A Masterful Nguyen

Men “the Master” Nguyen Wins Seventh WSOP Gold Bracelet

Veteran Poker Pro Victorious in 2010 Seven-Card Stud World Championship

Nguyen Adds $394,807 Cash to His $3 Million in WSOP Career Earnings

1-2 Finishers in $50,000 Buy-In Poker Players Championship, Mizrachi and Schmelev Become First Two to Make a Second Final Table at 2010 WSOP

Men “the Master” Nguyen was the winner of the 2010 Seven-Card Stud World Championship.  It marked his seventh career WSOP gold bracelet victory.  
The native of Vietnam who now resides in Bell Gardens, CA, was one of poker’s most dominant players during the 1990s.  He has cashed in more than 100 major tournaments and won several distinguished titles, establishing a well-deserved reputation as one of the game’s most flamboyant and accomplished superstars.  But until tonight, Nguyen had not won a WSOP victory in seven seemingly endless years.

Nguyen added to his legacy by winning a $10,000 buy-in stud competition played over three long days and nights.  Nguyen topped a field which included 150 of the world’s best Seven-Card Stud players and ultimately won the game’s most coveted prize – adding yet another treasured memento to his jewelry collection.

The runner up was Brandon Adams, a Harvard PhD who has emerged as one of poker’s top players -- although he has yet to win a WSOP gold bracelet.  Adams battled Nguyen and managed to take a brief chip lead over his rival when playing heads-up, even though “the Master” was clearly an intimidating force during most of the finale.  The third day was played in front of a huge gallery of spectators on the ESPN Main Stage at the Rio in Las Vegas.  

The final table also included Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi and Vladimir Schmelev.  They became the first two players at this year’s WSOP to make multiple final table appearances.  Both final tabled the $50,000 buy-in Poker Player's Championship, which ended five days earlier – finishing 1-2 respectively.

With his seventh victory, Nguyen joins Poker Hall of Fame inductee Billy Baxter and living legend Phil Ivey in a sixth-place tie for most WSOP career wins.

For official tournament results and additional details, please CLICK HERE.

THE CHAMPION -- Men “the Master” Nguyen

The 2010 Seven-Card Stud World Champion is Men Nguyen, from Bell Gardens, CA.

Men Nguyen is known universally throughout the poker world as simply, “the Master.”

Nguyen’s hometown of Bell Gardens, a suburb of Los Angeles, is the site of the Bicycle Club Casino, which has been a poker hotspot for more than 25 years.

Nguyen is 55-years-old.   He was born in Phan Thiet, Vietnam which is located in the Bình Thu?n Province, in the southeastern part of the country.  Nguyen immigrated to the United States three years after the fall of South Vietnam in 1978.

Nguyen escaped his native homeland on a boat, which made its way to Malaysia.  He was granted political asylum in the United States.

Nguyen has invested in a number of small businesses located in and around Los Angeles.  He is active in charity efforts and is one of the Vietnamese-American community’s most well-known celebrities.  However, most of his income comes from playing poker and staking various players.

Nguyen often wears personally-tailored clothing, which has “THE MASTER” stitched into the fabric.

Nguyen is one of poker’s most dynamic personalities to watch at the poker table.  While he has a fair number of detractors who do not care for his antics, Nguyen is usually the most talkative, and often the most combative, player at any table where he plays.

Nguyen won Card Player Magazine’s “Player of the Year” award an unequaled four times – in 1997, 2001, 2003, and 2005.

Nguyen has been playing poker full time since 1987.  His first trip to Las Vegas was in 1985.  He initially played low-to middle-limit Seven Card Stud games.  He then began playing poker at the Bell Club and Bicycle Club near his home.  By 1988, he was winning major poker tournaments held throughout Southern California.  

Nguyen’s first WSOP cash took place in 1988.

Prior to this victory, Nguyen’s prior WSOP gold bracelet victories came in:

Seven-Card Stud (1992)
Limit Hold’em (1995)
Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split (1995)
Limit Omaha High-Low Split (1996)
Seven-Card Stud (2003)
Limit Triple-Draw (2003)

Nguyen is reported to have more than 350 major cashes (the numbers vary).  However, since many (non-WSOP) tournament records were not kept nor published prior to the mid-1990s, the actual number of cashes is considerably higher.  Nguyen estimates he has closer to 500 cashes.

Although the topic is open to debate, Nguyen has very likely won more major poker tournaments than any player in poker history.  Some detractors may note that T.J. Cloutier could make a similar claim.  But Nguyen’s live tournament numbers are unmatched, according to virtually all poker news sources.

Nguyen has accumulated more than $8 million in total career tournament winnings.

Nguyen collected $394,807 for first place in this tournament.

Nguyen was presented with his seventh WSOP gold bracelet.  With the victory, Nguyen joins Poker Hall of Fame inductee Billy Baxter and living legend Phil Ivey in a sixth-place tie for most WSOP career wins.  Still above him in wins are Erik Seidel, Johnny Moss, Johnny Chan, Doyle Brunson, and Phil Hellmuth.

According to official records, Nguyen now has seven wins, 38 final table appearances, and 67 cashes at the WSOP.   His career WSOP earnings now total $2,193,358.

With his first-place finish, Nguyen now has 67 cashes during his WSOP career, which currently ranks second on the all-time list (Phil Hellmuth leads with 76).

With his final table appearance, Nguyen now has 38 final table appearances, which currently ranks in a tie for second place with T.J. Cloutier.  The all-time leader is Phil Hellmuth, with 40.

In addition to achieving success at the WSOP, Nguyen also holds the current record for most WSOP Circuit wins – with four.

Nguyen also owns four Hall of Fame (tournament) watches, which was the second-most prestigious tournament in poker for many years.  He won the watches at Binion’s Horseshoe, which were meant to symbolize what the gold bracelet represents.

This was Nguyen’s first WSOP victory at the Rio.  All of his previous wins took place at Binion’s Horseshoe.

Nguyen’s favorite form of poker is Seven-Card Stud.

Nguyen is very patriotic.  He often speaks glowingly about his own American experience.  He remains thankful that he was given an opportunity to immigrate to the United States and prosper.

Nguyen’s trademark beverage of choice is Corona Beer.  He often downs multiple six-packs in a single sitting.  

Nguyen is reported to have previously preferred Heineken (beer).  But following his meltdown at the 1996 WSOP Main Event final table when he blew the chip lead while consuming numerous bottles of green-bottled brew, he switched over to Corona.

Following his victory, Nguyen dedicated the victory to the late Ken “Skyhawk” Flaton, who was one of poker’s best Seven-Card Stud players for many years.  Flaton passed away in 2004.

His immediate thoughts following the victory:  “Every time I make a speech or get into an interview, I want to thank the United States of America for giving me this chance.”

On experiencing a gold bracelet draught at the WSOP since 2003, as he had not won a WSOP event in seven years:  “This is very, very big for me.  The last two bracelets I won were in 2003, and now it’s 2010.  I have not won any bracelets because a lot of people have come into our poker world.  I haven’t won because it’s kind of hard now.  It’s hard to break through.”

On his affection for Seven-Card Stud:  “This is my game….I love to play Stud.  Believe me, in any Stud tournament I will be there to play against the best in the world.”

On his reaction to being informed he had tied the great Artie Cobb for most Stud wins, with three:  “Artie Cobb was a very good Stud player -- one of the very best.  But I want to mention one of my friends who passed away -- Kenny Flaton.  Kenny was one of my best friends.  And he passed away.  He was one of the very best in Stud.  We both played many, many years.  I mention him because he (belongs) with Artie Cobb.  I have been with Kenny many times.  This is for you, Kenny.”

On achieving his first victory at the Rio:  “I have not won any tournaments here at the Rio.  When they moved the tournament here in 2005, I (missed) the Horseshoe.  I felt very good playing there.  I won a lot there.  But I am superstitious.  I thought when it moved here, it was very hard for me to win.  I’m a good player.”  

The final table consisted of three former WSOP gold bracelet winners – Men “the Master” Nguyen, Steve Billirakis, and Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi.

Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi and Vladimir Schmelev became the first two players at this year’s WSOP to make multiple final table appearances.  Both final tabled the $50,000 buy-in Poker Player's Championship, which ended five days earlier.  Schmelev finished as the runner up to Mizrachi in that tournament.

Only two nations were represented at the final table – Russia (two players) and the United States (seven players).

The final table began eight-handed.  In official WSOP records, the official “final table” of Seven-Card Stud events includes the top eight finishers, since the final table is comprised of eight players, instead of the customary nine for flop games.
The runner up was Brandon Adams, from Pensacola, FL.  He will receive his PhD from Harvard at the end of this year.  Adams has emerged in recent years as one of poker’s top players -- although he has yet to win a WSOP gold bracelet.  Adams battled Nguyen and managed to take a brief chip lead over his rival when playing heads-up.  But Adams went card dead at the worst possible time and never seriously threatened Nguyen during the final hour of play.  He collected $243,958.

Adams holds Masters degrees in both finance and real estate.

Adams is the author of “Broke: A Poker Novel.”

The third-place finisher was Steve Billirakis, from Genoa, IL.  He won his gold bracelet in the first event of the 2007 WSOP.  At the time, Billirakis became the youngest WSOP winner in WSOP history at the age of 21.  That mark has since been eclipsed by Annette Obrestad, who won the inaugural WSOP Europe championship at the age of 18, because in the UK, the legal age is 18, unlike in Nevada where it is 21.  Billirakis added another $152,787 in prize money in what was his eighth WSOP cash.

The fourth-place finisher was Nikolay Evdakov, from Moscow, Russia.  He received $110,628 in his highest WSOP finish ever.  Evdakov holds the all-time WSOP record as the player with most cashed in a single year – with 10.  He accomplished that feat in 2008.  Evdakov has 17 cashes over the past three years at the WSOP – more than any other player in that time span.

The fifth-place finisher was Joe Cassidy, from Costa Mesa, CA.  This marked his 12th time to cash at the WSOP.  He added $86,461 to his WSOP winnings, which now total in excess of $300,000.

The sixth-place finisher was Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi, from Miramar, FL.  He currently holds the top spot in the 2010 WSOP “Player of the Year” race.  Mizrachi now has 21 WSOP-related cashes totaling nearly $2.5 million.  Sixth place paid $68,949.

The seventh-place finisher was Vladimir Schmelev, from St. Petersburg, Russia.  He owns and operates a major bank.  Schmelev raced into contender status for 2010 WSOP “Player of the Year” in what was his second final table appearance.  He finished second to Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi in the $50,000 buy-in Poker Players Championship.  Remarkably, his $55,991 cash in this tournament propelled him across the $1 million mark in his two WSOP cashes.  

The eighth-place finisher was Sirious Jamshidi.  Despite winning more than $1.7 million in poker tournaments since 2005, Jamshidi has largely remained under the radar at the WSOP, a situation which is likely to change fast as he continues making final tables.  This was Jamshidi’s ninth time to cash at the WSOP.  He has finished in-the-money now for six consecutive years.  Eighth place paid $46,205.

Dan Heimiller barely missed making his second final table at this year’s WSOP.  He finished in ninth place.  Heimiller finished as the runner up to Praz Bansi three days earlier playing in the $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em (Event #5).

The final table officially began at 6:00 pm and ended at 2:45 am.  The final table clocked in at 8 hours, 45 minutes.
The top 16 finishers collected prize money.  Aside from those who made the final table, only one other former WSOP gold bracelet finisher cashed in this event – Dan Heimiller (9th place).

Eric Buchman finished in 12th place.  Buchman finished in fourth place in last year’s WSOP Main Event, which paid $2,502,787.

The defending champion was Freddie Ellis, from Brooklyn, NY.  Last year, he defeated poker industry legend Eric Drache in a four-hour heads-up match.  Ellis returned this year to defend his title but did not cash.

This is the 840th gold bracelet event in World Series of Poker history.  Note:  This figure includes every official WSOP event played, including tournaments during the early years when there were no actual gold bracelets awarded.  It also includes the 11 gold bracelets awarded at WSOP Europe (to date).

The final table was played on the ESPN Main Stage.  On an adjacent stage, the $1,500 buy-in Pot-Limit Hold’em finale was played.  Most days at the WSOP this year include two tournament starts, two Day Twos, and two final tables.

This is designated as a "World Championship" event.  While all WSOP gold bracelet events are "championships," the "World Championship" designation applies only to an event with a buy-in of $10,000 or more.

The official WSOP gold bracelet ceremony takes place on the day following the winner’s victory (or some hours later when the tournament runs past midnight).  The ceremony takes place inside The Pavilion, which is the expansive main tournament room hosting all noon starts this year.  The ceremony begins at the conclusion of the first break of the noon tournament, usually around 2:20 pm.  The national anthem of the winner’s nation is played.  The entire presentation is open to public and media.  Video and photography are permitted by both public and members of the media.

Nguyen requested that the national anthem of the United States be played at his WSOP gold bracelet ceremony.

Ten years ago, Seven-Card Stud was the most popular game in casinos on the East Coast, primarily in big gambling destinations such as Atlantic City and Foxwoods.  In fact, Seven-Card Stud games outnumbered hold'em games several times over.  Some East Coast casinos did not even spread Hold'em, since Seven-Card Stud was the game of choice.  But everything changed in 2003, most crediting (or blaming) the cosmic shift on Chris Moneymaker's victory, which instantly created millions of new players curious about No-Limit Hold'em.  Seven-Card stud has been steadily declining in popularity since then.  However, it remains popular enough to merit inclusion on the WSOP schedule. Its cousin - Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split, a.k.a. Eight-or-Better, is actually more popular now as a tournament game.

Seven-Card Stud made its debut at the 1973 WSOP.  “Puggy” Pearson was the very first stud champion.

The Ladies World Poker Championship featured Seven Card Stud during its first 20 years.  It switched to No-Limit Hold’em due to the reversing popularity of games.

Six players in WSOP history own two gold bracelets in Seven-Card Stud.  They are Johnny Moss, Bones Berland, Marty Sigel, Ted Forrest, Mel Judah and Rod Pardey Sr.

Two players now have three WSOP gold bracelets in Seven-Card Stud – Artie Cobb and Men Nguyen.

Prior to Nguyen’s victory, Artie Cobb is the only player in WSOP history who owns three gold bracelets in Seven-Card Stud.  He did not enter this event.  Note: Cobb's fourth gold bracelet came in Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split, which more precisely gives him four wins in Stud-related events.

Other prior Seven-Card Stud winners include two poker legends -- Stu Ungar and Chip Reese.

The $10,000 buy-in Seven-Card Stud World Championship debuted two years ago.  Prior to then, there were numerous Seven-Card Stud events played with various buy-ins.  The $10,000 “World Championship” tag was first attached in 2008.

Former Seven-Card Stud World Champions include:

Freddie Ellis (2009)
Eric Brooks (2008)

Last year's event attracted 142 entries. Entries increased slightly this year to 150 players.  This was the sixth of 10 WSOP events completed so far to enjoy increased participation over last year.

The tournament was played over three consecutive days, from June 3-5, 2010.  Technically, the tournament stretched into a fourth day -- since play ended at 2:50 am on Day Four.

Nikolay Evdakov was the chip leader during most of the first half of the final table.  Nguyen led most of the way once play reached three-handed.  However, Brandon Adams also held the chip lead at one point.

The final hand of the tournament came when Nguyen and Adams battled it out with the following hands:


Nguyen caught two pair on seventh-street, kings and sixes.  Adams was stuck with an exposed single pair of queens, and a second-place finish.  Nguyen ended up as the victor.

Through the conclusion of Event #10, the 2010 WSOP has attracted 11,882 total entries;  $21,631,200 in prize money has been awarded to winners.

Through the conclusion of Event #10, the nationalities of winners have been:

United States (5)
Canada (2)
England (2)
Hungary (1)

Through the conclusion of Event #10, the national origin (birthplace) of winners has been:

United States (3)
Vietnam (2)
Canada (2)
England (2)
Hungary (1)

Through the conclusion of Event #10, the ratio of professional poker players to semi-pros and amateurs who won gold bracelets is as follows:

Professional Players (7):  Michael Chow, Michael Mizrachi, Praz Bansi, Josh Tieman, Peter Gelencser, James Dempsey, Men “the Master” Nguyen

Semi-Pros (0):  None

Amateurs (3):  Duc Pham, Aadam Daya, Pascal LeFrancois  

Note:  A “pro” is defined as a player who makes the majority of his/her income from playing poker.  However, there is some debate as to whether players who have lucrative industry deals and backing should really be termed as professionals.  A “semi-pro” is defined as a player who derives some measure of income from playing poker over a reasonable period of time.  However, many semi-pros have non-poker related business interests which provide a majority of earnings.  “Amateurs” are players who have other means of support and do not play poker for income -- either part-time or full-time.  Each winner is judged on a by case basis