Cookies on the PokerWorks Website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the PokerWorks website. However, if you would like to, you can change your cookie settings at any time.

Continue using cookies

Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Where Are They Now - Scotty Nguyen

Share this
Where are They Now is a series of an in depth look at all poker players - not just the pros - as they travel through one long game. Some of the players profiled are deceased but not forgotten.

Scotty Nguyen is both one of the most successful poker players of all time, and also one of the most well known.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Nguyen came from relatively humble beginning, but before too long he was placing at the top, or near the top, in every major poker tournament in existence.  His “that’s poker baby!” response to a bad beat, either for or against him, can be heard thousands of times a day from the penny blind tables to the biggest games in the world.  Don’t let the always present bottle of Michelob fool you, Nguyen has one of the brightest minds of the game, and if you have any weakness at all, he’ll be sure to find it sooner before later.

Thuan Nguyen was born the first of 13 children to his family in Vietnam in October of 1962.  Even at a very young age, Nguyen knew that he would never grow to be able to enjoy his war torn country, and was already making plans to leave it as soon as he could.  At the tender age of 11 he fled Vietnam for Taiwan.  From the ages of 11 to 13 he would spend the majority of his hours doing manual labor in an attempt to make some money for himself in case he ever got the chance to come to America.  At the age of 14 he was able to locate a family in America that would be like a foster home to him, but was called a “sponsor family,” as the family would only see that Nguyen would be able to take care of himself before letting him go. 

His first stop in the USA was Chicago, but soon upon arriving Nguyen knew Chicago would be too cold for him, and he was soon looking for a sponsor family in a warmer part of the country.  His request was granted when he was told a family in Orange County, California would be taking him in.  

Nguyen started school upon arrival in Orange County, but he wouldn’t stay long.  During the first few days of school he was taught a game that would change his life forever, poker.  Because of his new love for poker, he was very uninterested in anything the teachers would have to say, and would often camp out in the back of the classroom, or an unoccupied room, and hold poker games with other students.  After constant suspensions and reprimands from the teachers and the principal, Nguyen was kicked out of school.  Predictably, Nguyen wasn’t too upset.

As a young child in Vietnam he would often dream of a place he had only seen in pictures – Las Vegas.  With no school to attend, his sponsor family said he was free to go, and around the age of 16 he got a job busing tables at Harrah’s Casino in Las Vegas.  While he wasn’t exactly living the high life he had dreamed about, he had finally made it to Vegas.  Because the manager at the time at Harrah’s couldn’t pronounce Thuan, he started calling him Scotty.  After cleaning off tables for a while he was asked if he would like to start dealing poker.  

Nguyen didn’t just see dealing cards as a job.  He saw it as an opportunity to make his game better by watching the patterns and reactions of the players he was dealing too.  When Scotty had saved up enough money, he started participating in some of the smaller buy-in tournaments.  Like most other professionals he hit some snags along the way, often returning to his dealing job to make more money to try tournaments again.  

In the early 90’s, Nguyen began to sit at the poker table instead of stand at it more and more often.  Between November 1991 and August 1994, Nguyen placed in 10 tournaments that had a buy-in of $300 or less.  Even at an early stage in his poker career Nguyen showed proficiency at all types of poker.  Of the 10 tournaments he placed in during this time period, the different events were Limit Hold’em, Pot Limit Hold’em, Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo, Omaha, Omaha Hi/Lo, and No Limit Hold’em.  Although he earned around $65,000 in these 10 tournaments, the learning experience was worth more than the money, as soon the big paydays would start coming.

After his success at the lower buy-ins, Nguyen was now ready to play in the big leagues, most noticeably the World Series of Poker.  His first of 36 cashes at the WSOP came in the $2,500 Limit Hold’em event in 1995 when he finished in 13th place for $4,650, a sign of things to come.  He again placed in the Limit Hold’em event the following year, but the next year would bring big things for Nguyen.

In 1997, Nguyen won his first WSOP bracelet in the $2000 Omaha 8 or Better event, netting him $156,000.  While that event was obviously a big one in his life, an event he had nothing to do with inspired him even more.  It was in this year that Stuey “The Kid” Ungar, in debt, and battling a drug addiction, virtually came out of nowhere to take down the Main Event.  Nguyen watched on in wonder, telling himself that he too would win the Main Event.  Nguyen even took to carrying a magazine of Ungar on the cover celebrating his victory, to remind himself of his goal.  He wouldn’t have to wait long.

The following year Nguyen not only won the most coveted prize in poker, taking home one million dollars, but he also gave birth to yet another of pokers most famous quotes.  Heads up against Kevin McBride, the table showed a full house (9-9-8-8-8).  Nguyen put McBride all-in.  McBride, stunned, was visibly upset by the turn of events.  Nguyen then uttered the famous words, “You call, gonna be all over baby.”  McBride called, announcing he was playing the board.  Nguyen flipped over the nine, giving him the higher full house and the coveted World Series of Poker championship.

Nguyen has continued to find success at the poker table since his victory, winning an additional three bracelets, to put his total at five.  Most recently he made poker history when he won the $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. tournament at the 2008 WSOP.  With the victory he became the first player in history to win both the H.O.R.S.E event and the Main Event.  

Despite his very recent success, the 2007 Main Event has been called the tournament that “got away.”  With 18 players to go Nguyen held a sizeable chip stack lead against a field or relatively unknown players.  Many people believed that Nguyen would have had a huge advantage at the final table because of his experience and aggressiveness.  However, he never got the chance because a series of bluff attempts gone wrong, and a bad beat, or two, he was eliminated in 11th place.  Since the internet poker boom, this has been the closest a full-time, well known, poker player has come to winning the event.

Nguyen has obviously not allowed this to get to him, because between this let down and the 2008 H.O.R.S.E. title, he placed in 11 of the bigger tournaments around the world.  Nguyen has been quoted as saying that no other player has won as many Omaha events as him.  With tournament result catalogs being a relatively new invention, it’s hard to say if that is an accurate statement.  However, in recent times, that certainly is the case, he has 13 first place finishes, and about a dozen more final table finishes.  

Nguyen has been known to dabble in the big games around Las Vegas, but has recently said that he would like to concentrate mainly on tournaments because he feels that’s the biggest test for him.  If he feels that it’s a test to play other people in tournaments, imagine what his opponents think when see him sitting at the same table with them.  That isn’t a test, that’s an emergency.

News Flash

The IRS Scores Big at 2015 WSOP ME Final Table

The IRS managed to snag 34.13 percent from the payouts of the 2015 November Nine, totaling $8,467,091.

Read more

Quick Room Review

Bonus Room review

Subscribe to the Nightly Turbo

Be the first to know all the latest poker news, tournament results, gossip and learn all about the best online poker deals straight from your inbox.

RSS Feed