Terrence "Not Johnny" Chan is the first to admit is not on the same level as the two time Main Event winner with whom he shares a last name. But about two years ago admist an usual situation Chan was informed that he was Terrence Chan not Johnny Chan.
Rather than be upset by the fact Terrence turned the nickname into a symbol of pride. "I know I'm not Johnny Chan, I know I'm not an icon of the game, I'm just some guy who likes to make money playing poker."
Chan may not be an icon of the game right this moment but he is well on his way to joining the ranks of the greats. He first started playing poker at the age of 18 when his cousin took him to a local casino to play Blackjack. Chan wandered away from the Blackjack tables and found himself watching some low stakes cash games.
"There seemed to be no rules, most casino games are very structured, this one wasn't." Chan began to read some poker books and won just shy of $600 when he sat down at his third Limit cash game table. He was hooked. Even though the legal age for gambling is 19 in Canada, Chan was able to play at 18. It was 1999 and young poker players were virtually unheard of at casinos. "I was the only guy at the table under 35, but no one even bothered to check ID."
Two years later at age 20, Chan was playing at The Bike in L.A. when he was asked for ID for the very first time. He had been playing for five straight days before a security guard questioned his age. Chan did what every good poker player does, he bluffed.
"I handed him my college ID, which didn't have a date of birth on it. He scanned it and looked at it and said 'I don't see any date of birth on this.' And I said 'Well I'm Canadian and we don't put the date of birth on our ID cards.' He studied it a bit longer, handed it back to me and said 'OK.' I was like 'wow.' That was one bluff I didn't think was going to work."
Ten years after he played his first hand of poker, Chan has become known as a very strong Limit Hold 'em player. He didn't set out to be a Limit Hold 'em player, but rather is was something he happened to be good at.
When Chan first began playing poker for a living he was playing primarily No Limit Hold 'em. In August of 2004 he hit a bad run and decided to make the switch to Limit. "It went well. Playing Limit Hold 'em made me more money than playing anything else so it just made more sense to focus on that."
Chan has been playing at the World Series of Poker
since 2004 but only played a few small events the first year. He had a small piece of Main Event Champion Greg Raymer
, "That really helped me get my start," he said. In 2005 he began playing more and more events.
Now Chan is expanding his realm and testing the waters at non-Hold 'em games, but his heart seems to belong to Hold 'em. A WSOP bracelet
in the $10,000 World Championship Limit Hold 'em event or a Six Max event would mean the most to him. In 2007 Chan finished as runner-up in the $2,500 Six Max No Limit Hold'em event to Hoyt Corkins. "And of course the Main Event," he said. When all is said and done, life is good for Chan.
When he is not playing poker he enjoys spending time with friends, "To me the World Series has always been about spending time with friends." He is also finding more balance in life, concentrating on hobbies that include Brazilian Jui-Jitsu, Muay Thai kickboxing and investing in businesses.
"I don't want to be Johnny Chan," he said. "I'm happy being Terrence Chan."