We all know Scotty Nguyen is an extraordinary poker player. What some people might not know though, is just how extraordinary a person he is. If you’re a poker fan, I’m quite sure you’ve already heard numerous rags to riches stories, one more impressive then the other. Well, toss all that out the window baby, cause ain’t nothing going to beat this guy’s story.
Born in 1962 in Nha Trang, Vietnam, Thuan Nguyen’s early years were extremely adventurous, to say the least. He says that when aged 14, he once spent 23 years drifting aimlessly aboard a boat, he and 16 other desperate refugees were going to get to Thailand on. As they had been chased by the Vietnamese police they lost their direction, and the fuel that they had taken with them ran out, so they found themselves at the mercy of the sea and the elements. Pirates threw them food for which they had to swim in shark-infested waters. The ordeal lasted for 23 straight days, and just as they were getting ready to eat Scotty’s younger brother, they were rescued by a Thai patrol boat. The story goes that they were kept in quarantine for 6 months on an island, where other boats like theirs were continuously arriving. One of these boats had only 90 passengers left out of the 139 who set sail, as the rest had supposedly been eaten.
He arrived to the US at the age of 14, with no English knowledge and little else to aid him in life. He was never among the students that his professors would’ve called disciplined, but interestingly, he proved that he could indeed exert a lot of self control at the poker table.
To wrap the rags to riches story up in an appropriate fashion: nowadays he is one of the best known and respected, not to mention richest professional poker players in the world.
Scotty Nguyen has won first prize or finished in the money in more events than probably any other poker player in history.
Between 2000 and 2004, he has finished ITM more than 100 times. He is usually known as an easy-going, relaxed character. According to his own words, he’s been "there” so many times that he no longer feels nervous about anything. He says "baby” or "yeah baby” all the time while playing and during interviews too. He is the one who came up with the phrase: "That’s poker baby”.
During the 1998 WSOP Main Event, he went up against Kevin McBride in the final hand as the board showed a full house (8-8-8-9-9). "You call gonna be all over baby” said Scotty and so it happened. McBride called because he just couldn’t figure how Scotty would make a better hand than the one already on the board. Scotty however, had an ace up his sleeve (or rather a 9) and made a better full house than McBride’s.
Despite the resounding success though, Scotty would never get around to wearing his bracelet. One of his younger brothers died in an accident the following day back in Vietnam, and that prompted him never to wear it.
He has after all, three other WSOP bracelets to flaunt, one won in 1997 (Omaha 8 or better) and two in 2001 (PL Omaha and Omaha Hi Lo). He finished in the money 34 times in the WSOP.
After reaching several final tables (he now has 8 in total) Scotty finally managed a WPT title in 2006. He finished in the money 12 times in WPT events.
Even though back in the days he used to be a cash player as well as a tournament one, he has recently given up on cash games. He said he was too friendly a player and that he didn’t like to adopt the attitude needed to be successful in cash games.
His latest accomplishment is a second place finish to Eli Elezra in the 7 Card Stud Hi Lo event of the 2007 WSOP.
His all time live tournament winnings exceed 7.5 million dollars.