Scotty Nguyen is a Vietnamese-American poker player. He is appropriately nicknamed, ‘The Prince of Poker’ due to his extravagant dress sense and larger than life personality. Although sometimes controversial, Nguyen is one of the most diverse, unique, and successful poker players in WSOP history.
Nguyen was born in Nha Trang, Vietnam, in 1962 and had an unsettled childhood. He lived in Vietnam until the mid-1970s but was sent to America by his mother to seek asylum as the conflict grew during the Vietnam War. Nguyen spent the remainder of his childhood in California and changed his name from Thuan to ‘Scotty’ after an employer advised him that ‘Scotty’ was easier to pronounce. It was a personality change that would later define Nguyen’s character as a high-profile poker star.
Despite his uncertain childhood, Nguyen always wanted to succeed in poker. His love of card games was a constant in his early years and he regularly played with his mother whilst growing up in Nha Trang. Nguyen’s obsession with card games and gambling continued in America, but it became a negative influence during his teen years. He regularly cut class so he could gamble in underground card games, which eventually led to his expulsion from high-school when he was 14.
Nguyen’s expulsion from school was not a setback though and, a few years later, he dropped out of school entirely, traveled to Las Vegas, and started to train as a card dealer at Harrah’s Casino. Nguyen graduated as a professional dealer when he was 21, but this was not a career path he wanted to pursue long-term.
In between shifts dealing cards, Nguyen spent many hours playing poker in Vegas. He worked tirelessly to refine his skills, networked with other players, and became familiar with the different versions of poker gameplay. It was this willingness to learn everything possible about poker that played a big part in Nguyen’s success when became a professional in 1985.
Major Tournament Wins
Scotty Nguyen has an excellent record in World Series of Poker events and has won five gold bracelets. Nguyen has cashed at 62 WSOP events and made the final table 24 times since 1995. The Prince of Poker won his first gold bracelet in 1997, placing first in the Omaha 8 or Better tournament and easily seeing off runner-up Mike Matusow on the final day.
A year later, Nguyen reached the final day of the WSOP No Limit Hold’em Main Event. In the dying moments of the final game, Nguyen produced one of the most sensational moments of his career as Kevin McBride was set to call. McBride was calculating his next move and Nguyen, in his typical unconventional style, influenced McBride’s decision by shouting, “You call, it’s gonna be all over, baby!”. McBride called, lost the hand and Nguyen went on the win his second gold bracelet using the type of confrontational tactics he developed playing underground poker in his teens.
Nguyen’s WSOP success didn’t end here and two more bracelets came in 2001 when he won the Limit Omaha and Omaha Hi-Lo Split Eight or Better events in Las Vegas.
Nguyen then finished first in the 2008 H.O.R.S.E event to earn his fifth bracelet and received over $1.9 million in prize money – his largest cash to date. This win cemented Nguyen’s place in history as the only poker player ever to win the WSOP main event (1998) and the H.O.R.S.E event (2008).
World Poker Tour events have also been lucrative for Nguyen. His biggest WTP win came in 2006 when he cashed almost $1 million by placing first in the No Limit Hold’em Gold Strike World Poker Open. During his career, Nguyen has reached 10 final tables and cashed 19 times in WPT events, but has not entered a WPT event since 2017.
Total Poker Winnings
Since 1985, Scotty Nguyen has won $12,626,067 from live events according to the poker database, the Hendon Mob. Nguyen’s highest ranking in the poker All-Time Money List is fifth and he is currently fourth on the Nevada All-Time Money list.
The eccentric American has cashed in over 300 live events during his 35-year career. Today, Nguyen continues to take part in diverse poker tournaments across the globe despite being 57-years-old.