Johnny Chan, The Master


Johnny Chan won a record 10th gold bracelet at the WSOP yesterday. 

Event #25 ($2,500 Pot Limit Hold‚Äôem) had an entertaining final table that included two over-the-top (read: annoying) personas of World Poker Tour fame: Phil ‚Äúthe Unabomber‚Äù Laak and Humberto Brenes.  Alas, Brenes‚Äôs stay was brief, as he bowed out in 9th place (earning $19,550).   Talent eventually trumped luck though at this table, as two of the world‚Äôs best hold‚Äôem players, Chan and Laak, maneuvered their way to heads-up action for the title. 

Till_copyChan began with the chip lead, out-stacking Laak 658,000 to 403,000.  Originally, Event #25 was not in the ESPN film docket, but with Chan gunning for the record-breaking bracelet, a break was called until the women‚Äôs event (inexplicably being filmed over this) wrapped for the day.  Ironically enough, Jennifer Tilly (yes, the actress, and as fate has it, Phil Laak‚Äôs girlfriend) is dominating the women‚Äôs tournament, owning the chip lead as the final four females finish up today.

Eventually, ESPN got the table lit and set, and cameras started rolling for the Chan-Laak mono-e-mono battle.

Those hoping to see Chan prevail while watching Laak ‚Äúbe wacky‚Äù did not walk away disappointed. 

For the purposes of this wrap-up, we‚Äôll call any wacky Phil Laak behavior ‚Äútypical-Unabomber,‚Äù or TU.  And TU reared its wacky head no sooner than Hand 1 of heads-up play.  Chan had the button, reached for chips, and before he even touched the chips, TU folds.   Chan may have only been calling, but TU mucked anyway…


On Hand 3,  Chan had the button and raised it to 46,000.  TU stops, contemplates, and raised it to 138,000.  Chan comes back over the top for 276,000 more.  TU pulls down his patented  (or is it trademarked?) hood, stands up and begins talking (read: hamming) through the situation. He talks to Chan, then to the Assistant Tournament Director (Jack Effel).  TU asks Jack, "If I fold, will they show the flop to the rabbit cam on TV?"  TU asks Jack for a lifeline (not kidding).  Finally, TU lets out a primal yell and mucks. TU then asks the dealer to rabbit the cards so he can see (eventually on TV) how the hand would‚Äôve played out.

After the hand, TU walks up to Chan, jokingly offering some sort of deal while flashing him dollar bills. Jennifer Tilly is watching from the stands and shouts out, "Save your money, Phil!"  These two are wacky.  Just wacky. 

More TU occurred on Hand 9.  Again, Chan had the button, limping in this time.  Laak checked. Checks all the way to the river, when a second King spiked the board.  Chan bet 30,000, and TU yelled "Don’t do it!" TU then mutters all sorts of wacky stuff under his breath.  TU eventually folded, then got up and walked over to Chan.  TU offered two dollars (two dollars!) to Chan to see what cards he had. Chan declined, thinking to himself: 1) Frankly Phil, I don‚Äôt remember, or 2) I‚Äôm going to kill you.

A brief TU respite is mercifully granted to all on Hand 10, but it picked up again on Hand 11.   Chan limped and Laak checked. After a flop of Qd-Jc-3s, Laak bet 18,000‚Ķand Chan called. TU asks Chan, "Is this one of those times like on TV where you flop the nuts and you’re slow playing me?" The turn is a 7d, the river a 5c, and both players check it down. Laak had nothing (8 high) and loses the pot to Chan‚Äôs King high.

On to Hand 13.  Chan limped in on the button, and Laak raised it to 40,000. Chan calls. After an 8-7-3 flop, Laak bets 92,000‚Ķthen goes TU on us by dropping to the floor to do push-ups while humming the theme to "Rocky." Is this guy crazy or what???!!! 

Chan eventually folded.  He then took the shoestring out of his shoe, made a makeshift noose, and hung himself from a boom mic.  The ESPN crew cut him down though so he could soldier on (note to readers: this didn’t actually happen, per se). 

Finally, on Hand 16, Chan silenced Laak.   Laak had the button and raised it to 38,000.   Chan re-raised it to 130,000.  Laak re-raised it all-in, and Chan calls with pocket Queens.  Laak shows Kd-Jh.   The flop comes up Jc-5c-5h, pairing Laak.  The turn produces a 10d, and Laak is down to 5 outs (the remaining Kings or Jacks).  Chan turns away from the table before the river hits.  Laak calls him out on it, and Chan replies, "But I can see it on the monitor!"  A 10h hit the board on the river, giving Chan his record 10th bracelet. 

By winning bracelet #10, Chan moves past Doyle Brunson and Phil Hellmuth for the all-time WSOP lead.

For more on Chan’s amazing career, check out his bio on


One Response

  1. jackie chan

    June 27, 2005 11:28 am, Reply

    I respect Johnnie as a poker player but i sincerely wish he would go back to the days of martial arts films like Revenge of the Drunken Master. He was much better at battling the blood ninjas than delivering bad beats at the poker table.
    Wait…are we not talking about the same person here?

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