Popularly known as the best poker player in the world, Johnny Chan has become a legend in the world of poker. He currently has ten bracelets to his name, and for real, this is not a small feat. If you have not ever heard of Johnny, it is either you are new to poker or you know nothing about the game. For over twenty years, Johnny has consistently won in the highest and biggest buy-in tournament events and big money cash poker games.
Chan is also a popular face on different television networks, including Fox Sports Net, ESPN, and NBC. He has also featured in movies and has done about everything you can imagine in the world of poker. Chan is no doubt a force to reckon with in the field of poker and there is no way we can talk about professional pokers that we will not mention his name. Therefore, we have dedicated this article to explore the life of Johnny Chan. We will look at his early life, early poker career, personal life, his best games, highlights of his big wins, and of course, Johnny Chan net worth. We assure you that reading the information we have detailed about this poker legend is worth your reading.
Early Life of Johnny Chan
Johnny Chan is undoubtedly one of the best and most popular poker players in the world. It goes without saying that he is a legend in the world of poker. Over the course of his career, he has won two different World Series of Poker (WSOP) championship titles back to back in 1987 and 1988. He also has ten World Series of Poker bracelets with his name written on it. With all the glamor and beauty of his current life and career, it is very easy for people to assume that he had it easy from the on-set. However, this is very far from the truth. Johnny’s journey to success has not always been smooth. He has had his share of ups and down like the rest of his colleagues.
Johnny is a Chinese-born American born in the year 1957. He was born in Guangzhou, China and lived the first five years of his life in his home country. In the year 1962, Chan’s family moved from their hometown, Guangzhou, to Hong Kong. Not long after this, the family moved again to Phoenix, Arizona in the year 1968. In 1973, they moved again to Houston Texas and opened a family owned restaurants in the city. For most of his childhood, Johnny was on the move. When his family moved to Texas, Chan has a lot to deal with. First on the list was his difficulty in using the English language. Second, it was hard for him to adapt to the American culture and lifestyle, especially when he started attending schools, first in Phoenix and then in Houston.
Chan was sixteen years when the family settled in Houston, Texas. Prior to this period, his academic pursuits were constantly altered due to the regular movement from one place to another. During his teenage years, he helped with his family’s restaurant business. When he is free, he regularly practiced at the local bowling alley with some of his peers. It was during one of his visit to the local bowling alley that he was introduced to poker. It was not long after this that he discovered his passion for poker games.
Johnny enrolled at the University of Houston and majored in Hotel and Restaurant management. However, he dropped out of the University at the age of 21 without completing his degree. When he left school, he moved to Las Vegas and started playing at poker tables. He began to develop his skills and pick one or two tricks from the experienced players he met at the table. It wasn’t long after his move to Las Vegas; Chan became a professional poker player.
Johnny Chan Early Poker Career
Johnny was introduced to poker at the age of sixteen and from the on-set; it was obvious that Chan has a knack for the game. Not long after his discovery, he began to play with older and experienced poker players. In spite of his age and little to no experience in the game, Johnny Chan was doubling his earnings consistently at poker tables. It all started as a past-time but within a short a period, it had become a big deal for Chan. He began to play underground games with other experienced players in the basement of his father’s restaurant and before long, he began to attract attention. Johnny began to win week after week and started dominating the game arena.
At this point, other players began to avoid him and looked for ways to boycott him from their games. With this development, Chan decided to take his gaming career from his locality and aim higher. He believed that he could do better and win bigger games if he moved outside of Houston, and that was exactly what he did. Chan made his first visit to Las Vegas at the age of sixteen when he sat at table illegally with some $500 USD bills in his hands.
On that night, he made his first big win; he won a total of $20,000 at the table. Unfortunately, he lost all the money at the table the following night. This experience was a turnaround for Chan and it further reinforced his passion for the game and his determination to pursue the game as a career. This is the start of the growth of Johnny Chan net worth in the world of poker.
It is important to mention that Chan had other plans for his career before he was introduced to poker. Before he made up his mind about pursuing poker as a career, his initial intention was to continue his family restaurant business. However, when he turned 21, he dropped out of school, University of Houston, and finally moved to Las Vegas to pursue his dream. Chan began playing at $3 games because of his very low bankroll at the beginning. He never gave up on the game and he continued to strive to grow his bankroll. In the process, he won some and lost some, but he kept at it.
At some point, he sold off his possessions to bankroll his games. He also made some lifestyle changes to accommodate his new personality and determination. He quit smoking and began to develop a healthy lifestyle. Prior to this period, Chan smoked four packs of cigarettes on a daily basis but with the new lifestyle, he stopped smoking and started eating right and exercising.
He began to participate in tournaments from this point. His first major tournament was the Bob Stupak’s America’s Cup Tournament. Of course, he was practically unknown in the world of poker at this period and not many people paid special attention to his game. However, within the first thirty minutes of his game, he had beaten thirteen out of the sixteen players without breaking a sweat. At this point, players started paying attention to him. It was at this game that Johnny got his nickname, Orient Express. It is a popular knowledge that Johnny’s style of playing is very aggressive. He has been referred to countless number of times as a bully at tables.
As far as poker games and gambling is concerned, Johnny Chan has become a role model for many players. He has amassed great wealth and currently, Johnny Chan net worth is in several millions of dollars. With his debut in the world of poker, many Asian players began to surface. The vast presence of professional Asian poker players at professional poker tournament circuits today can be attributed to the encouragement that Chan has given to his people.
Johnny Chan Professional Poker Career
Sometimes in the late 80s, Johnny Chan finally made it to fame. He won the WSOP (World Series of Poker) tournaments in 1987 and 1988 consecutively. He was almost going to win for the third consecutive time in 1989 but he finished in the second place. He was defeated by Phil Hellmuth. Johnny is the last player to have won back to back at World Series of Poker Main Events which was quite a big deal.
It is believed that he will hold this title for a very long time, if not forever, given the fact that the world of poker has grown immensely with loads of talents and expertise. At the time of his winning, Jerry Buss, the Los Angeles Lakers owner and a poker enthusiast, informed Johnny that he would offer him an NBA championship ring if he was able to win the WSOP titles in three consecutive times. Unfortunately, he was not able to achieve the feat.
In the year 2005, Johnny Chan broke another record. He became the first player to have won a total of ten World Series of Poker titles when he defeated Phil Laak in a game of $2,500 Pot Limit Hold’ Em. He holds the record of second place with Doyle Brunson as both of them have won ten World Series of Poker bracelets individually. The first position is held by Phil Hellmuth who has a total of 14 bracelets to his name.
In the February of 2005, Johnny participated in the $400,000 Poker Superstars Invitational Tournament. From only $20,000 chips out of the total $3,200,000 cash in play at the game, he made it to the second place position after Gus Hansen. The winning at this game significantly contributed to Johnny Chan net worth. He also participated in the Poker Superstars 2 in the summer of 2005. He won against twenty two of the best poker players at the table and made it to the finals. He went ahead to defeat Todd Brunson after three matches at the finals and won the $400,000 USD first cash prize.
As it is to be expected, fame comes with a lot of exposure to media. Not long, the outstanding achievements of Chan became a topic in media. His various victories at tables were talked about and well documented in radio interviews, magazines, newspapers, mini-series, television programs, local news broadcasts, and in movies. Johnny began to take his place in media spotlight and his brilliant personality became the love of many poker enthusiasts.
His World Series of Poker victory of 1988 against Erik Seidel was featured in a film in 1998. The film is titled Rounders and it starred Matt Damon and Edward Norton. Chan also have a cameo appearance in the film and also practiced the sport of the game with the actors and provided them with bluffing tips between the takes. In addition to his appearance in Hollywood, he has also filmed some segments for ESPN series of shows.
In the course of his career, Johnny Chan has signed numerous exciting deals that will make some other professional poker players green with envy. Taking insights from the various games, winnings, and endorsement deals that he has signed, one can confidently say that Johnny Chan net worth is in the league of the top echelon of professional poker player in the industry. In the year 2002, Chan was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame, taking his place among the legends in the industry.
Johnny Chan Business Enterprises
It is obvious that Chan has not forgotten where it all started from. Although he is a professional poker player, he still retains his interest in the restaurant’s business. It is therefore not a surprise to discover that he currently has his own fast-food franchise in Las Vegas Stratosphere Hotel. It is essential to remember that Chan’s family owns a restaurant in Houston and this was where Johnny began his quest for achievement in the world of poker.
Apart from his restaurant business, he also consults for numerous game makers and casinos. All these deals and business has immensely added to Johnny Chan net worth. According to Johnny, his ultimate goal in life is to own and manage his own casino platform. Well, given his background and doggedness to go after his goals and passion, and his track records in the world of poker, this aspiration is definitely not a tall order for him. We believe it is something he will eventually achieve with time.
Highlights of Johnny Chan Major Poker Tournaments
|PokerStars ACOP – Event 8 No-Limit Hold’Em ACOP Warm-Up||2012||$3,226||$37,546|
|42nd Annual World Series of Poker – Deuce-to-seven Lowball Championship||2011||$10,000||$24,043|
|41stAnnual World Series of Poker – World Series of Poker Main Event||2010||$10,000||$57,102|
|41st Annual World Series of Poker – Tournament of Champions||2010||$0||$100,000|
|WTP L.A Poker Classic Main Event||2010||$9,700||$67,944|
|APPT Macau High Rollers Event – Event 17||2009||$11,458||$154,408|
|39th Annual World Series of Poker – Event 28 Pot Limit Omaha with Rebuys||2008||$4,700||$246,874|
|2007 Wynn Classic – No Limit Hold’ Em Championship Event||2007||$10,000||$38,412|
|Poker Superstars Invitational Tournament Season 2 – Grand Final||2005||$0||$400,000|
|36th Annual World Series of Poker – Pot-Limit Hold’Em||2005||$32,500||$303,025|
|34th World Series of Poker – Pot Limit Omaha||2003||$5,000||$158,100|
|34th World Series of Poker – No Limit Hold’Em||2003||$5,000||$224,400|
|31st World Series of Poker – Pot Limit Omaha||2000||$1,500||$179,400|
|28th World Series of Poker – No Limit Deuce to Seven Draw||1997||$5,000||$164,250|
|25th World Series of Poker – Seven Card Stud||1994||$1,500||$135,600|
|1994 L.A. Poker Classic III – No Limit Deuce to Seven Lowball||1994||$1,000||$39,050|
|Queens Poker Classic – Pot Limit Hold’Em||1994||$1,000||$50,400|
|Hall of Fame Poker Classic – Championship Event No Limit Hold’Em||1989||$5,000||$232,000|
|Hall of Fame Poker Classic – Championship Event No Limit Hold’Em||1988||$5,000||$194,000|
|19th World Series of Poker – No Limit Hold’Em World Championship||1988||$10,000||$700,000|
|18th World Series of Poker – No Limit Hold’Em World Championship||1987||$10,000||$625,000|
|16th World Series of Poker – Limit Hold’Em||1985||$1,000||$171,000|
Johnny Chan World Series of Poker Bracelets
|$1,000 Limit Hold’Em||1985||$171,000|
|$10,000 No Limit Hold’Em World Championship||1987||$625,000|
|$10,000 No Limit Hold’Em World Championship||1988||$700,000|
|$1,500 Seven Card Stud||1994||$135,600|
|$5,000 Deuce to Seven Draw||1997||$164,250|
|$1,500 Pot Limit Omaha||2000||$178,800|
|$2,500 No Limit Hold’Em Gold Bracelet Match Play||2002||$34,000|
|$5,000 No Limit Hold’Em||2003||$224,400|
|$5,000 Pot Limit Omaha||2003||$158,100|
|$2,500 Pot Limit Hold’Em||2005||$303,025|
Johnny Chan Appearance in Poker After Dark
As it is with many poker pro, appearance in Poker After Dark is almost a given. Johnny has also made appearances on prestigious NBC late show, Poker After Dark. This is a 6-person $20,000 buy-in and winner takes it all tournaments. Johnny had made six appearances at the show and won four times out of the six appearances. He finished in the second place and fifth place in the two remaining appearances.
Details of the appearances where he made it to heads-up were as followed.
- World Series of Poker Champions: This was originally aired on the 15th to 20th of January, 2007. He won heads-up against another poker professional, Chris Moneymaker.
- Golden Men: This was first aired on the 11th to 16th of June, 2007. Johnny lost heads-up to Joe Hachem.
- World Champions: It was originally aired on the 11th to 16th of February, 2008. Johnny Chan won heads-up against the poker legend, Phil Hellmuth.
- International Tournament: This was originally aired on the 25th of February to 1st of March, 2008. Johnny won heads-up against Jennifer Tilly.
Johnny Chan Other Tournaments
In addition to the tournaments highlights that have been enumerated above, it is of import to mention that Chan also participated in some other tournaments. For instance, in 1981, Chan participated in the American Cup poker tournament and made it to the final tables, winning against Bob Stupak. He defeated all the other nine players at the table in less than one hour. At the end of this tournament, Stupak gave Johnny the nickname of ‘The Orient Express’.
Chan also participated in the 2004 and 2005 World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions and the National Heads-Up Poker Championship events in the same year. It is also important to mention that he has never made it to the final table at the World Poker Tour. As at the year 2014, Johnny Chan net worth from his total live tournament winnings was in excess of $8.6 million USD. His 45 World Series of Poker (WSOP) cashes accounted for a total of about $4.4 million USD of his net worth.
Johnny Chan Personal Life
Johnny is not all about Poker games. Apart from displaying his prowess at the felt table, he also owns a fast food franchise in Las Vegas Stratosphere Hotel. He is also a consultant for various game makers and casino platforms. Chan has also tried his hands on writings. He has written for Card Player Magazine. He made his first appearance in GNS series of High Stakes Poker in 2006 and another appearance in 2011.
In the year 2005, he collaborated with Mark Karowe and both released an instructional book on many different types of poker. The title of the instructional book is Play Poker Like Johnny Chan. In November of 2006, they released the follow-up title for the book and this time around, the title is Million Dollar Hold’Em: Winning Big in Limit Cash Games. This book focuses on the strategy of Limit Hold’Em.
Known to be a business minded individual, Chan has also tried his hands on establishing a poker platform. He launched his online poker room in the year 2007 and named it ChanPokerOnline.com. Unfortunately, the online poker room closed down in August of 2008. Johnny was a regular columnist with Trader Monthly, a bi-monthly magazine. When he is not deeply involved in working with Hollywood team filming series of segments for ESPN, Chan loves to exercise, relax and enjoy the beautiful things of life. He loves Mercedes Benz cars, fine Versace apparels, and also loves travelling.
Johnny Chan in Movie
Johnny made an appearance in 1998 film, Rounders, where he played a role portraying himself. In one of the flashback scenes, Chan is bluffed out of the pot by the movie’s main character, Mike McDermott, played by Matt Damon. He also made an appearance in the Hong Kong movie, titled Poker King, in 2009. In this movie, Chan also played the role that portrayed him.
Johnny Chan Net Worth
The Chinese-American poker professional has significantly amassed some amazing net worth for himself. Currently, Johnny Chan net worth is placed at about $10 million USD. Out of this net worth, a total of about $8.7 million USD was from his live earnings at live tournaments. Chan dropped out University of Houston where he was pursuing a degree in restaurant management and hospitality, to pursue his poker career.
Interestingly, the decision he made so many years ago had indeed paid off for him. He became a popular face in the world of poker after winning back to back at the World Series of Poker tournaments, placing first in the 1987 and 1988 tournaments. He won his tenth World Series of Poker (WSOP) event in the year 2005. He was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in the year 2002. Chan is also popular for his lucky orange which he always brings to the tables during any game.
Johnny Chan is a Chinese born American poker professional that has made impact in the world of poker. He was born in Guangzhou, China in 1957. He has made several appearances at poker tournaments and won at some major events. He started his poker career in Las Vegas after dropping out of the University of Houston. He enrolled at the university to study Hotel and Restaurant management with the intention of taking over his family-owned business.
However, he left half-way and made his way to Las Vegas where he steadily pursues his poker career. Johnny Chan net worth is about $10 million USD and in addition to his earnings from poker; he has also made some money from his fast food franchise business in Las Vegas Stratosphere Hotel. Some of his earnings also come from the services of consultation he renders to several casinos and game makers.
Chan is the World Series of Poker Main Event Champion of 1987 and 1988. He holds a total of ten bracelets which places him in the same rank as Doyle Brunson and Phil Ivey for holding the 2nd most WSOP bracelets. The first place is held by Phil Hellmuth who currently holds a total of 14 bracelets. In the 1988 World Series of Poker Main Event, Chan won against Erik Seidel at the Main Event Championship table. The hand in which he defeated Seidel was featured in Rounders.
The total live earnings of Chan is $8,723,453 and his best live cash was $750,000. He is ranked in the 53rd place in the United States All Time Money List. He also ranked 9th in California, USA All Time Money List. Johnny ranked in the 92nd position of All Time Money List Current Rank and 1st in the All Time Money List Best Rank. In popularity, he ranked 84th.