Johnny Chan

Johnny Chan

A poker biography of Johnny Chan.

Quick Information

Name - Johnny Chan

Born - 1957, Canton, China

Poker Room - Doyles Room


Barry Greenstein, Chip Reese, and Doyle Brunson. These are just some of the best poker players you can find in the Bellagio in Las Vegas. You may also come across Johnny Chan- one of the best and first poker super stars. The 49-year old Chinese American has no problem throwing around hundreds and thousands of dollars, and even the combination of two. He has earned over $5 million from different poker tournaments. His life now is very far from the life he had when his family first came to the United States.

Johnny was six when his family settled from Canton, China to Hong Kong. Years after, his family made a transpacific journey to the U.S. They first settled in Arizona, then in Texas where his family had put up a restaurant. Life as an immigrant was not easy, especially to young Johnny. He did not know lots of English back then, and had to exert so much effort just to get accustomed to the language in particular, and to the culture in general. But what Johnny learned swiftly was bowling. He got to play bowling when there was nothing so much to do in their restaurant. Nevertheless, at the bowling alley, Johnny would throw his best shot, thus making strikes after strikes after strikes.

It was also in the bowling alley that Johnny discovered poker. There he found not only a new activity, but a genuine passion where he would spend the rest of his life playing and earning millions of dollars. Johnny started playing against his friends with only a small amount involved. Then the small amount grew bigger as he started joining the secret poker game at their restaurant. But when he began winning more and more and more often, Johnny pursued the higher stakes. His first Las Vegas game was in 1963. He was only 16, and he was an illegal player. But his $500 pocket money turned into $20,000 in just one night. Unfortunately, he lost everything the next night. That was the same pattern during his early career.

What is more, Johnny continued his education and studied hotel and restaurant management in a college in Houston so as to hold the fort in their family restaurant one day. Nevertheless, poker still has lots of space in his heart and mind that is why he quit college at 21, and relocated to Las Vegas to chase his poker career. However, things are not always rosy and well. Johnny had his ups and downs as poker player. There were times where he even needed to find a job just to put up with his chosen career. But Johnny was so determined to establish a name of his own in the world of poker.

It was in 1982 when Johnny decided to live a healthy life by quitting smoking, exercising daily, and eating healthy foods. From then on he noticed a great improvement on his plays. He was able to join several poker tournaments and was given the moniker 'The Orient Express' by no other than Bob Stupak . Since then, Johnny Chan has 10 championships and ten WSOP gold bracelets under his name. He was also inducted in the Poker Hall Of Fame in 2002. Today, Johnny is relishing the fruits of his poker skills together with his wife, six children and six houses.