Many notable players in poker are recognized for their exceptional results and flamboyant personalities. The pros know that having exciting personas at the table is one of the keys to fame. From Daniel Negreanu’s uncanny ability to know his opponents cards to Doyle Brunson’s signature cowboy hat, most pros enjoy standing out at the table.

While the poker scene is filled with explosive personalities, you needn’t to be brash to succeed. One of the best examples of quiet domination is the career of John “Luckbox” Juanda. This Asian poker pro is reserved at the table and even more mysterious because of it, but that does not detract from his impressive results. Today we’ll dive into this underrated poker superstar whose skill impresses even world-renowned players. 

Player Overview

John Juanda is a Indonesian-American poker pro of Chinese descent who is best known for his prolific tournament career. With over $25 million in tournament earnings, he is the highest-earning Indonesian poker pro and 27th on The Hendon Mob’s all-time money list. 

He has five World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets, six World Poker Tour (WPT) final tables, and one European Poker Tour (EPT) title. Juanda also has numerous accolades, such as Card Player Magazine’s Tournament Player of the Year, which he won back-to-back in 2001 and 2002.

While he has a quiet presence at the table, his tournament skills do not go unnoticed among other pros. Daniel Negreanu once remarked, “Perhaps the most underrated and neglected superstar in our game today is John Juanda. Without question, John has been the most successful tournament player in the world over the last five years.”

“His consistency is unrivalled. If you had to pick one guy to make a final table, your best bet would be John Juanda, hands down. Yet I’ll often read the message boards on the Internet and notice that John’s name is rarely mentioned among the list of greats.”

Juanda was also one of the co-founders of Full Tilt Poker, one of the biggest online poker sites in the world. He was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame for all his achievements in 2015.

Early Life

Johnson Juanda was born in Medan, North Sumatra, on July 8, 1971. His parents were busy working for the futures of their four children, so he lived with his grandparents. His father was a gambler but encouraged John to steer clear of gambling. John gambled a little, anyway, playing marbles briefly in grade school but focused on sports like track in high school. 

Traveling to study abroad, Juanda was introduced to poker by his friend on the flight to the US. After claiming his undergraduate degrees in marketing and management, he moved to Seattle and worked as a bible salesman to support his journey toward a Master’s degree

Juanda’s first introduction to Texas Hold’em came in 1996 when he visited a poker room for the first time. After watching the players for a while, he resolved to learn the game first before diving in. Reading every poker book he could, Juanda joined his first game a few weeks later.

Introduction to Poker

A hallmark of Juanda’s game is his astounding money management. “I should’ve framed that $100 bill I used to buy in to my first poker game,” Juanda said to ESPN. “I just kept winning, so I just kept playing. The $100 bill was the only money, to this day, I ever invested for poker out of my pocket that wasn’t a direct result of money won playing poker.”

These bankroll skills are simply one-of-a-kind in the gambler-rich scene of competitive poker. “John is one of the only guys out of all the big-time poker players, who I can honestly say has never had to worry about money,” remarked Daniel Negreanu who is happy to count Juanda amongst his friends. 

Poker quickly turned from a casual hobby to a consistent source of income for Juanda. “I’d spend 12 hours playing poker, then go home to sleep, and I couldn’t wait to get up and play again the next day.”

Tournament Career

Juanda’s tournament debut was in 1997, with him joining a few small tournaments in Los Angeles. His first WSOP cash came two years later when he finished 9th in the $1,500 Limit Hold’em event and 7th in the $3,000 Limit Hold’em event.

He continued a steady streak of WSOP cashes until 2002 when he earned his first bracelet. That year he made three final tables, one of which was in the $1,500 Limit Ace to Five Triple Draw event he won for $49,620.

Two weeks later, he claimed his first six-figure score at the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic: $278,240 for second place. This win in May also started a streak of final table finishes that lasted throughout the year.

In 2003, Juanda scored two more WSOP bracelets in the $2,500 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo Split and $2,500 Pot Limit Omaha events for over $300,000.

In 2004, Juanda founded an online poker company with eight other poker pros, including Chris Ferguson and Phil Ivey. He represented the website in tournaments up until its closure in 2011 as part of the infamous “Black Friday” incident of online poker.  

His next bracelet was a massive $1,580,096 win at the 2008 WSOP Europe Main Event. After 19 hours of final table action, he was the final player with chips having defeated a field that included Stanislav Alekhin, Daniel Negreanu, and Ivan Demidov. 

Juanda scored another big London cash two years later, this time at the EPT Main Event, where he finished second for $852,868. 

In 2011, Juanda earned his fifth bracelet and $367,170 in the $10,000 No Limit Deuce To Seven Draw World Championship.

After several big cashes at tournaments like the 2012 Macau High Stakes Challenge Super High Roller and WSOP Europe, Juanda won the 2015 EPT Barcelona for $1,164,034.

Two years later, he scored his biggest live cash to date by winning the Triton Poker Super High Roller Series Macau for $2,870,092.