Washington State poker pro and limit specialist collects $290,635 top prize in Event #28

Johns becomes second duel gold bracelet winner at 2016 WSOP

Johns collects third career WSOP gold bracelet

Gold bracelet holders dominate six of top ten payouts

Sean Berrios, from U.S. Virgin Islands, finishes as runner up


Name:  Ian Johns
Birthplace:  Seattle, WA (USA)
Age:  31
Current Residence:  Seattle, WA (USA) / Las Vegas, NV (USA)
Marital Status:  Married
Children:  3
Profession:  Poker Player
Number of WSOP Cashes:  20
Number of WSOP Final Table Appearances:  5
Number of WSOP Gold Bracelet Victories (with this tournament):  3
Best Previous WSOP Finish:  1st (2006, 2016)
Total WSOP Earnings:  $1,009,023
Personal Facts:  Plays $80-160 almost daily and is a Limit Hold’em specialist


Winner Quote:

“For me, Limit Hold’em is a super fun game because you are constantly making decisions.  Boom.  Boom.  Boom.  Boom.  It’s very fast.  The hands take 90 seconds instead of four minutes like in No-Limit.  So, you just have so many opportunities to make these little incremental decisions.  I have spent the last 12 years of my life trying to perfect those incremental decisions and that’s why I like it.”

Ian Johns has just won his third World Series of Poker gold bracelet – not bad for a cash game pro who only plays about half a dozen poker tournaments a year, by his own admission.

The high-stakes poker pro who splits time between the Pacific Northwest, from where he originates, and Las Vegas where he plays regularly, won the $10,000 buy-in Limit Hold’em tournament.  The competition took place over three days and nights was concluded on the ESPN main stage at the Rio in Las Vegas.  Johns collected $290,635 in prize money, along with his third career gold bracelet.

“I’m ecstatic.  It’s so far out there,” said Johns moments after victory in a post-tournament interview.  “I don’t even play in that many tournaments.  I never dreamed of it.  I never even thought about it.”

Remarkably, Johns has now won two WSOP titles this year.  He’s one of two players to accomplish that rare feat, barely into the third week of the series.  Jason Mercier also won two events, so far in 2016.  Johns previously won the $1,500 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. tournament, which ended about two weeks ago.  He pocketed $212,604 for that impressive win, along with a cash in another event in between, Johns has taken in more than $500,000 at this year’s series.

“I don’t think it has to do with pressure.  I think it has to do more with someone playing their best,” Johns said in response to a question as to why so many WSOP winners repeat, sometimes in the same year.  “This time, I was so focused.  It was at a level that I’ve never reached before where I was so in tune with what was going on.  It’s kind of surreal, really.  My mind was locked in – that’s the bigger reason why I think there are repeats.”

Johns now has more than $1 million in WSOP earnings.  Yet, he doesn’t play in many events, preferring instead to focus most of his time and attention on cash games. When he does play tournaments, they are almost always limit events.  Johns almost never plays No-Limit Hold’em.

“I used to play a lot of No-Limit.  But these guys, they passed me by eons ago.  I get in the game and I don’t know what I’m doing.  They’re so advanced now.  I feel lost in hands, so I chose not to play, which seems like a reasonable thing to do.  When I’m not playing these limit tournaments, I’m playing in cash games, which are limit.”

Johns won his victory by coming out on top at a final table which was absolutely stacked with talent and experience – although some of the adversaries were not quite as proficient at the Limit form of Hold’em.  Some of the more notable names present included David Chiu, Bill Chen, Brock Parker, and Brian Rast.  Like Johns, they were all multiple gold bracelet winners.

The ultimate moment of triumph came after most of the field was eliminated and Johns was heads-up against a relative newcomer to the bright lights of WSOP final tables, Sean Berrios, from St. Croix, Virgin Islands.  Johns began the duel with about a 3 to 1 chip lead and was never in serious danger of elimination.

Johns’ two victories means he’s now in serious contention to give Mercier a run for his money in the WSOP “Player of the Year” race.  However, Johns admitted he doesn’t play as many forms of poker and doesn’t plan on entering as many tournaments (as Mercier, and others).

Aside from playing, Johns has also been a poker instructor.  He’s been a tutor in the Limit Hold’em section of The Poker Academy, which also includes Rep Porter, who won a gold bracelet this year as well.

This tourney attracted 110 entrants which created a prize pool totaling $1,034,000.  The top 17 finishers collected prize money.

Aside from Ian Johns, the winner, here’s a brief report of the other top finishers who made the final table:

Second Place:  Sean Berrios, from the Caribbean paradise of St. Croix was that island’s highest WSOP finisher ever by coming in second.  He was a former U.S. military serviceman who completed three tours of duty in Afghanistan and currently works as an Air Force contractor.  Berrios has now cashed seven times at the WSOP and collected his biggest payday ever with this feat, which paid $179,635.

Third Place:  Alexander Balynskiy, from Novorossiysk,,Russia ran deep and finished in third place.  This was his first time to cash in a WSOP event of any kind.  Balynskiy is primarily an online poker player who is now playing more live cash games and tournaments.  He pocketed $125,571.

Fourth Place:  David Chiu, from Las Vegas, NV a five-time gold bracelet winner made his deepest run at the WSOP in three years with his fourth-place showing.  Chiu now has 73 cashes and more than $3.6 million in earnings after pocketing $89,810 for this fine effort.  Chiu’s first gold bracelet win took place twenty years ago, appropriately enough in Limit Hold’em.

Fifth Place:  Jeff Thompson, from San Diego, CA enjoyed his second final table appearance in a WSOP event.  He previously finished second in a Six-Handed Limit Hold’em tourney in 2013.  Thompson collected $65,752 in prize money.

Sixth Place:  Bill Chen, from Lafayette Hill, PA won two gold bracelets at the 2006 WSOP.  Hoping to reclaim some of that same thunder a decade later, Chen found himself short-stacked throughout Day Two and Day Three, but still managed to go deep enough to finish in sixth place.  Chen received $49,304.  He now has 38 in-the-money finishes and more than $1.7 million in career WSOP earnings.

Seventh Place:  Brock Parker, from Silver Spring, MD is a three-time gold bracelet winner, with one of his wins in Six-Handed Limit Hold’em.  He received $37,888 for seventh place and now has in excess of $2.3 million won at the WSOP.

Eighth Place:  Brian Rast, from Las Vegas, NV won two gold bracelets, both in 2011.  He hoped to break what’s been something of a jinx the last five series, but fell short as the eight-place finisher.  Rast received $29,855.  He now has 28 WSOP cashes and more than $4.3 million in accumulated earnings as the series.

Ninth Place:  Anh Van Nguyen, from Toronto, Ontario (Canada) rounded out the finale, and was the first player to bust out of the official final table.  He collected $24,140 in what was his 24th time to cash in a WSOP event.

This was the 28th official event on this year’s schedule.  This leaves 41 gold bracelet events still to go this summer at the 2016 WSOP.



Phillip Tom, a gold bracelet winner (2008), finished in 10th place.

Mark Radoja, a two-tie gold bracelet winner (2011, 2013), finished in 11th place.

George Sotiropoulos, a gold bracelet winner (2015 WSOP Europe), finished in 13th place.

Ronnie Bardah, a gold bracelet winner (2011), finished in 17th place.


Limit Hold’em made a relatively late debut on the WSOP schedule.  It first appeared in 1981, long after other forms of limit poker (Seven-Card Stud, Draw, Lowball, etc.) were offered.  Limit Hold’em reached its peak in popularity around 2002, when it dominated most live action in the United States.  For many years, the biggest field at the WSOP wasn’t for the Main Event or No-Limit Hold’em.  Limit poker was king.  That changed in 2003 with the explosion of No-Limit Hold’em.  That form of poker quickly replaced Limit Hold’em as the dominant game.  That said, the WSOP continues to offer multiple-level buy-ins for Limit Hold’em tournaments each year.



For this event’s official final results (listing all players who finished in-the-money), please visit:

For Ian Johns official player profile page, please visit:

For the live reporting logs for this event, please visit:

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