2021 World Series of Poker

Johnny Chan

Johnny Chan
Nationality: United States
Nickname: Orient(al) Express
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Johnny Chan is a Chinese-American poker player who won the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event in 1987 and 1988.

He is one of three players tied on 10 WSOP bracelets alongside Phil Ivey and Doyle Brunson, with only Phil Hellmuth (15) having won more.

Chan was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2002.

WSOP Legend: Two-Time Main Event Champ Johnny Chan


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.

Related: Erik Seidel Looks Back on Johnny Chan and the Eye to the Sky

Jesse Alto finished ninth, the eighth time he finished in the top nine in the WSOP Main Event.

Johnny Chan

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.

Chan added bracelets in Seven Card Stud in 1994, and 2-7 Draw in 1997.

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

YearEventPayout (USD)
1985Event #2: $1,000 Limit Hold'em$171,000
1987Event #12: $10,000 NLHE WSOP Main Event$625,000
1988Event #12: $10,000 NLHE WSOP Main Event$700,000
1994Event #17: $1,500 Limit Seven Card Stud$135,600
1997Event #16: $5,000 No-Limit 2-7 Draw$164,250
2000Event #6: $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha$179,400
2002Event #9: $2,500 Heads-Up NLHE$34,000
2003Event #15: $5,000 NLHE$224,400
2003Event #24: $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha$158,100
2005Event #25: $2,500 Pot-Limit Hold'em$303,025

WSOP Main Event Winners 1979-88

1988167Johnny ChanUnited States$700,000
1987152Johnny ChanUnited States$625,000
1986141Berry JohnstonUnited States$570,000
1985140Bill SmithUnited States$700,000
1984132Jack KellerUnited States$660,000
1983108Tom McEvoyUnited States$540,000
1982104Jack StrausUnited States$520,000
198175Stu UngarUnited States$375,000
198073Stu UngarUnited States$385,000
197954Hal FowlerUnited States$270,000
197842Bobby BaldwinUnited States$210,000

PokerNews Covered Events

Event Place Prize
2019 World Series of Poker
Event #73: $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em MAIN EVENT - World Championship
560th $24560
2018 Caribbean Poker Party
$5,300 Main Event
144th $12500
2018 World Series of Poker
Event #65: $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em MAIN EVENT - World Championship
612th $21750
2012 World Series of Poker
Event 61: $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em Main Event
353rd $32871
2011 PokerStars.net APPT Macau
Main Event
60th 46700 HKD
2011 World Series of Poker
Event #16: $10,000 2-7 Draw Lowball Championship (No-Limit)
12th $24043
2010 World Series of Poker
Event #57: $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em Championship
156th $57102
2010 World Series of Poker
WSOP Tournament of Champions
3rd $100000
2009 PokerStars.net APPT Macau
APPT Macau High Rollers Event
2nd $154400
2009 Asian Poker Tour Macau
APT Macau Main Event
23rd $10450
2009 World Series of Poker
Event 29 - $10,000 World Championship Heads Up No Limit Hold'em
5th $92580
2008 PokerStars.net APPT Macau
High Rollers Event
7th $51282
2008 World Series of Poker
39th Annual World Series of Poker Main Event
329th $32166
2008 World Series of Poker
Event 28 - $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha w/ Rebuys
4th $246874
2008 World Series of Poker
Event 8 - $10,000 World Championship Mixed Event
13th $27072
2007 World Series of Poker
Event 23 - $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha
20th $5504
2007 World Series of Poker
Event 11 - $5,000 Seven Card Stud
18th $8460
2007 World Series of Poker
Event 1 - $5,000 Mixed Holdem
31st $13778

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