Monday, June 30, 2008

Scotty Nguyen - King of Poker

The five-day H.O.R.S.E. championship did not disappoint. As evidenced by the list below, the tournament lived up to all expectations, with more than 40 World Series bracelets represented in the final sixteen. You had red-hot Erick Lindgren and Daniel Negreanu, you had former Main Event winner Huck Seed, you had Phil Ivey and Barry Greenstein, who would probably be the consensus choices for best all-around player at this moment, and you had 74-year old Doyle Brunson, who is only the most famous poker player of all time. Not bad.

And you had the champion, Scotty Nguyen. Nguyen is one of the greatest stories that you will find among today's poker greats. A native of Vietnam, Nguyen came to the United States at 14, and ended up being expelled from school for spending too much time around poker rooms. But as he was dealing those games, he picked up the goods - and soon realized that, as dealer, he knew more about poker than just anyone in the room. It was time to start playing. His extended family still lives in Vietnam, and Nguyen sends a good portion of his winnings to them.

Nguyen's table demeanor is one of all-out aggression, featuring a frequently hilarious stream of non-stop patter. Every sentence is punctuated by "baby" (as in "you gonna call, baby? you do, you gonna lose, baby"), but always with a smile on his face (and a beer in his hand, which is definitely one of those "don't do this [drink and gamble] at home" kind of things). In short, Nguyen is almost impossible not to like, much closer in style to Mike Matusow than he is to Phil Hellmuth, who is openly disdainful of his opponents at the table, and who thinks he is robbed from every title he doesn't win.

This is Nguyen's fifth bracelet, and his first since 2001. And even though Nguyen won the Main Event in 1998, I suspect that the Chip Reese Trophy he received for winning this tournament will become his most prized possession.

Final Standings: Top Sixteen

Scotty Nguyen $1,989,120
Mike DeMichele $1,243,200
Erick Lindgren $781,440
Matt Glantz $568,320
Lyle Berman $444,000
Barry Greenstein $355,200
Huck Seed $284,160
Patrick Bueno $230,880
Ralph Perry $177,600
Raymond Davis $177,600
David Bach $159,840
Phil Ivey $159,840
Daniel Negreanu $142,080
Joey Michael $142,080
Andrew Bloch $124,320
Doyle Brunson $124,320

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