Poker Coverage: Poker Tournaments Casino News Sports Betting Poker Strategy

Deal Me In -- Poker Pro Chau Giang

An Exclusive Excerpt from Phil Hellmuth's New Book


Chau GiangIn its pages are never-before-revealed details of the lives of some of the biggest names in poker. Phil Hellmuth’s new book profiles 20 of the biggest poker players in the world, giving the reader an intimate look at the game’s biggest celebrities.

Deal Me In, a collection of autobiographical accounts from many of poker’s elite, is now available to order online exclusively at The book highlights the struggles, obstacles, and tragedies that 20 of the greatest poker pros have overcome in their journeys to the top. is providing exclusive excerpts from the book each Sunday. This week’s passage focuses on Chau Giang, who describes his tumultuous attempts as a younger man to flee his native Vietnam for the hope of a better life in the United States:

“The war had been over for two years. The communists had attained their goal, defeating the Saigon regime. As I prepared to get into the boat headed for America in 1977, I glanced back at my homeland, Vietnam, believing it to be for the last time. It had taken me a long time to save up the seven ounces of gold for currency to pay for my passage on the boat, but I was now getting ready for the journey, under the cover of darkness. (You were not allowed to leave Vietnam without permission, and permission was never granted, at least not to the United States.)

Chau Giang"A friend in America had told me of the freedoms and privileges that were afforded to people there. I wanted this for myself, even if it meant making the trip alone, with almost no money. I believed if I worked hard, I could live the American dream myself. But just about the time I thought I was home free, I saw the North Vietnamese authorities arrive. There would be no trip to the United States that day. And for the crime of trying to leave my country illegally, I would spend my next five months in a Vietnamese prison. The gold was gone, too, and I knew that when I got out of jail, I’d have to start all over…

“The jail time did nothing to damper my spirit. I was still determined to make it to the west. When I was released from jail I went right back to work, saving everything to earn enough for the trip. Eventually, I earned another seven ounces of gold, and this time I got out of Vietnam, though my journey to the United States was far from easy and far from over.

“The boat did not travel directly to America. Our first stop was to be Thailand, several days away, but our boat met with misfortune before our arrival. We were boarded and robbed five times by people whom Americans would call pirates, although these raiders had guns instead of eye patches and swords. Not enough that we were robbed of all our money, our boat was robbed of all its food and water. I don’t remember how long that voyage took, but it seemed as if we were sailing many days without food or water—a miserable experience.

“When we reached Thailand, my fortunes would not greatly improve. I had no money and no assets of any kind. I also had no family or friends in Thailand and, more important, no sponsor in the United States. Accordingly, I was placed in a refugee camp, where I stayed for four months while the authorities sought a sponsor for me.

“Eventually, I did find someone who was willing to sponsor me in America.”