Johnny Chan is surely one of the most recognisable and widely known poker players on the planet. His record of World Series of Poker (WSOP) is enviable and to date he has won 10 WSOP bracelets, indicating ten wins at the various events and games.
Back to the beginning though and Chan was born in the Canton of Guangzhou in China in 1957 before emigrating to the United States with his family in 1968, firstly to Arizona and later to Houston where he was expected to become involved in the family restaurant business.
That plan fell through however after Johnny became interested in poker after a visit to Las Vegas. He had already picked up elements of the game at the bowling alley he frequented in Houston but at the age of 16 he managed to sneak into a Las Vegas casino for a couple of nights, winning on the first night and losing on the second.
He returned to Houston to continue his education with regards to the family business also stuck with the poker, eventually dropping out of college at 21 to become a poker pro. His first notable win came in 1981 at Bob Stupak’s American Cup poker tournament where he defeated all nine players at the final table in less than one hour, hence Stupak’s name for Chan – the Orient Express.
Chan’s first bracelet win was in 1985 and the game was Limit Hold’em, the amount won was $171,000. He followed this with something that may never be repeated, winning two bracelets two years running for winning the main event. It is though that the huge fields entering the tournaments now will make this a feat unlikely to be copied. Chan is tied at second place with Doyle Brunson on bracelets won with Phil Hellmuth one ahead on 11.
Johnny Chan has banked an estimated $8,500,000 million in his career with about half of that coming from WSOP events. He is still a regular tournament player and can often be seen on TV playing invitational live events.
Johnny Chan’s 1988 WSOP main event win against Eric Siedel