About John Tabatabai

John Tabatabai
John Tabatabai

John Tabatabai was born in Cardiff, Wales, and was raised by his parents there together with his two sisters. He enjoyed a traditional childhood by all accounts, until he discovered chess, that is.

Blessed with an uncanny gift for the game, John studied hard and developed into a top chess player, eventually representing Wales in both European and World Championships.

Despite his penchant for heads-up play and intense competition, it was several years before John discovered poker, which he played for the first time in high school.  

During study periods John and his buddies would gather in the common room and sling cards, learning as they played. After losing 50 pence the first couple of games, John - a self proclaimed "bad loser" - started to research poker online and bought some books.

His interest piqued, the aspiring rounder got hooked on forums and discovered free-play sites, where he cut his teeth playing freerolls. After winning $5 in one such tournament, John began experimenting with bigger stakes and started to build a bankroll.

He continued to play online when he began studying for a law degree at university, and soon became known for his tight, aggressive style and friendly chatter at the tables. Cash games, tournaments, he played everything but had the unfortunate tendency to blow his bankroll in a single game.

Regardless, the poker world took notice of John's unique abilities and online mentoring sites came calling. A sensible boy who understood the weaknesses in his own game, John accepted a sponsorship agreement with a site and settled down to work on his game from the company's offices in London.

It was a wise decision on John's part. His bankroll management skills improved through guided, structured play: he was able to advance to the higher levels, learned to avoid going on tilt and began entering live events.

With little to no experience in the live tournament realm, John landed with a bang at the inaugural WSOP Europe Main Event final table in Sept. 2007. He claimed the chip lead and found himself heads-up against fellow online pro Annette Obrestad, a renowned MTT champion widely considered one of the best online players in Europe.

Annette_15 eventually claimed first place after chipping away at John's lead, and despite his disappointment at not taking first, he was delighted with his £570,150 (approx. $1 million) payout and second-place finish.

By far his biggest cash to date, John announced he was using his portion of the money for a down payment on a house and bought his buddies a round of drinks.

Since his WSOPE cash John has become a bonafide poker pro. With offers of sponsorship and endorsement deals pouring in, he hired an agent to take care of business while he focused on his game. And the results have been impressive.

In October 2007 he entered the 888.com U.K. Open where he won Heat 15 and took third in the semi-final for $12k. He followed that up with a third-place finish in Heat 9 of the PartyPoker.com European Open IV.

However, his most impressive live tournament finish post-WSOP Europe was his take down of the All Africa Poker Tournament in Swaziland. There, he overcame terrible cards and outlasted a large field to claim first place and it's $127k payout, after single-handedly eliminating each of his nine final table competitors.

Indeed, John Tabatabai is a rare gem in a world of young-guns-gone-mad. He's sensible, business savvy, well mannered and cheerful. Not to mention talented and ambitious.

With final-table cashes in some of the world's most prestigious offline and live events, he's proven that his abilities and drive rival those of poker's most successful pros. And it's a safe bet he'll continue to meet them at final tables for years to come.

Tournament Placing

Place Winnings Tournament
7 £17,318.00 WSOPE 2010 - Event 1: £2,500 Six-Handed No-Limit Hold'em
2 £570,150.00 2007 WSOPE - Event 3, No-Limit Texas Hold'em Main Event