‘Orient Express’ keeps rolling!

Jun 10, 2003 5:05 AM

I have played with the greatest poker players of all time. I have played with them on their way up, and I have played with them on their way down.

You can tell a hunter by the skins on the wall. The player I’m speaking of not only has the skins, he now has the wall to put them on in the hall of Binion’s Poker Hall of Fame.

Did I say skins? How about eight gold bracelets from the World Series of Poker?

And as soon as he is old enough to play with us, the Seniors World Championship of Poker, he will be placed on the short list of inductees and will have my recommendation into the Seniors WCOP Poker Players Hall of Fame.

Of course, I’m speaking about Johnny Chan, the "Orient Express."

Let me say a little about Johnny on his way to the top of the poker world.

I first remember playing with Johnny, 20 plus years ago, in the Stairway to the Stars poker tournament at the Stardust.

Bob Thompson, a member of the Seniors WCOP Poker Players Hall of Fame, designed the Stairway poker tournament and it was a poker player’s dream.

I had been busting Johnny, each time we would play a little $5 and $10 poker when he could get off duty from his work.

But the time I remember most was in the Match Play No Limit event of the Stairway to the Stars Tournament. I was headed up with Johnny, and in those days I played a little better than I do now.

And Johnny said to me, "Oh, Johnny! You have busted me again." Actually, I really got lucky and managed to get all of Johnny’s chips and won the tournament.

Well, it did not take Johnny very long until he learned everything that I knew about all the different poker games, and then it was my turn to return to Johnny all the $5 and $10 bills that I was holding for him.

Johnny kept learning and playing, and I just continued to play for the fun of it.

I was visiting with Johnny during the World Series, and we agreed that nothing is given to us. But you have to earn it, and that things are really not worth having if you do not have to pay a price in time, energy and/or money to attain it.

Well, Johnny paid his dues and has won the world of poker:

Eight gold bracelets,

Top tournament money winner with over $3.3 million at the WSOP,

CEO of the Hustler Casino in Los Angeles,

Won back from me all the $5 and $10 bills that I was holding for him.

I saw the movie and read the book, "Murder on the Orient Express." I am happy to have the opportunity to be on board with Johnny on his "Orient Express," and play a few hands with him on his way to the top of the poker world.

In honor of Johnny Chan, here is his poker tip of the week:

You have to pay your dues,

Poker is like going to school.

Some quit before finishing high school

And some stop after high school or college.

Others get their master’s degree,

But the best players never quit learning.

Thanks, Johnny, and remember to stay lucky!