The winner of ten World Series of Poker bracelets, Johnny Chan was once a force to be reckoned with at the poker table. His total live tournament winnings exceeded $8,600,000 as of 2014. His success has a poker player even resulted in an appearance playing himself in the 1998 cult classic move, Rounders. Where is he now? Has he gone broke?
The Makings of a Hall of Famer
Born in Guangzhou, China, Johnny Chan would eventually settle with his family in Houston, Texas, where his family owned and ran restaurants. Chan briefly attended the University of Houston, majoring in hotel and restaurant management, before dropping out at 21 and heading to Vegas to become a professional gambler.
Chan rocketed to the top ranks of his chosen profession almost immediately. In 1981, he won Bob Stupak’s 1981 American Cup poker tournament, defeating all nine of his opponents at the final table in less than an hour and earning the nickname “The Orient Express”.
Chan then went on to win the World Series of Poker Main Event for two consecutive years in a row (1987 and 1988). He nearly won three titles in a row, but ultimately came in 2nd place behind poker superstar Phil Hellmuth at the 1989 WSOP. Chan appears unique in his style of playing and he appears to carry a secret card that no one else has, the very card that keeps him staying on top of the game.
Not only is he the last player to win back-to-back WSOP Main Event titles, he also became the first player to take home ten World Series of Poker bracelets in 2005 after beating Phil Laak. Along with Doyle Brunson and Phil Ivey, Chan is tied in second place for the most WSOP bracelets won behind Phil Helmuth, who has won a whopping 14 bracelets.
Chan also holds the record for the most victories to date on the NBC late-night show Poker After Dark. Chan successfully defeated other highly talented poker players like Huck Seed and Doyle Brunson to win four games out of his six total appearances on the show.
He has competed in all three of the Poker Superstars Invitational Tournaments, playing against some of the biggest names in poker like Howard Lederer and Phil Ivey, and making it to the semi-finals or finals each time. At the Superstars Invitational in 2005, he made a remarkable come back to finish in second place. At the next tournament, he defeated Todd Brunson in the finals to claim the $400,000 prize.
In 2002, Chan was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame.
Johnny Chan’s Top 5 Tournament Cashes
– 2nd place for $750,000 at the 2005 Poker Superstars Invitational Tournament, Las Vegas
– 1st place for $700,000 at the 1988 19th World Series of Poker (WSOP)
– 1st place for $400,000 at the 2005 Poker Superstars Invitational Tournament Season 2
– 1st place for $303,025 at the 2005 36th World Series of Poker (WSOP)
– 2nd place for $302,000 at the 1989 20th World Series of Poker (WSOP)
So is Johnny Chan actually broke?
Poker enthusiasts may have noticed that Johnny Chan isn’t showing up to many tournaments in recent years, but the poker legend himself says that this is by design. Chan prefers the faster pace of cash games, where you can sit down and make money quickly and then move on to the next game. And perhaps the lure of tournament victories just doesn’t hold much power over a man who is ranked second of the list of all-time bracelet wins.
That’s not to say Chan isn’t keeping busy. You’ll still find him at the poker table and playing in the occasional tournament, including the most recent 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event. But Chan has also expanded his professional brand, working as a consultant for casinos and game makers.
Chan has also written articles for Card Player magazine and had a regular column in Trader Monthly, and has released two instructional books on poker and poker strategy, Play Poker Like Johnny Chan and Million Dollar Hold’em: Winning Big in Limit Cash Games. Outside of the world of poker, Chan also own a fast-food franchise in the Las Vegas Stratosphere Hotel.
Regardless of whether Chan is winning big these days, he has certainly cemented his place as a poker player of legendary status. He remains ranked 36th on the United States All Time Money List and 8th on the Nevada, USA All Time Money List. The long-time poker professional doesn’t look like he’ll be turning his back on the poker table any time soon.