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When I Was A Donk With Chau Giang

by Brian Pempus |  Published: Dec 10, 2014

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Chau GiangIn this series, Card Player asks top pros to rewind back to their humble beginnings and provide insights regarding the mistakes, leaks, and deficiencies that they had to overcome in order to improve their games.

Chau Giang is one of the all-time great cash game grinders and consistent regulars on the tournament scene.

He moved to the United States from Vietnam in the late 1970s. In Colorado Springs, Colorado, he took a job as a chef, but made little money. He began playing poker to supplement his income, but soon found himself in Las Vegas with $100,000 in profits after his first year as a professional.

His first World Series of Poker success came in 1993 when he finished second in a pot-limit event and won the $1,500 ace-to-five draw tournament. Five years later, he won his second bracelet in an Omaha eight-or-better event.

Giang then took some time off from playing tournaments in order to focus on cash games. He began playing in the “big game” in Las Vegas, which often featured $4,000-$8,000 limit. After his children asked him why he wasn’t on television like all of his peers, he returned to playing the big buy-in tournaments.

Giang won his third WSOP title during 2004 and also finished ninth in the World Poker Tour Mirage Poker Showdown the same year. To date, his biggest cash was a second place-finish in the 2005 World Poker Open for nearly $773,000.

Card Player caught up with Giang to talk about the growing pains he experienced on the way to becoming one of the game’s most feared cash game players:

“When I first came to this country, I started playing $1-$5 mixed games. I couldn’t win.
It was different than the type of poker I was used to in Vietnam. I played so many hands, and, of course, I was losing every day. I loved to play any two random cards and didn’t win for six months straight.

I went home and thought about what was happening. I talked to a friend of mine, and he told me that you are supposed to only play your solid cards. He gave me some advice. From then on I started to learn how to sit back and play tighter.

If you play too many hands, in the long-run you will never win at poker. After six months, I became a winning player and quit my job. I played for a living after that and haven’t looked back for almost 30 years. I kept going higher and higher, and eventually started playing in the biggest game in the world.

Poker is a game of skill, and the longer you play solid hands the more you will come out on top.” ♠