriguez, $2,625

Event #42 – No-Limit Hold’em: $1,000 buy-in, 2,100 entries, $1,890,000 prize pool

93rd, Isaac Baron, Los Gatos, $2,646

168th, Michael Labarbera, San Jose, $2,116

187th, Sheldon Fine, Vallejo, $1,927

Event #44 – No-Limit Hold’em: $3,000 buy-in, 1,072 entries, $2,926,560 prize pool

12th, Evan Schwartz, Oakland, $33,421

22nd, Marco Johnson, Walnut Creek, $17,910

62nd, Andres Garcia, Salinas, $9,335

80th, Faraz Jaka, San Jose, $7,287

113th, Randy Lew, Mountain View, $5,560

Event #45 – Ante Only No-Limit Hold’em: $1,500 buy-in, 678 entries, $915,300 prize pool

34th, J.C. Tran, Sacramento, $5,125

41st, Ray Villaman, Truckee, $4,256

60th, Rahul Byrraju, Fremont, $3,020

Event #47 – One Drop High Rollers No-Limit Hold’em: $111,111 buy-in, 166 entries, $17,891,148 prize pool

5th, Richard Fullerton, San Francisco, $1,066,491

Event #48 – Limit Hold’em/Six Handed: $2,500 buy-in, 343 entries, $780,325 prize pool

1st, Marco Johnson, Walnut Creek, $206,796

5th, Michael Schiffman, Walnut Creek, $38,095

19th, Richard Lewis, Newark, $6,781

Event #49 – No-Limit Hold’em: $1,500 buy-in, 2,247 entries, $3,033,450 prize pool

7th, Paul Dasilva, Escalon, $69,192

22nd, Gordon Vayo, San Francisco, $15,622

25th, Yun Lo, Livermore, $15,622

43rd, James Strong, Arcata, $10,465

50th, Craig Carrillo, Santa Rosa, $8,706

69th, Larry Cassity, Sacramento, $6,248

103rd, John Dull, Fresno, $3,640

110th, Daniel Peracchi, $3,640

127th, Faraz Jaka, San Jose, $3,640

Event #50 – 10-Game Mix/Six Handed: $2,500 buy-in, 372 entries, $846,300 prize pool

1st, Brandon Wong, Clovis, $220,061

Event #51 – Ladies No-Limit Hold’em Championship: $10,000 buy-in*, 954 entries, $858,600 prize pool

4th, Shana Matthews, Mill Valley, $48,871

19th, Ping Wang, San Mateo, $5,254

21st, Laura Bare, Santa Cruz, $5,254

45th, Julia Rea, Felton, $3,709

48th, Halli Pinson, Los Gatos, $3,168

95th, Lisa Vanageatigul, San Jose, $1,768

105th, Serena Liu, Sunnyvale, $1,631