#14 - Scotty Nguyen

The 40th Annual World Series of Poker is only weeks away. Between now and the start of the Main Event BluffMagazine.com will be presenting the 40 Greatest Champions in WSOP history exclusively on WorldSeriesofPoker.com. 

Scotty Nguyen has been the most discussed poker player in the last year since his performance at the 2008 $50k H.O.R.S.E. event. Whether you’re a fan or not, Nguyen has accomplished feats in poker that very few have achieved. He is the only player to win the WSOP Main Event and the $50k H.O.R.S.E. titles, only one of five players that have the Main Event and a WPT $10k event, and poker’s first Triple Crown winner (Main Event, 50k H.O.R.S.E., and WPT title).

Also known as “The Prince of Poker,” Nguyen has five WSOP bracelets; all of which have come since 1997. His first bracelet came in a Limit Omaha HiLo event where he bested Mike Mattusow and Ted Forrest. Before capturing his Main Event bracelet in 1998 he made two final tables and one other cash. Nguyen won two bracelets in two variations of Omaha in 2001; Limit Omaha HiLo and Pot Limit Omaha. He has had two other very deep runs in the Main Event. He suffered meltdown in 2007 where he was seemingly destined for the Final Table but ultimately busted in 11th.  He managed an 18th place finish in the 2003 Main Event.

Nguyen’s controversial table antics in his bracelet winning $50k H.O.R.S.E. performance led to a WSOP rule change, hundreds of discussions in online forums, and ultimately an open public apology from Nguyen. Despite public opinion, Nguyen is a favorite to repeat in the event after another notable H.O.R.S.E. win in the 2009 LA Poker Classic.

Nothing speaks louder than results; of Nguyen’s 36 WSOP cashes he has made the final table in 19 of them. He is twelfth on the all time WSOP money earners’ list, keeping in mind that there are four ahead of him without a bracelet (recent runners up in the Main Event) and four people with only one bracelet (Gold, Eastgate, Yang, Hachem, and Raymer). In fact, only two multiple bracelet winners rank above Nguyen, Allen Cunnigham and Phil Hellmuth.

Nguyen arrived in the U.S. from Vietnam in 1974 after he spent time in a Taiwanese refugee camp. He found himself in Illinois and was miserable, he was then able to gain a new sponsor and move to Southern California. That was where Nguyen’s passion of poker grew and eventually led him to Las Vegas. He worked at cleaning tables and dealing cards, learning valuable early lessons from the winners and losers he dealt to.

From a refugee to poker’s Prince, Nguyen has seen the best and the worst that life has to offer. Still, even when the cards aren’t turning his way, in poker or in life, Nguyen is smiling because, “that’s poker baby!”