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John Juanda Biography

John Juanda Biography
by Chad Holloway of

John Juanda, born on July 8, 1971, was raised in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia. Juanda lived with his grandparents for several years while his parents began a new business venture. His father, a gambler himself, often warned him of the dangerous consequences of gambling, but Juanda did not seem to take his father's warning to heart, having already begun gambling in elementary school by shooting marbles for money. During high school, Juanda showed his athletic prowess by excelling on the track, especially the 200 meter sprint and the 5000 meter race. In 1990, Juanda boarded a flight bound for the United States where he planned to attend college. It was during this flight that Juanda was taught the game of poker by a friend. Once in the U.S., Juanda began college at Oklahoma State University, where he graduated with degrees in marketing and management. He went on to earn an MBA from Seattle University. Juanda worked as a bible salesman and traded stocks until 1996 when he had built an adequate bankroll to play poker full-time.

In the 1999 World Series of Poker, Juanda made the final table of the first two events he entered. He followed that strong performance with a win at the 2001 Jack Binion World Poker Open. Juanda won his first W.S.O.P. bracelet the following year in triple-draw lowball ace-to-five. The next year, he won two more bracelets in pot-limit Omaha and seven-card stud eight-or-better, putting his total to three W.S.O.P. bracelets. His strong performances placed him as the runner-up in both the 2001 and 2002 Card Player Player of the Year races. Juanda was widely known as one of the "young guns of poker" in the late 1990s along with Daniel Negreanu, Allen Cunningham, and Phil Ivey. Negreanu described his friend as "the most successful player for the last five years. His consistency is unparalleled . . . I love him like a brother."

Juanda's success continued when he made fifteen final tables in 2004, and won the inaugural Professional Poker Tour event at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut. He made a remarkable five World Poker Tour final tables (and missed two more by only a few places) in the first three seasons of the tour. More recently, Juanda proved victorious in the Speed Poker Million Dollar Challenge in Australia defeating top pros Mike Sexton, Jeff Lisandro, Tony G, Barry Greenstein, Tony Bloom, and Phil Ivey to win AUD1,000,000 ($732,901). All told, Juanda has cashed in more than 100 major tournaments for over $6 million, part of which he used to put his sister through college.

Juanda's quiet, respectful demeanor, combined with his aggressive playing style, has made Juanda one of the more likeable players with both fans and poker players alike. Because of his initials, he has earned the nickname "JJ," and it is not uncommon for a player who holds pocket jacks to refer to his hand as the "John Juanda." Juanda currently resides in California and is a member of Team Full Tilt on Full Tilt Poker.


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