Scotty Nguyen, Poker Biography
by Jennifer Newell
Scotty Nguyen was born Thuan Nguyen on October 28, 1962, in Nha Trang, Vietnam. He and his family left their home country when Scotty was 14 years old, and they traveled on a boat until most of them survived the arduous journey and arrived in America.
Nguyen began playing poker in high school, and his games were well known enough to get him expelled from school. At the age of 21, he took his skills at the tables to dealer school and was hired by Harrah's as a poker dealer. Though he lost most of his wages initially playing $3/$6 stud cash games, but he finally turned things around in 1985. He worked his bankroll up to $1 million and began playing in high stakes games with the likes of Johnny Chan and Puggy Pearson.
Though he invested some of the money, he ultimately went broke but rebuilt his bankroll and overcame several addictions in order to straighten out his life.
Nguyen's early tournament years consisted of success in small venues. He won events at series like the Gold Coast Open in 1992 and 1996, Winnin' o' the Green in 1995, Four Queens Poker Classic in 1995, and L.A. Poker Classic in 1997. But it wasn't until he won his first bracelet at the World Series of Poker that he climbed out of debt and began garnering more respect in tournament poker. He won that bracelet in the 1997 WSOP Omaha 8-or-Better event, along with $156,950.
In 1998, Nguyen did even better at the WSOP, though he required backing by Mike Matusow in order to play. But once he was in, he went on to win the $10,000 World Championship Main Event for $1 million, and it was there when he famously told second place finisher Kevin McBride, "You call, it's gonna be all over baby." And it was when Nguyen took the title. The memory isn't all happy for Nguyen, though, because one of his brothers was hit by a car and killed in Vietnam the next day.
Back on the felt, though, Nguyen was doing well. He won an event at the Jack Binion World Poker Open in 2000, along with ones at the Legends of Poker and Orleand Open, and final tabled a WSOP event that year. The next year, he accumulated more wins, most importantly two more WSOP bracelets, one in a $2,500 Pot-Limit Omaha event and another in a $5,000 Omaha Hi/Lo 8-or-Better event.
In 2002, he made another WSOP final table and made his first World Poker Tour final table at the Five Diamond World Poker Classic. He made another WPT final table in 2004 on the PartyPoker Million Cruise, but he did better than those sixth place finishes with a fifth place at the WPT Mirage Poker Showdown later that year. He finished fourth at the WPT Jack Binion World Poker Open in 2005, and he finally won a WPT title in 2006 at the Gold Strike World Poker Open.
One of the feathers in his career cap came in 2008 when he won the WSOP $50,000 HORSE tournament for nearly $2 million.
To date, Nguyen has won more than $11.4 million in live tournament earnings, and he has earned worldwide recognition for his talents, table antics, and even his stumbles. He even appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien in 2004, and has been one of the most recognized faces in poker for more than a decade.Read Scotty Nguyen's Profile for more information including his tournament results and total winnings.
Jennifer Newell is a freelance writer, originally from St. Louis but now living in Los Angeles. She fell in love with poker while working at WPT and began writing about it in 2005.