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John Juanda

By Paul McGuire

John Juanda is one of most competitive poker players you will ever be up against. He’s won over $4.2 million playing tournaments in a very short amount of time playing a variety of different games. He’s also a generous and compassionate person. That’s what makes John Juanda one of the exceptional poker pros around today.

John Juanda
John Juanda - Source: Las Vegas & Poker

John Juanda was born in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia. He was a good student and excelled in athletics. He was a track star and once boasted that no one beat him in a race for three years. He ran races from 200 meter to 5000 meter events, which proved he was fast and had endurance. His competitive nature spread into poker and that’s part of the reason he’s fierce at the tables. John Juanda attended college in the United States at Oklahoma State University. He also graduated from Seattle University where he earned an MBA. John worked many jobs during school to support himself. He was an award-winning bible salesmen for a while. After his career in poker is over, John is considering becoming a doctor in a third world country.

John Juanda started playing poker when he was studying for his Master’s degree. He came in 10th place in his very first tournament. He was not pleased with the results and analyzed his play all night long. He came in first place in his next tournament. What makes John Juanda an excellent player is his ability to analyze his game after every session to figure out his mistakes. He plugs the leaks in is game right away.

"In poker, as long as you are able to learn and to adjust, you will be alright,” he was once quoted as saying.

John Juanda has three World Series of Poker bracelets and has made 15 final tables. He’s also made six final tables on the World Poker Tour. In 1999, John Juanda made a final table during his first year at the WSOP. He came in 9th place at a final table for the $1,500 Limit Hold’em event that included both John Bonetti and Layne Flack. Later that year, he would make another final table and take 7th place at the $3,000 Limit event. His final table was loaded with superstars such as Howard Lederer, Humberto Brenes, Josh Arieh, Farzad Bonyadi, and Captain Tom Franklin.

In 2000, John Juanda dominated the California State Championships, where he made three final tables and won an event. Also in 2000, he was the runner up at the U.S. Poker Championships at the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. Without a doubt, 2001 was Juanda’s breakout year. He won the 2nd Annual Jack Binion World Poker Open in Tunica, MS. He beat out a final table that included Allen Cunningham, Toto Leonidas, and Dan Heimiller. At the WSOP in 2001, he made two more final tables in a Seven-card Stud Hi/Lo event and a Pot-Limit Hold’em event. Later that year, he made the final table at the World Poker Final at Foxwoods. He also added another second place finish at the U.S. Poker Championships. It was one of the toughest tables that he’d ever faced and included T.J. Cloutier, Men “The Master” Nguyen, and Adam Schoenfeld. In 2001, John Juanda was runner-up in Card Player Magazine’s Player of the Year.

At the 2002 WSOP, John Juanda made eight final tables and won his first bracelet in the $1,500 Triple Draw Lowball Ace to Five event after he beat Paul Phillips heads up. He made his first final table at a World Poker Tour event at the Bellagio. He came in 2nd and lost to Gus Hansen. Also at his final table were Scotty Nguyen, Freddy Deeb, Chris Bigler, and Johnny “World” Hennigan. Juanda made the final table for a third straight year at the U.S. Poker Championships in 2002. And for the second year in a row, John Juanda was runner-up in Card Player Magazine’s Player of the Year.

In 2003, John Juanda cashed five times at the WSOP and won two more bracelets. He won the $2,500 Seven-card Stud Hi/Lo event that featured Huck Seed, Ralph Perry, and Mel Judah. He also won the $2,500 Pot Limit Omaha event at a final table that included Phil Ivey, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, Rob Hollink, and Robert Williamson III.

2004 was Juanda’s best year to date after he won over $1.5 million. He took 3rd at a WPT event, the L.A. Poker Invitational at Commerce Casino. He made four final tables at the WSOP including a second place finish in the $1,000 NL Hold’em event. That final table featured Daniel Negreanu, Mike Matusow, Paul Phillips, and Ram Vaswani. He also made three more final tables on the WPT in 2004 at the Mirage, Aruba, and the Bellagio. He also won a Professional Poker Tour (PPT) event at Foxwoods. His final table included top pros such as Jen Harman, Chris Bigler, Ron Rose, and Dan Harrington.

In 2005, John Juanda cashed six times at the WSOP including coming in 31st at the Main Event.

John Juanda currently lives in Marina del Ray, California. He can be found playing at Full Tilt Poker. You can visit his website www.johnjuanda.com where you can find information on how to help donate money to tsunami victims in his home country, in addition to seeing pictures and reading trip reports.

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