Hometown: Long Beach
Country of Origin: United States
Known as "The Razor," this Vietnamese-born competitor has been playing poker since he was 16. John Phan is well respected as one of the top minds of the game and is well-known for playing large numbers of tournaments each year. He came close to winning Card Player's Player of the Year title, but the feat managed to slip past his grip in the 2005 race. In 2006, Phan narrowly missed another career mile-marker when he finished second in a $1,000 buy-in World Series of Poker no-limit hold'em event for almost $290,000. In 2007, he had another shot at a bracelet in a $2,500 buy-in no-limit hold'em event, but again finished in runner-up position.
Phan was able to change all of these near misses into success in 2008. His first deep finish came at the World Poker Tour Bay 101 Shooting Star event, where Phan made the televised final table and took sixth place. At the 2008 WSOP, Phan finally got his first gold bracelet when he took down the $3,000 buy-in no-limit hold'em event. He pocketed almost $435,000 for the win. He waited a long time for the first bracelet but wouldn't have to wait more than a few days for his second. Just a couple events later, Phan won the $2,500 limit deuce-to-seven triple-draw lowball event.
Continuing his hot run, Phan made another WPT final table at the Bellagio Cup IV and finished fifth for almost $194,000. He didn't stop there. Determined to win a WPT title, he made his third final table of the year at the very next event. This time, he ended up on top. Phan won the 2008 WPT Legends of Poker for nearly $1.1 million.
This impressive run of poker results also put Phan on top when 2008 came to a close. He became the 2008 Card Player Player of the Year, winning the award with 6,704 points.