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Winner's Circle -- Scotty Nguyen

Nguyen Talks About What it Takes to Win H.O.R.S.E. Events

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Scotty NguyenThe Winner’s Circle takes a look at the biggest wins from the tournament trail by the players that made it happen. This series will look at the big hands, toughest opponents, and paths to victory each player took in their most recent tournament win through their own eyes and words. If you ever wanted to know what it takes to win a major poker tournament, this is a good place to start.

This week, Scotty Nguyen talks about his victory at the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. event at the L.A. Poker Classic. Nguyen defeated a field of 96 strong players to take home his second major H.O.R.S.E. title (along with his win at the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. world championship at the 2008 World Series of Poker).

Ryan Lucchesi: What did it take to win your second major H.O.R.S.E. title?

Scotty Nguyen:
When you choose to do something professionally, you want to do something people can’t do. You want to set the record so people can chase you. That’s why when I play I like to break people’s records or set records myself, which was to win back-to-back H.O.R.S.E. events. Maybe 10 years from now nobody can break this record; only I can beat myself. Triplets, baby, coming up; triplets coming up.

RL:
Do the H.O.R.S.E. titles mean more because you’re consistently beating the best players in the world to win these titles?

SN: The H.O.R.S.E. event has proved to poker player’s who the best player out there is, because you play all games, especially because it’s limit. [In limit] you can have one or two bad beats, maybe three or four, and you can still use your skill to come back. In no-limit, baby, if somebody puts you all in with aces and they have queens, if they flop a queen, there’s nothing you can do. In limit, baby, if they flop a queen, I still have chips, but the only way you can come back is to have the best skill. A good player can make a comeback. In no-limit, everybody can win, all they have to do is close their eyes and shove it in and hopefully get lucky. People love to play no-limit because it is fast and it is a rush. But the H.O.R.S.E. win is an unbelievable feeling, especially when I know I’m the only man who has done something like that.

RL: What is your best game of the five featured in H.O.R.S.E.?

SN: Omaha high-low, baby. I’m so dangerous [laughs]. When I’m short-stacked and I can’t win at the other games, I just take my time and I count my chips and I make sure I have enough money for the Omaha high-low round. The Omaha high-low is when I make my chips grow; I think it’s my best game. But I like them all; you have to be good at all of them to win.

RL:
You were short-stacked coming into this final table. How did you build up from a short-stack to the overpowering chip lead you held at the end of the tournament?

SN:
I told you, baby — skill. People panic when they have no more chips; that’s when Scotty Nguyen’s style is most dangerous. All the players know when I get short-stacked, that’s when I’m in my comfort zone, I don’t count on luck, I count on my skill to bring me home. I’m so dangerous short-stacked, baby. The last three days, I never passed the 200,000 mark, the lowest I got down to was 39,000, and I never looked back when I started to come back. When I passed the 200,000 mark, I knew that no one was going to stop me.

RL: As your chip stack grew you became more vocal at the final table, as well. How much is table talk a part of your strategy at the poker table?

SN:
That’s a part of my game, too, the smooth-talking, getting people to lay down their hands or call me when I want them to call me. I make it fun for people to watch me; I want people to say, “Hey, Scotty Nguyen’s at the final table.” When I’m at the final table, believe me, they have the TV on that channel, they don’t switch. People walk up to me and say, “Every time the final table is on TV and you’re not in there, we just switch the channel, but when you’re on there, we leave it on.” Poker is so boring sometimes, people sit and wait for the nuts and they don’t talk, they’re so serious. I mean, for big money it’s OK to be serious, but mix it up. If you don’t love what you do, go home. Enjoy it; enjoy being at the final table and being in the spotlight.