Coming from modest beginnings, Johnny Chan was born in Canton, China in 1957, but immigrated to the US with his family in 1968. Ultimately settling in Houston, Texas in 1973, Johnny Chan helped out in his parents' restaurant, and took up bowling in his spare time.
Though Johnny Chan quickly became a proficient bowler, he found his true passion when he was introduced to poker at the bowling alley. Starting with small money games with friends, Johnny was soon playing at higher stakes in underground poker games
At the age of 16, Johnny Chan got a taste of Las Vegas poker. Despite being too young to legally do so, Chan took a seat at a poker table with $500, and walked out with $20K. The following day, Chan lost his entire poker bankroll, but the impact of the loss was anything but discouraging.
After high school, Johnny Chan attended college at the University of Houston until he turned 21; leaving school
to become a professional poker player
in Vegas. In the process, Chan endured numerous upswings and downswings, picking up the occasional job to support himself whenever he went bust. Throughout those early days of his poker career, his love of the game fueled his determination and persistence.
In 1983, Johnny Chan made his first WSOP final table, taking 4th place in the Heads Up No Limit Hold'em event for $8,000. Two short years later, Chan was presented with his first WSOP bracelet when he outlasted 341 other players - including second runner up, Lyle Berman - in the $1,000 Limit Hold'em event, earning $171K.
Taking down the WSOP Main Event in 1987, following a 3rd place finish in No Limit Deuce to Seven Lowball, Chan was garnered his second gold bracelet and $625K in winnings. Chan went on to win the next annual WSOP World Championship event worth $700K, and is still the last player to ever win the main event of the World Series of Poker two years in a row - a record Johnny Chan may well retain due to the tremendous, and constantly growing, volume of competitors in the prestigious affair.
Johnny Chan nearly claimed a third consecutive WSOP championship in 1989, but was ultimately defeated by Phil Hellmuth
in the final hand of the event. Chan went on to make five final tables in the 5th Annual Diamond Jim Brady competition that same year.
Two months after finishing first in the 1994 LA Poker Classic Deuce to Seven Lowball event, Johnny Chan claimed his fourth bracelet in a WSOP Pot Limit Omaha event, along with $135K. He went on to cash in seven other WSOP events from 1994 to 1997 before earning his fifth WSOP award, and $164K, in the $5,000+$100 No Limit Deuce to Seven Lowball event.
After a win at the LA Poker Classic Main Event in 2000, Chan landed his sixth WSOP bracelet in the $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha event, adding over $178K to his already impressive career tournament earnings. Bracelet number seven arrived two years later in the 2002 WSOP Heads Up No Limit Hold'em event, with $34K in prize money.
Picking up two more bracelets in 2003, Johnny Chan outlasted the fields of both $5,000 No Limit Hold'em and $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha. The victories added a combined total of $382,500 to his winnings, and brought Chan's WSOP bracelet count up to nine. For the two years that followed, Johnny Chan, Doyle Brunson, and Phil Hellmuth were tied at nine for the most bracelets won.
The tenth gold bracelet Johnny Chan won came from the 2005 $2,500 Pot Limit Hold'em event. The win broke the three-way tie with Brunson and Hellmuth, and made Johnny Chan the first player in history to score ten WSOP triumphs.
As the newer generations of poker players continuously swarm into the booming live tournament scene with seemingly indomitable endurance (and a limitless supply of energy drinks), Johnny Chan continues to provide a formidable stumbling block for the up and coming champions of professional poker.