Thuận Scotty Nguyen is a well-known, lucky, adept, and oftentimes contentious 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. Additionally, 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:
Scotty Nguyen early life
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 21, Nguyen completed dealer school. Aside from dealing in games around Vegas, Nguyen also spent considerable time playing, and he would inevitably gamble his income away. In his own words, at least early on, Nguyen described himself as a “fish.”
Eventually Nguyen improved his game, and in just a few short years he managed to amass a cool $1 million bankroll. However, substance abuse problems plagued Nguyen as he hit the proverbial rock bottom, necessitating his having 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 entered several events in the 2018 WSOP. His best finish was third in the $25,000 Pot Limit Omaha High Roller event where he pocketed an impressive $592,875.
To date, Nguyen boasts five WSOP bracelets and 46 money finishers, as well as the aforementioned WPT championship and seven additional WPT final tables. His total live earnings to date total nearly $12.6 million, and he currently sits in 42nd place on the All Time Money List. Quite 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 of his persona.
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, Scotty Nguyen is outgoing and friendly. However, he is also lucky, a great bluffer, and—oh yeah—an excellent player. Here are six 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’s situation worsens when Nguyen slow-plays his top set. Nice to see everyone got a good laugh, though, baby.
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 pulls a classic suck out.
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 is Nguyen besting McBride to win the 1998 WSOP Main Event. It’s almost like watching a scene from a movie. A really old movie. With terrible film. But a great clip anyway.
Do you have a favorite Scotty Nguyen moment or quote? Drop it in the comments below, baby!
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Natalie Faulk is a Las Vegas-based freelance writer/blogger and the author of several books. She is an avid low-stakes (for now) poker player and huge Vegas Golden Knights fan.