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When I Was a Donk: Scotty Nguyen

by Brian Pempus |  Published: Apr 18, 2012

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Scotty NguyenScotty Nguyen is one of the all-time great tournament players. With more than $11 million in career winnings, Nguyen is in the top 10 on the lifetime earnings list.
He has won an astounding 47 tournaments in his storied career, to go along with more than 200 other cashes. His largest score came in the 2008 World Series of Poker $50,000 H.O.R.S.E championship. He beat a stacked final table to take home just under $2 million.

The win gave him his fifth bracelet at the Series.

“The Prince of Poker” was born Thuan Nguyen in Vietnam in 1962. At 14, he boarded a ship and came to the United States. At the suggestion of an employer, Thuan decided to go by the name Scotty. Years later, in 1998, Scotty would take home $1 million at the WSOP main event.

Card Player caught up with Nguyen to talk briefly about the growing pains he experienced on the way to becoming one of the game’s most feared tournaments players. Here, he talks about the importance of laying down big hands – something Kevin McBride arguably didn’t do in 1998.

“I didn’t know how to lay down hands like jacks or queens, when I was raised and reraised. When I had one of those I just thought it was a big hand, and I called or moved all in. You have to learn that sometimes your hand is beat.

“Sometimes you even have to lay down the best hand before the flop. For example, if you have jacks or queens, and you know they have A-K, it’s just a coin flip. And sometimes the best you are hoping for is a coin flip.

“You can’t take chances baby, especially in the tournaments. If you lose in cash games you can take more money out of your pocket, but not in tournaments. If you lose those chips, you don’t have your chances to win anymore. Every chip you have is important and shouldn’t be jeopardized.

“You have to be careful to know where you’re at in certain situations. Another example would be how many people go broke with aces or kings to small pocket pairs. You have to be able to get away.

“You know baby, all I say is wait for the next hand.”