Las Vegas (April 20, 2011) – It’s one thing to win a major poker tournament.  It’s quite another to do it with unwavering style and flair. 

Nhu “Taylor” Nguyen won the latest World Series of Poker Circuit event held at Caesars Palace Las Vegas.  For those who were present in the poker room and witnessed Nguyen’s outstanding performance and demeanor, it was unquestionably the most impressive feat of any player at this year’s Caesars series, to date.

Nguyen not only overcame a huge tournament field size totaling 500 players, she also outplayed everyone she faced and won in most convincing fashion.  At one point during the final table, she even took a few beats.  Yet she managed to pull herself back together, stormed back, and ultimately claimed the top prize.

Perhaps even more impressive was Nguyen’s uncanny ability to block out distractions and diffuse table talk that might have derailed most other championship ambitions.  She endured a fair amount of trash talk from at least one of her opponents.  The adversary probably harbored no evil intentions nor were his remarks personal in nature.  Nonetheless, his constant chatter included deriding his opponents when he managed to hold an advantage.  In the end, the bravado backfired, with Nguyen holding a proverbial double-barrel shotgun cocked and ready to fire.

Ka-boom!

On the surface, casual observers would not look upon Ms. Nguyen as a fiercely-competitive poker player.  She is perfectly manicured and polite.  She smiles often.  She talks to people, including her friends as well as those she has just met at the table.  But underneath the surface, one also senses this lady knows very well what she is doing.  She seems right at time at the poker table.

Nguyen is in fact, a 28-year-old business owner, from Houston, TX.  She owns and operates a wholesale importing company, dealing in mattresses and furniture.  She has been quite successful with her company.  But when she’s not working at her business, Nguyen is often out somewhere playing poker.

Her regular hangouts at cardrooms at Harrah’s New Orleans, another casino in Lake Charles (Louisiana), and when she has time to come to Las Vegas -- Caesars Palace serves as her home away from home.  Nguyen usually prefers playing in cash games.  She mostly plays $2-5 and $5-10 blind No-Limit Hold’em as well was Pot-Limit Omaha.  But she is now “transitioning more to tournaments,” she says.

Nguyen’s tournament experience was limited up to this point to a scattershot of perhaps a dozen tournaments played here and there.  She played in last year’s Ladies Championship at the WSOP in Las Vegas.  She bubbled a few events elsewhere.  But up to this point, she had not really enjoyed an opportunity to test her tournament skills and prove her natural talent for the game.  That breakthrough moment finally took place in this tournament, as she overcame every conceivable challenge en route to victory.

“I played really well, but I also caught some cards,” Nguyen said afterward.  “I think I made the most of the situations where I had advantages and also did not ever give up, even when I lost a few big hands.”

At one point during the final table, Nguyen was offered an opportunity to chop up the prize money.  Many players in her situation would likely have accepted the offer.  But not Nguyen.

“It was an easy decision for me.  I was not going to settle for (one of the lower places),” she said.  “It’s not just about pride.  It’s about the ring.  I wanted to win the WSOP Circuit gold ring.”

Well, Nguyen got her ring.  The gold ring.  But, in a sense – she won a lot more on this night money and a token of achievement.  She won self-confidence, a feeling of immense personal satisfaction, and perhaps most of all – admiration all from those around her.

Nguyen won a tournament trifecta.  And, it doesn’t get any better than that.

…………….

Taylor Nguyen won the $300 (+50) buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament, classified as Event #4.   This was the fourth of ten official gold ring events played this year at Caesars Palace Las Vegas.  The total prize pool amounted to $144,000.  The top 54 finishers collected prize money.  A full list of all players who cashed in EVENT 4 can be seen here.

Attendance was a smashing success.  In fact, this was the biggest tournament held at Caesars Palace since 2009, in a similar WSOP Circuit event.  The huge turnout was somewhat unexpected, given the starting day fell on a Tuesday – not exactly the busiest day of the week for poker rooms.  Virtually all big tournament fields occur on weekends, even in Las Vegas.

But players did indeed flood into the Caesars Palace Poker Room, so many in fact, that the initial stages of the event included an alternate list.  Within an hour, all players were comfortably seated and the only discernable sound was the constant rustle of poker chips. 

The tournament was played over two consecutive days.  After most of the starting field was eliminated on Day One, 30 survivors returned for Day Two action.  Final table play began on late Wednesday afternoon in the top section of the Caesars Palace Poker Room.  The finalists and their starting chip counts were as follows:

Seat 1:  Jeremiah Debreef (Sandy, UT) – 900,000 in chips            
Seat 2:  Kennii Nguyen (Chicago, IL) – 410,000 in chips         
Seat 3:  Joel Nimmo (Pasco, WA) – 698,000 in chips        
Seat 4:  Mehmet Karsli (Istanbul, Turkey) – 232,000 in chips 
Seat 5:  Craig M. Goddard (UK) – 800,000 in chips      
Seat 6:  Vincent Maglio (Revere, MA) – 502,000 in chips          
Seat 7:  Paul Baizano (Sunrise, FL) – 120,000 in chips
Seat 8:  John White (Las Vegas, NV) – 200,000 in chips
Seat 9:  Taylor Nguyen (Houston, TX) – 547,000 in chips
Seat 10:   Raymond Lam (Vancouver, BC Canada) – 493,000 in chips


Final table play began at 5 pm.  Play ended at 11:30 pm – making the total duration about 6.5 hours.  The official order of finish was as follows:

Tenth Place:  The first player eliminated was John White, from Las Vegas, NV.  He is a 68-year-old retiree.  White came into the finale with one of the shortest stacks and only lasted about 20 minutes.

Ninth Place:  The ninth place finisher was Raymond Lam, from Vancouver, BC (Canada).   He is a public health inspector.  This was the first time Lam had ever entered a WSOP Circuit tournament.  His accomplishment was quite impressive, outlasting 491 fellow players.  This was his first recorded cash in a major poker tournament.

Eighth Place:  Vincent Maglio took eighth place.  He is a 22-year-old professional poker player from Revere, MA.  Maglio cashed in a previous WSOP Circuit tournament at the Palm Beach Kennel Club.

Seventh Place:  Mehmet Karsli hoped to become the first Turkish citizen to win a WSOP Circuit event.  He lasted for three hours before finally exiting in seventh place.  Karsli is a 48-year-old teacher from Istanbul.  He has now played in four WSOP Circuit tournaments.  This was his highest finish, to date.  Karsli made two final tables at the Middle East Poker Championships earlier this year, held in Northern Cyprus.

Sixth Place:  Craig Matthew Goddard was another international player who made it to the final table.  Goddard, a project manager from a small town in the Midlands, UK ended up in sixth place.  He exited after missing a heart draw and an overcard when two cards to his suit flopped.  Goddard has previously cashed in a few tournaments in England.  This was his first in-the-money finish on American soil. 

Fifth Place:  Paul Balzano took fourth place.  The native New Yorker now living in Florida is a 46-year-old poker pro.  Balzano made the biggest leap up the money ladder based on his starting chip count.  Balzano started play ranked dead last when play was ten-handed.  He ended up in the middle of the pack.  Balzano’s only previous other cash took place at the 2008 WSOP in Las Vegas.

Fourth Place:  Jeremiah DeGreef had the best comeback story of anyone in the tournament.  At the dinner break on Day One, DeGreff was down to just four big blinds.  Making it into the money, let alone the final table, seemed like an impossible dream.  But DeGreef patiently waited for a rush and was rewarded with many more hours in the tournament.  He finally went out in fourth place, receiving the emotional freeroll of $10,367 in cash.  DeGreef, from Sandy, UT formally served in the US Army.  He now has more than a quarter million in career tournament earnings.  Among his recent cashes was a fourth-place finish in the most recent Caesars Poker Classic Main Event.

Third Place:  Kenni Nguyen was the ultimate showman among the finalists.  Had there been a prize for most colorful player, he would have been the undisputed champion.  Nguyen talked incessantly throughout play, constantly teasing and chiding his opponents into making what he hoped would be a fatal mistake.  Instead, it was Nguyen who ended up going out as the third-place finisher.  Nguyen, Vietnamese-born poker player now living in Chicago collected $13,984.  Nguyen now has more than $350,000 in career tournament earnings.  Note:  Kennii Nguyen is sometimes mistakenly listed as “Kenny Nguyen.”

Second Place:  Joel Nimmo, from Pasco, WA finished in second place.  The district manager for Starbucks (coffee) was wired up and ready for victory, but fell just short of the finish line, losing a heartbreaking final hand to the eventual winner Taylor Nguyen.  Nimmo served as a pastor for 12 years before changing careers and making more time to spend with his family.  He is married and has two children.  Their ten-year wedding anniversary was highlighted by a trip to Las Vegas, during which Nimmo entered this tournament.  He (and his wife Melissa) are now $19,142 richer.   

Heads-up play did not last long.  The final hand was “Taylor made” for an all-in showdown.  Here’s how the last hand played out:

Nguyen –    
Nimmo –    
Flop –      
Turn –  
River –  

Nguyen flopped a monster, with three kings.  Nimmo flopped a spade flush draw.  Nguyen’s hand got even better on the turn when she made a full house – kings over deuces.  She allowed Nimmo to catch a free card on the river.  When he caught a third spade, good for a flush, all of Nimmo’s chips went into the pot and Nguyen scooped the final hand of the tournament.  Nimmo finished as runner up and Nguyen was declared the winner.

First Place:  Nhu “Taylor” Nguyen became the latest WSOP Circuit champion.  She earned her first major tournament victory and first WSOP Circuit gold ring with an impressive win at Caesars Palace.  First place paid $30,962. 

Nguyen joins the other three previous gold ring winners – including Giuseppe Biancoviso (Event 1), Randy Huberty (Event 2), and Randy Crowe (event 3) – who share a place atop of the leaderboard as early point leaders in the Best-All Around race for the Caesars Palace series.  The player who accumulates the most overall points in the ten gold ring tournaments receives a pre-paid entry into the $1 million 2010-2011 WSOP Circuit National Championship, to be held at Caesars Palace Las Vegas, next month.  At least two players from Caesars Palace will qualify for the WSOP gold bracelet event.

There are sis more gold ring events remaining.  The WSOP Circuit at Caesars Palace continues through April 30th.  This year’s schedule includes ten gold ring events, along with multiple second-chance tournaments, single table and mega satellites, plus cash games going around the clock inside the Caesars Poker Room.  A FULL SCHEDULE can be seen here.