Johnny Bax used to be an enigma wrapped up in a riddle. No one knew where he came from. The identity of the person who played online under the screen name "Johnny Bax" was a mystery. Some rumors suggested that he was an under-aged high school kid. One crackpot conspiracy theorist pegged Johnny Bax as an artificial intelligence "bot." Others thought he was a Las Vegas pro playing incognito.
If you've played in any WSOP satellite or in the bigger buy-in MTTs online, then you've probably crossed paths with Johnny Bax. He's an exceptional NL tournament specialist and has won multiple seats to the 2005 WSOP main event. It takes some players several years and thousands of dollars to win one seat, but Johnny Bax won seven of them online in one year.
The first time I ever heard about Johnny Bax was during the 2005 WSOP. He flew out to Vegas to play in two NL events and was busted out of the first one by a wicked bad beat. Bax had never played Stud before but was itching to play. He bumped into Scott Fischman and Brett "Gank" Jungblut in the hallway of the Rio. Moments before the $1,500 Seven-card Stud event began, they gave Bax a five minute tutorial on how to play Stud. Bax heeded their advice and survived the first day of a tough field that was comprised of 472 players. When the final table began, Bax was second in chips. He outlasted two-time bracelet winner Minh Nguyen and beat Russian Kirill Gerasimov heads-up for the victory. Bax won $192,000 and his first bracelet. At that point, the world discovered Jonny Bax's true identity. Superman was Clark Kent. Spiderman was Peter Parker. And Johnny Bax was... Cliff Josephy, a mild-mannered stockbroker from New York with a wife and three kids.
"I never would have dreamed I could win this event," Bax said in his post victory interview. "Stud is made up of good players. It's not like Hold'em where you raise with all your chips and some donkey calls you down with a 10-3 of diamonds. People who enter stud tournaments, most of them know how to play... except me, of course."
The origins of Johnny Bax (born as Cliff Josephy) started on Long Island, NY where he grew up. He played poker in home games during high school and in college at the University of Michigan. During a trip to Florida to visit his parents in late 2004, he watched his father play online poker and his interest piqued. Bax's father transferred him money to play with and the legend began.
Two years ago, Bax started out playing $30 SNGs while plugging holes in his NL game by reading poker books and discussing hands with friends. These days, Johnny Bax is a semiretired stockbroker who makes his living playing online tournaments after he burnt out working long hours on Wall Street.
Bax is also a successful crossover player, something that online players have a tough time doing in a live game. Over the past 18 months, Bax cashed in six WPT events and won one WSOP bracelet. Recently, Bax took 11th at the WPT Borgata Winter Open and finished an impressive 12th place at the WPT Championships.
At the end of 2005, Bax added to his mystique by winning the prestigious Leaderboard Tournament on PokerStars. As of June 1, 2006, Pocketfves.com has Johnny Bax ranked #1 as the top internet player even though he often skips the big online tournaments on the weekends to spend time with his family and children.
A century from now, poker players will spin tales about the time an internet player by the name of Johnny Bax won a WSOP bracelet in his first ever Stud tournament. As far as online poker legends go, Johnny Bax is considered one of the best NL Hold'em online tournament players in cyberspace today.