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Scotty Nguyen Talks About Colluding In Cash Games, Why He Thinks Many Young Poker Players Disrespect The Game

'Prince Of Poker' Says A Lot Cash Games Full Of Bankroll Sharing, Cheating


Five-time bracelet winner Scotty Nguyen needs little introduction—baby.

Though he plays little poker these days, the 51-year-old is still a threat at the tables inside the Rio Convention Center. So far at the 2014 WSOP, Nguyen has accumulated two cashes, which brought his lifetime total to 45. On Saturday, Nguyen was making a deep run in a $5,000 pot-limit Omaha event. A sixth career bracelet was on his mind as the field kept shrinking.

Card Player had the chance to speak with the 1998 main event champion about how he’s feeling this summer, why he now spends the majority of his time away from poker, as well as why his love for the game persists after more than two decades in action.

Brian Pempus: How is your Series going so far?

Scotty Nguyen: Good, good. You know, when you don’t play much, you don’t get burnt out. Every time you play, you enjoy it. That’s what I have been doing. This is my sixth event of the summer.

BP: Does this help you stay focused?

SN: You know, baby, they have so many events. The bottom line is the main event. You want to come to that event and make sure you are ready—love the game and aren’t burnt out and talking about bad beats all the time. You always hear poker players talking about it. I don’t talk about it. I just go home. I don’t hang around. I go spend time with my wife and my kid. If I want to say something, I say something with them. Or my close friend, James, baby.

BP: How does it feel to be here after so many years? There are a lot of new faces every year. How do you feel about the new wave of players every year? Do you feel as time goes on you recognize fewer and fewer people here?

SN: It’s just like school. You never stop learning. You know, poker is just like that. I have learned from all the great players like Johnny Chan, Doyle Brunson—Stu Ungar is my idol. You know, now, some young players make some move and then you go like, ‘Wow, how did they make that kind of move?’ I learn from the young players. Don’t get mad at them. You want to continue to try to do this kind of job, you can’t hate anybody. You have to love the game and don’t hate anyone. That’s how you make it, baby. If you hate the game and hate the players, you aren’t going to make it [in poker].

BP: Do you feel like the older guys around here have an edge in terms of experience?

SN: I don’t know about them, but Scotty still has it, baby (laughs).

BP: Do you feel like when you are deep in an event, that’s really when you have an advantage because you have been there so many times?

SN: Yes, that helps a lot too. You know how to maintain your chip stack. I laid down so many pretty hands today, but pretty doesn’t pay the bills, baby. When you win a pot that pays the bills…let the chips come to you. So, just play one hand at a time. You don’t have to win hand after hand. You need to win one hand an hour, especially in pot-limit and no-limit. One is all I need. They need five or six (laughs).

BP: These days, what’s more important to you—the glory of winning or the prize money?

SN: Both, baby. You know, glory, money, every event is unbelievable. The prize is unbelievable. The bracelet, fame, I want to show people that I still have it.

BP: I know Mike Matusow got into some trouble recently for some of his behavior at a table. What do you think about that? Do you think it’s OK for the WSOP to give you a penalty for certain outbursts?

SN: You know, baby, right now every event is from like 500 people and up. If everyone does the same thing as Mike, it doesn’t do any good for poker. But, you know, for Mike, that’s his style. You got to learn to accept it. I accept whatever character is at the table. Some are loud, some are quiet, some like to yell and cuss—you got to learn to accept them. It doesn’t bother me anymore. But now if every hand someone stands up when they put a beat on you, and slam the table and are like, ‘Yeah!’—that’s disrespect right there. You can be happy on the inside, but you don’t need to slam the table and jump up and down. You should play the game with class.

BP: Do you think the etiquette at the table has gotten worse over time?

SN: Yes, there is a lot more disrespect these days than in the old days. In the old days you respect the [older players], you respect good players. Before I played I looked up to a lot of players. To this day, I still always respect them. These days, the young kids don’t dress right, they don’t talk right—the way they eat at the table, it’s just like ghetto. You would never catch me eat at the table. Eat before you play, or wait until the break. You don’t have to be all over at the table and touch your cards at the same time.

BP: These days, when you aren’t playing the WSOP, what are you up to?

SN: You know, most of the time I hang around with my family or travel around with my best friend James and his girl Lilly. They are good people. I just hang out with them and take vacations. Other than that, I don’t play much poker really.

BP: You don’t play cash games at all?

SN: Very little. I know everybody and I hear so many stories about cash game players. They play with the same money—the same bankroll. It has just turned me off. It’s not like the old days where you come out, you put your hours in, you try to make a few dollars and take care of your family. They just don’t do things like the way they are supposed to be done. I play sometimes, but only when I know absolutely there is no same bankroll in there…but honestly baby, I try not to think about it. When you don’t think about it, because you know what you have…if I have aces, I don’t care if you set me up or sandwich me in between. Go for it baby. I really don’t care, but those places should never allow people like that. Cheaters should not be allowed to come around. In every game, you will find something. I won’t say names, but almost every game. You always have people like that around, because we have so many poker players these days. They work together, they stay together and they travel together. You have to look out for yourself, because you can’t stop something like that when you have no proof.