Poker Coverage:

2010 World Series of Poker November Nine Profile -- Soi Nguyen

Lone Amateur at the Table Sits in Eighth Place


Soi NguyenThe chances are good that the streak of a relative unknown winning the World Series of Poker main event will continue, with seven of the nine players remaining (with Michael Mizrachi and John Racener the notable exceptions) flying in under the radar.

But if you’re hoping another amateur takes the title, there’s only one man left who can make that happen — Soi Nguyen.

The Californian is the final amateur remaining in the 2010 main event, and the only one to make the final table. Although most of the players in this year’s November Nine may not be household names, only Nguyen supports himself with a job other than poker.

The 37-year-old runs a medical supply company’s in-take and authorization department, and admits he doesn’t play cards too often.

“My background in poker is very limited. I’ve gone to play poker maybe five or six times in the last three years. That’s how little experience I have in this game,” said Nguyen. “I have only played in a couple tournaments before.”

Despite his inexperience, Nguyen navigated though the massive field at the Rio this year to make the November Nine. This was his first time playing the main event.

Nguyen admits that in a lot of ways, he is just the typical casual player who first became enamored with the main event after watching Chris Moneymaker win it on TV.

Soi Nguyen“I’ve always wanted to play in the main event. Ever since I saw Chris Moneymaker play in the main event, I said, ‘I’m going to give it a shot one day,’” said Nguyen. “I talked to my boss and told him I was going to take some time off and try it, just so I could look back and say, ‘at least I played in it once.’”

Well, that ‘one time’ turned out to be pretty memorable. Nguyen enters the final table eighth in chips and still harboring the dream of taking down the ‘big one.’ While he acknowledges his lack of experience he still believes he can get it done.

“I think that everyone sitting at the final table has a chance to win this thing,” said Nguyen, who said his game plan is to just stick with what got him here. “I’m going to continue to do whatever my gut tells me to do. It’s gotten me this far, and I’m not going to turn my back on it.”

Although Nguyen has the least experience of anyone else remaining, he does run in some pretty knowledgeable poker circles. He played the game as a kid, growing up with friends and poker pros Nam and Tommy Le. Nguyen also had a couple other established pros — Tuan Le and Chino Rheem — cheering him on as the final few tables broke at the Rio this summer.

Nguyen is this year’s reminder that anyone, if he plays his cards right and gets lucky down the stretch, can make the final table of the main event.

“This whole thing has just been unbelievable,” said Nguyen. “I’ve always thought that I was good enough to someday play in the main event, and now [I can say I am] good enough to make it to the final nine.”