John Hennigan is widely considered to be one of the toughest players in the world by his peers, and one of the most elite performers in the game by all. With over $3.7 million in live tournament earnings, two World Series of Poker gold bracelets and one World Poker Tour title, his record speaks for itself.
A former pool player, Hennigan is nicknamed "Johnny World" because of his willingness to bet on anything and everything in the world. Learning to play pool at a young age, Hennigan played the game professionally and traveled the pool circuit. Gambling is a part of many pool games, and he was a big gambler. When he couldn’t find someone to gamble with in pool, he looked to other avenues, one of which was poker.
Hennigan flew under the radar and stayed out of the big spotlight for some time in the poker world. He ran deep in the WSOP Main Event in 1999, but found his big breakout in 2002. That year, Hennigan won his first gold bracelet in the $2,000 H.O.R.S.E. event at the WSOP, earning $117,320.
That same year, he placed fourth in the WPT’s Five Diamond World Poker Classic for over $80,000. To close out the year, he took down the United States Poker Championship Main Event in Atlantic City for $216,000; an event in which he would return to the following year and place fifth in.
With one gold WSOP bracelet wrapped around his wrist, Hennigan was back in 2004 to claim another. He bested a final table that included T.J. Cloutier, An “The Boss” Tran, James McManus and David Chiu to take down the $5,000 Limit Hold’em event. The win was worth an additional $325,360 to his bankroll. Then at the 2005 WSOP, Hennigan placed in the money in three events and earned over $330,000 total.
Throughout his time on the tournament circuit, Hennigan continued to play cash games on the side. He sat in on some of the largest games around with the best players. He has often been referred to as one of the best, all-around cash players, and he's earned a lot of respect from his peers as being an extremely tough opponent to face.
In 2007, Hennigan traveled back to Atlantic City for the Borgata Winter Open. He came out on top of the Championship Event and earned over $1.6 million. In 2008, Johnny World won the Ante Up for Africa charity event at the WSOP.
Last year, Hennigan took 12th in this very event for $120,994.
With 1.412 million in chips entering Day 5 of Event #55: The $50,000 Poker Players' Championship, Hennigan is the second shortest stack returning. Given his acknowledged skill and experience, he will surely be a player that his opponents don't want to see climb up the ladder and get ahold of some chips.