Johnny Chan, aka "Orient Express"

Who is Johnny Chan?

Johnny Chan with Matt Damon

Johnny Chan is arguably one of the best poker players in the world.

Johnny is famous in his own right as one of the great poker players, but what makes him a poker icon is his appearance in the movie "rounders", where he played a cameo of himself.

In this movie, Matt Damon portrayed with Johnny Chan on the right, is an aspiring poker pro who struggles with his bankroll and the loan sharks. Johnny Chan is his champion, and he likes to watch the actual footage of the 1988 World Series of poker Main Event, with its forever-immortalized final hand between Chan and Erik Seidel.

In this hand of no-limit texas holdem poker, Johnny Chan flopped the nuts flush. He slow plays it beautifully, inducing Erik to push all in by the river, and winning the title for the second time.

This is Mike McDermott (Matt Damon's character)'s motivation and when he wins a big poker match to pay off his debts, he heads for Las Vegas where he sits at Johnny Chan's high stakes poker table. This is Mike's moment, as he has always dreamt to win a bluff against Johnny Chan by reraising him nothing.

When Johnny asks "did you have it?", Mike does not tell. This shows that he had become a real poker professional fearing no one.

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Johnny Chan's poker achievements

Johnny Chan was born in 1957 as Jon Chi Chan in Guangzhou, China. The south of China is renowned for its succulent cuisine and Johnny Chan's family was in the restaurant business. They first moved to Hong Kong in 1962, then to Phoenix, Arizona in 1968 and finally to Houston, Texas in 1973.

Interestingly his parents' restaurant turned out to be Johnny's school of poker. Every night when the work was done and the last customer gone, the employees who gather to play poker.

They played all poker variations, hold'em, stud, draw poker, etc; a great way to learn. Soon the young teenager Johnny Chan became the undisputed champion of this group of players. Johnny started a few escapades to Las Vegas to swim in deeper waters and it would not be long before he settled there as a full time poker professional. The rest is history.

The list of Johnny Chans' winnings is truly impressive. As was mentioned earlier, he won the WSOP main event twice in 1987 and 1988. In fact he almost won three times in a row but was defeated by Phil Hellmuth in 1989 for a second place.

In 2005 Chan became the first poker player to ever win a tenth WSOP bracelet, but he was equaled by Doyle Brunson and then surpassed in 2008 by Phil Hellmuth, who got an eleventh bracelet. Johnny has a total of 42 money finishes at the WSOP. These three poker superstars have been very active in online poker as well.

Johnny is a very versatile poker player, a skill learned from his early days. This is demonstrated by the variety of his WSOP bracelets in 7-Card Stud, Deuce to Seven Draw, Pot-Limit Omaha and all three forms of Texas Holdem. Johnny Chan's total live tournament winnings exceed $8 million.

Johnny Chan wrote a few poker books. "Play Poker like Johnny Chan" explains Chan's poker strategy when he plays both Limit and No-Limit Texas Holdem poker in addition to other poker variations such as Omaha eight or better, Seven Stud and Seven Stud Eight. A great read.

If like Mike McDermott you want to play a game of poker with Johnny, you can often find him at the Bellagio (if he is not playing at an internet casino), where he is a regular in the so-called Big Game. This is where the best poker players in the world meet on a regular basis.

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