Berry Johnston

Berry Johnston is considered one of the best poker players in the world. He is known both for his poker game and for his gentlemanly conduct on the poker table. He has managed to earn the respect of one and all with his solid game and impeccable demeanor. This quiet and unassuming poker professional has to his credit five bracelets and an astonishing 60 money finishes in the World Series of Poker.johnston

Early Years away from Poker

Berry Johnston was born on the 25th of September 1935 in Benthany, Oklahoma. He was brought up in a traditional and deeply religious family. Johnston was fond of gambling since a young age. Gambling on golf was his only interest back then. He did not have plans of taking his interest in gambling in any other direction.

Johnston, being a very private and quiet man, not much is known about his early years. His interviews are rare and even when he gives an interview, he avoid talking about his personal life and focuses on poker. It is not known how much Johnston earned from golf, but he once admitted in an interview that he managed to make a living from it. It indicates that he was most probably earning well above what an average person can. He was introduced to poker for the 1st time at the age of 35. One day in the clubhouse he saw some of his golf buddies playing poker and soon he was addicted to it.

While most professional players who make it big in poker start playing at a very young age, Johnston was already in his 30s when he started learning the ins and outs of the game. After making the decision of playing poker professionally, he set himself 2 goals – to earn his living as a professional poker player and to become a world champion. Having a natural talent for the game, making a living playing poker was easy for him, but being a world champion was an entirely different thing. For this he would have to face and defeat players who have been playing poker almost all their lives. With these two goals Johnston left behind his hometown and moved to Las Vegas.

An Amazing Poker Career

When Johnston first came to Vegas in the 1970s, games like Stud, Limit and Omaha were much more popular than No Limit Hold’em. Johnston was fairly successful, especially in Omaha. But expertise in No Limit was necessary to win the World Championship. Finally, Johnston felt confident enough to take on the world’s best and decided to compete in the 1982 World Championship. He was 45 at the time. In the 1982 WSOP he finished 3rd and took home $104,000, but his dream remained unfulfilled. But it was the beginning of his high stakes poker career.

He earned his 1st WSOP bracelet in 1983 by winning a $2,500 Match play. 1986 was the most successful year for Johnston. He not only won a gold bracelet, but also became the World Champion by winning the WSOP main event. In 1990, he earned his 3rd WSOP bracelet and finished in the 5th place. He got his 4th and 5th bracelets in the 1995 and 2001 WSOP events. In 2008, he appeared in the game show ‘Poker After Dark’ aired on NBC. Apart from Johnston, it brought together other WSOP champions like Chris Ferguson, Phil Hellmuth, Huck Seed, Jamie Gold and Johnny Chan. Johnston was placed 4th in the game.

Interesting Facts

Johnston’s bankroll management is as impressive as his game. He says that the secret of his successful career lies in proper bankroll management. In spite of entering the poker world quite late, Johnston has managed to make a number of poker records. He has cashed more number of times (10 times) than any other player in the WSOP main event. He is ranked 4th and 42nd on the World Series of Poker all time cashes and all time money lists respectively.

His live poker tournament earnings were in the excess of $3.45 million in 2010. Of this, more than $2 million has come from WSOP cashes. In 2004, he was honoured with a place in the Poker Hall of Fame. He is sponsored by Full Tilt Poker. Pot Limit Omaha remains his favourite game. Throughout his career, he has always been a perfect gentleman, whether on the table or away from it. Even at the age of 75, Johnston has no plans of retiring. He continues to play high stakes poker games and take part in important poker tournaments.

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