Johnny Chan is a Chinese-American poker player who won the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event in 1987 and 1988.
Chan was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2002.
Chan was born in China in 1957, and moved to the United States with his family to Arizona in 1968. After a few years spent there, Chan and his family relocated to Texas where his family owned a restaurant in Houston. Planning to keep with tradition and take over the family business, Johnny took classes at the University of Houston. But at 21, he decided to take a different road and become a professional poker player.
He moved to Las Vegas, taking on temporary jobs in order to pad his bankroll. By the early 1980s, he was beginning to pull in consistent winnings, and won Bob Stupak's 1981 America's Cup tournament. As Stupak observed him eliminate 13 of the last 16 players in just over 30 minutes, Stupak dubbed him the "Orient Express," a nickname that has stuck with him ever since.
Chan first cashed at the WSOP in 1983, winning his first bracelet in 1985 in a $1,000 Limit Hold'em event for $171,000.
1987 WSOP Main Event
The 1987 WSOP Main Event attracted 152 entries, with Chan winning the tournament for $625,000. Former WSOP Main Event champions Walter "Puggy" Pearson (17th - $12,500) and Bobby Baldwin (21st - $10,000) and Johnny Moss (26th - $10,000) all cashed in the event.
Chan defeated Frank Henderson heads-up after his ace-nine beat the fours of his opponent thanks to a nine of the river. 1987 was a pivotal year for the WSOP, with three of the top 11 players were from New York, a marked change from the origins of the tournament as purely the domain of Texas road gamblers.
1988 WSOP Main Event
The following year, Chan took the chip lead into the Main Event final table, but by the time the tournament reached heads-up, the chip lead had swung in favour of Erik Seidel. Chan clawed his way back, but Seidel would double to hold a 3:1 chip lead.
Once again, Chan fought back and secured victory, winning a second Main Event title.
Jesse Alto finished ninth, the eighth time he finished in the top nine in the WSOP Main Event.
Johnny Chan and the WSOP
The following year, Chan almost made it three-in-a-row, but fell at the final hurdle, finishing second to Phil Hellmuth.
After the turn of the Millenium, Chan didn't let up adding bracelets in 2000, 2002 and 2003 (2).
In 2005, Chan became the first player to win ten WSOP bracelets, winning $303,025 in a $2,500 Pot-Limit Hold'em event.
Johnny Chan and Rounders
The cult poker movie 'Rounders' was released in 1998, a year after Chan's second WSOP Main Event victory. During the film, poker player Mike McDermott, played by Matt Damon, watches footage of Chan's final hand against Seidel in the 1988 Main Event.
"Did you have it?" "I'm sorry John, I don't remember" —Rounders (1998)
Filmmakers asked Chan whether the footage could be used, and Chan agreed. His eventual cameo in the film, with McDermott bluffing the two-time WSOP Main Event Champion, only came about after his daughter urged him to ask for a part in the film.
Chan himself has said that he began to get recognized a lot more after the movie.
Johnny Chan WSOP Bracelets
|1985||Event #2: $1,000 Limit Hold'em||$171,000|
|1987||Event #12: $10,000 NLHE WSOP Main Event||$625,000|
|1988||Event #12: $10,000 NLHE WSOP Main Event||$700,000|
|1994||Event #17: $1,500 Limit Seven Card Stud||$135,600|
|1997||Event #16: $5,000 No-Limit 2-7 Draw||$164,250|
|2000||Event #6: $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha||$179,400|
|2002||Event #9: $2,500 Heads-Up NLHE||$34,000|
|2003||Event #15: $5,000 NLHE||$224,400|
|2003||Event #24: $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha||$158,100|
|2005||Event #25: $2,500 Pot-Limit Hold'em||$303,025|
WSOP Main Event Winners 1979-88
|1988||167||Johnny Chan||United States||$700,000|
|1987||152||Johnny Chan||United States||$625,000|
|1986||141||Berry Johnston||United States||$570,000|
|1985||140||Bill Smith||United States||$700,000|
|1984||132||Jack Keller||United States||$660,000|
|1983||108||Tom McEvoy||United States||$540,000|
|1982||104||Jack Straus||United States||$520,000|
|1981||75||Stu Ungar||United States||$375,000|
|1980||73||Stu Ungar||United States||$385,000|
|1979||54||Hal Fowler||United States||$270,000|
|1978||42||Bobby Baldwin||United States||$210,000|