The legend of Johnny Chan began in 1957 in Guangzhou, China, where Johnny was born. Before Johnny’s 16th birthday, his family had migrated to the US and moved from Phoenix, AZ to Houston, TX in the pursuit of growing the family restaurant business. Johnny worked hard for the family business and at the age of 16, the Chan clan took a trip to Vegas.
Like so many other great players Johnny sat down at a table with $500 and a fake ID. By the end of that very night, he would turn that $500 into $20,000. But by the end of the next night, he had lost everything.
At age 18, Johnny Chan was sent to the University of Houston to study restaurant and hotel management, with the poker bug gnawing at the back of his mind all along. When he turned 21, the man known as “The Perfect Player” abruptly dropped out of the University of Houston, moved to Las Vegas with all of a $300 bankroll and sat down at any table with stakes lower than $3.
He would pawn jewelry and prized personal items to fund his cigarette-filled poker binges, and he survived, but he did not prosper until he became proactive in dealing with his physical health. Johnny Chan quit smoking, began working out and eating healthy food and began to see his fortunes improving. It was then that Johnny Chan started using his now famous orange charm at the poker table: to combat the smoky rooms of Vegas card-houses and casinos, Johnny Chan would carry a ripe orange to use as his own personal air freshener.
Before we get to the laundry list of Johnny Chan’s poker accomplishments, let’s look at two of them a little closer.
In 1987, Johnny Chan won the World Series of Poker $10,000 Buy-in Main Event. In 1988 Johnny Chan won the World Series of Poker $10,000 Buy-in Main Event. In early 1989, Los Angeles Lakers owner and High Stakes gambler Jerry Buss made Johnny Chan a promise: if Johnny could win a third straight Main Event then Buss would give him a Lakers championship ring. But another legend was on the rise – Johnny came in second in 1989 to the then unknown Phil Hellmuth Jr. There has never been a better three year run in the history of the Main Event than Johnny Chan’s 1st, 1st, 2nd consecutive finishes in the 1987, 1988 and 1989 WSOPs.
Here are some of Johnny Chan’s major poker achievements:
- 10 WSOP bracelets (second most all-time behind Phil Hellmuth Jr.) in 6 different games: Limit, NL, and PL Hold’em; 7 Card Stud; PL Omaha and Deuce to Seven Draw.
- Reached semi-finals of every Poker Superstars Invitational Tournament (he finished 2nd and 1st in years 1 and 2 respectively.)
- Three different Poker After Dark victories (most all-time.)
- Knocked 13 out of 16 total players in Bob Stupak’s America’s Cup Tournament. An impressive enough feat even if you don’t consider that Chan did it in 30 minutes.
- Featured in the movie “Rounders.”
Johnny Chan is also the father of 6 children and is the owner of a restaurant franchise based in the Stratosphere hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada where he lives.
Johnny Chan’s game analysis (by Barry Greenstein):
- Aggressiveness: 6
- Looseness: 4
- Short-handed: 6
- Limit: 6
- No-limit: 8
- Tournaments: 7
- Side games: 7
- Steam control: 8
- Against weak players: 7
- Against strong players: 7