Thuận “Scotty” Nguyen is a well-known Vietnamese American poker pro who currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nicknamed the “Prince of Poker,” the 55-year-old Nguyen has earned an impressive five WSOP bracelets, and he is the only player to have won both the Main Event and $50,000 Player’s Championship.
In this article we’ll take a look at:
Nguyen was born in Nha Trang during the Vietnam War, and is the eldest of thirteen children. At just fourteen years old, Nguyen’s mother sent him to Taiwan and then to Los Angeles, California. While in school, Nguyen was expelled for neglecting his studies. He was too busy spending time playing in underground poker games.
At nineteen, Nguyen moved to Las Vegas and worked as a bus boy at the Holiday Inn (now Harrah’s), where his boss took to calling him “Scotty” because his real name was too difficult to pronounce. When he turned twenty-one, Nguyen completed school to be dealer. But aside from dealing in games around Vegas, Nguyen also spent time playing, and he would inevitably gamble his income away. At least early on, Nguyen was quite clearly a “fish,” as he puts it.
Eventually Nguyen improved his game, and in just a few years he managed to amass a cool $1 million bankroll by playing in local games. However, substance abuse problems dragged Nguyen to the proverbial rock bottom, and he would have to start over.
Nguyen’s Career highlights
In 1997, Nguyen won the $2,000 WSOP Omaha 8 or Better, but he lost those winnings, too. For the 1998 WSOP Main Event, Mike Matusow bankrolled Nguyen for a small satellite after having seen Nguyen’s potential.
Nguyen went on to win the 1998 Main Event, and he gave Matusow one-third of his $1 million prize. Sadly, Nguyen’s brother was involved in a car accident the next day. In memoriam of his brother, Nguyen doesn’t wear his 1998 Main Event bracelet.
In 2006, Nguyen won his first WPT event in the fourth season Gold Strike tournament.
In the 2007 WSOP Seven Card Stud High/Low Split 8 or Better event, Nguyen finished second to Eli Elezra. He also finished 11th in the Main Event that year, earning nearly $480,000.
In 2008, Nguyen stood accused of questionable and rude behavior–for which he’s apologized–during the $50,000 WSOP H.O.R.S.E. event, which he went on to win.
Most recently, Nguyen has played in the 2017 WSOP where he finished fifth in the $3,000 H.O.R.S.E. Event, 271st in the $1,500 No-Limit Monster Stack Event, and 549th in the $10,000 Main Event. He also made a decent showing in the WPT Main Event in Los Angeles, finishing 81st. His total prize winnings for these four events is around $40,000. Not too shabby, baby!
To date, Nguyen boasts five WSOP bracelets and 46 money finishers, as well as the aforementioned WPT championship and seven additional final tables. His total live earnings to date total nearly $12 million. Very impressive.
That’s poker baby!
Nguyen is known for being an outgoing and friendly player. But he’s probably best known for his frequent use of the word “baby”–a quirk that has become a defining feature his persona. For instance, check out the Scotty Nguyen Instagram account at @scottynguyenbaby, or his Twitter account @TheScottyNguyen. Seemingly every tweet uses word “baby” in it somewhere.
Nguyen even has an e-book is entitled That’s Poker Baby! Volume 1 (2012). In the book Nguyen details his playing strategy, a list of do’s and don’ts, and he discusses the mentality needed to evolve from merely a poker player to a champion poker player.
6 hands that define Scotty Nguyen
As mentioned, Nguyen is outgoing and friendly. However, he is also lucky, a great bluffer, and–oh yeah–an excellent player. Here are some of Nguyen’s best hands.
(Note that some of these clips are relatively old and rare, so please bear with the sub-par video quality.)
6. “That’s no limit, baby” versus Humberto Brenes at WPT Costa Rica
In this old clip from the WPT in Costa Rica, Nguyen may or may not be inebriated when he makes a world-class bluff.
5. “Set over set” versus Phil Ivey at Heads-Up Championshio
Don’t you hate when this happens? This hand from the 2010 National Heads Up Poker Championship proves that you need a certain amount of luck in this game. Ivey isn’t helped when Nguyen slow-plays top set. Nice to see everyone got a good laugh, though.
4. “My favorite hand, baby” versus Phil Ivey, also at the Heads-Up Championship
In Ivey’s final hand of the National Heads Up Poker Championship, Nguyen bests Ivey’s pocket kings on the river. Ouch!
3. “Imitation’s the best form of flattery” versus Daniel Negreanu at the 2009 Heads-Up Championship
In this 2009 National Heads Up Championship, Kid Poker does his best Scotty impression, complete with costume and wig. Nguyen’s laid-back and ultra-friendly personality is on display, too, even when he’s eliminated.
2. “I wait for him to come in” versus Ondrej Smejkel at the WSOP
Nguyen traps Smejkel after flopping quads in this WSOP clip. But, of course, he does it with a smile.
1. “You call, it’s gonna be all over, baby” versus Kevin McBride at the 1998 WSOP Main Event
Last but far from least, here’s Nguyen besting McBride to win the 1998 WSOP Main Event. It’s like watching a scene from a movie.
Do you have a favorite Scotty Nguyen moment or quote?
Drop it in the comments below, baby!
Natalie Faulk is a Las Vegas-based freelance writer and blogger and the author of several books. She is an avid low-stakes (for now) poker player and huge Vegas Golden Knights fan.