john hennigan poker world

John Hennigan: From Pool Shark to Poker Pro

John Hennigan the poker player (not to be confused with John Hennigan wrestler) is an American pro who hails from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His claim to fame is his impressive four World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets and a World Poker Tour (WPT) title. Thus far, anyway.

Before his impressive poker career, Hennigan was a professional pool player after having learned to play at a young age and becoming hooked. He traveled the circuit frequently and became quite the gambler.

His willingness to bet on “anything in the world” earned him the nickname “Johnny World”. Hennigan stopped playing professionally when he came to the realization that pool was not enough to make a decent living. The next logical step was to become a professional poker player. Lucky for Hennigan, he has been successful since day one. Hennigan still shoots pool whenever he has the time.

Hennigan is considered a somewhat risky player who is known for aggressiveness coupled with high-risk techniques. Whereas high risk oftentimes leads to high rewards, high risk can also result in big losses. For Hennigan, thankfully, this style has paid off well.

The 47-year-old Hennigan has made some truly impressive showings throughout his 21-year professional poker career. He currently ranks 68th on the U.S. All Time Money List with career earnings nearing $7 million.

John Hennigan at the WSOP

In only his second big tournament, Hennigan finished an impressive 19th in the 1999 WSOP $10,000 NLHE Main Event, winning nearly $28,000.

Then, in 2002, Hennigan made the final table of the WSOP $1,500 seven-card stud event. Just four days later, he won his first bracelet in the $2,000 H.O.R.S.E. event after defeating poker greats like Phil Ivey and Men Nguyen to pocket the $117,320 prize.

Hennigan’s second bracelet came in 2004 after besting such players as T.J. Cloutier, An Tran, James McManus, and David Chiu in the $5,000 Limit Hold’Em Event where he was rewarded with a $325,360 payout.

Despite not winning any of his entered events in the 2005 WSOP—$5,000 Short Handed NLHE, $5,000 NLHE, and $5,000 No Limit Deuce-to-Seven Draw—Hennigan did place in the money all three times and won over $300,000.

In 2008, Hennigan won the WSOP Ante Up for Africa Charity Event. However, at this same event in 2009, he finished seventh. Here’s his gracious exit courtesy of Adam Richardson who went on to finish second behind Alex Bolotin.

Hennigan won his third WSOP bracelet in 2014 at the $50,000 Poker Players Championship—one of the most prestigious poker events in the world and a tournament in which he previously cashed three times. For his efforts and skill, Hennigan collected just over $1.5 million.

john hennigan wsop winners photo

And then, in 2016, Hennigan took first place in the WSOP’s $10,000 Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball Limit Event, winning his fourth coveted bracelet and a hefty $320,000 prize.

As of this writing, Hennigan has cashed for a total of $6,806,925 in his career.

John Hennigan at the World Poker Tour

Prior to his first—and, thus far, only—WPT title, Hennigan made it to the final table of the 2002 Five Diamond World Poker Classic where he placed fourth. Then, in January 2007, Hennigan won the WPT $10,000 Borgata Winter Open NLHE Championship Event in Atlantic City and a cool $1.6 million—his largest single cash prize to date.

Other notable accomplishments

In addition to his tournament play, Hennigan is also quite active and successful in various cash games. If you have an extra, oh, four hours to kill, take a look at this $300/$600 Mixed Game of Hold’Em, Omaha, Badugi, and Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw that was Live at the Bike in April, 2005.

In fact, some well-known professional poker players today—including Gavin Smith and Daniel Negreanu—consider Hennigan to be among the very best poker players—if not the best—they have ever faced. Now, that’s a compliment, indeed.

Note: Want to upgrade your poker skills? Get free preflop charts here and start playing like a pro before the flop. Download now!

John Hennigan movie star?

Hennigan—along with many other poker superstars—had a small role in the 2007 film Lucky You starring Drew Barrymore, Robert Duvall, and Eric Bana. Here’s a clip from this rather lackluster poker flick, and John Hennigan actor did a great job playing, essentially, himself.

He also had a role in the 2007 documentary short The Players at the Table where real-life poker players discussed the game.

John Hennigan on the felt

But of course, you’re likely reading this to  learn more about John Hennigan, poker player. Fear not. Here are a few clips of Hennigan in action.


Versus Mike Matusow

In this entertaining clip from the 2016 National Heads Up Poker Championship, Hennigan is bested by The Mouth. What is most impressive, however, is how calm, cool, and collected Hennigan is despite Matusow’s, shall we say, mouth.

Versus Brandon Shack Harris

Here’s a hand from the 2014 WSOP $50,000 Poker Players Championship—the event from where bracelet number three came.

Versus Brandon Shack Harris, part 2

And here’s the rather mundane final hand of the $50,000 Players Championship as well as a post-win interview with the champion.

There is no doubt that John Hennigan has some mad skills in the poker realm, and he seems like a genuinely humble and nice guy to boot (something that is obviously lacking in certain other big-time poker pros who shall remain nameless).

Until next time.

Note: Want to upgrade your poker skills? Get free preflop charts here and start playing like a pro before the flop. Download now!

Read more from Upswing Poker:

Home > John Hennigan: From Pool Shark to Poker Pro
Home > John Hennigan: From Pool Shark to Poker Pro
About the Author
Natalie Faulk

Natalie Faulk

Natalie Faulk is a Las Vegas-based freelance writer/blogger and the author of several books. She is an avid low-stakes (for now) poker player and huge Vegas Golden Knights fan.

Put Your Skills to the Test with Quick Poker Quizzes!