John "The Razor" Phan
Bon "John" Phan is the epitome of the American success story.
Born in Hue, Vietnam in 1974, he immigrated to the United States as a child in 1982, settling in Stockton, California. He is now a professional poker player with over in live tournament winnings.
His poker career was just crowned with the 2008 Poker of the Year award. This award should not come as a surprise given that John Phan won two WSOP bracelets and one WPT title in 2008. And given that he finished second in the 2005 Player of the Year race.
Gambling is a big part of the Vietnamese culture. John Phan first learned Stud when he was eight years old. At fifteen he started playing poker at a card room where his uncle was the floor man. He then became a regular at Lake Tahoe and Reno's casinos, and he has not looked back since.
John claims that his unique style comes from the fact that he had to learn how to become a good poker player by himself, without a mentor. He had a skill to recognize the fish at the table, but also a big ego (the nemesis of the poker player) which made him broke a few times when he was young. John Phan never read a poker book.
It took a long time for John Phan to get a bracelet at the WSOP as he had been close a few times in the past, with a rare total of 16 money finishes including a few final tables. John was runner-up in the 2006 $1,000 No-Limit hold'em event, winning $289k. He was runner-up again in the 2007 $2,500 No-Limit hold'em event, winning $331k.
Finally in 2008, he got two bracelets. First he won the $3,000 No-Limit Hold'em event for a cool $435k. Then the $2,500 2-7 Triple Draw for another $152k, cashing out a total of $608k at the 2008 WSOP.
John Phan's best friend is poker pro Liz Lieu from Chili Poker. Both are good looking Vietnamese immigrants poker pros in their thirties, it helps.
Though Liz had excelled at Limit Holdem ring games for many years, she did not embrace tournament play until the 2005 WSOP, when John Phan encouraged her to enter the $1500 No-Limit Holdem event. She ended up in fifth place with over $168k in prize money. She also placed 12th in the $5000 No-Limit holdem event and cashed in the $3000 tournament that same year. What a good advice from John.
John Phan plays many variations of poker, not justs NLHE. His second WSOP bracelet in 2-7 Triple Draw surprised the people who do not know him well and think he his a No-Limit specialist, but he played Stud and Limit games before NLHE, and he also plays a lot of mixed games at Party Poker.
His style is voracious so to speak. In one tournament he made a big raise for the first hand with 97 and was called by rockets. The board came with two sevens and he sent an amateur player home after just one hand while getting a large stack from the beginning, a nice advantage to dominate the table.
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