Poker legend Scotty Nguyen finished 2009 on a high when he reached the final table in the WPT Doyle Brunson Classic in Las Vegas cashing $250,000 just before Christmas.
- It was nice to end the year with a good run. My big goal for 2010 will be to win an EPT tournament, the only title I don’t have, says Scotty, poker ambassador for Expekt.com.
Scotty Nguyen has won almost everything you can wish for as a poker player in his long and illustrious career. Scotty Nguyen became World Champion back in 1998 when he won the WSOP Main Event. He is currently the only player in the world who has won both the WSOP Main Event and the $50 000 WSOP H.O.R.S.E event. He won the massive H.O.R.S.E title in 2008, a title by many viewed to prove whom is the best all round player on the planet with the huge buy-in and challenging structure. All together he has cashed $11 million in tournament winnings.
- Whatever you win as a poker player, the Main Event in WSOP is the biggest title you can win. It does not compare to anything and it is a title that all poker players aim for, to be the world champion.
Can you win it again?
- Of course I can. I came close in 2007 when I was chip leader with 13 players of 6 000 left. It still hunts me that I didn’t win it for a second time, but it also drives me on to reach that dream again.
Scotty swooped the World Series of Poker in 2007, boasting six tournament cashes, two final tables, and that near repeat performance of his 1998 Main Event victory.
We called up the poker legend in his beloved Las Vegas and had a chat about life and poker looking back, and ahead to 2010.
Will you always live in Las Vegas, Scotty?
- Does the pope have a funny hat, baby? It was Las Vegas who made me who I am. It shaped my life when I came from Asia and it is a city to cherish and respect for me and my family. I will always love and live in Las Vegas.
Your family and wife Julie means a lot to you?
- Julie is my rock in life. She is my biggest support and biggest love. I am blessed in that way, baby. I think 80 percent of all top poker players is divorced. The reason might be that too many just have poker on their mind. No wonder that the wife gets sick of listening to bad beats and good beats night and day.
- I don’t even have a deck of cards in my house! When I come home from work I am only two things; a husband and a father. I relax when I have my family around me and I play with the kids, cook food, chill out and take care of my garden with all the flowers.
Still, will your kids be poker players you reckon?
- No. I want them to study and play sports. I really try to steer my kids into sports, basketball for example. I love sports myself, basketball, boxing, soccer. At home I watch a lot of sports and nature and animal programs, but never the poker channels. What would you have done if you hadn’t been a poker player?
- I am poker through and through and will play until my last day or at least as long as my hands work. But if not, I would have come up with some way to make money and support my family. I learned that in Vietnam, starting to play poker in the streets as a seven-year old. My mum never had to buy me anything; I bought my own clothes, food and books for school.
- I also did a lot of trading in the military camps. I bought sweets and cigarettes for 50 cents and sold it for 1 dollar. I have always been like that, finding a way to do money. – Then, later on, when my mum come to Las Vegas for the first time and a stranger stopped us at the street and asked for my autograph, she started to cry. She was proud. She knew her little son had made it.
You were in Europe a lot last year with Expekt.com. What did you think about that?
- I loved Europe, especially Budapest. It was a great city and I hope to come back there. I never seen my wife Julie photograph so much as she did there. She had the camera in her hand all the time. I also liked the clean air in Stockholm and the buzz in Barcelona. But you struggled in the tournaments?
- I am not at all pleased with my results from WSOP and onward, until my fifth place in Doyle Brunson Classic in Bellagio before Christmas. At WSOP everyone was talking about my goal to win $4 million and it affected my play and concentration.
- In Bellagio, I was back on track. I was short-stacked with 15 players left but wasn’t that worried. Daniel Negreanu always says that he never worries about me when I am short-stacked because I am at my best then. Some say I am the best short-stacked player on the planet and I think I showed that in Bellagio. The other players fear me when I am short-stacked, baby.
Going back to Europe, what do you think about the players here?
- I admire the attitude among the top European players. In US, so many players just think about surviving until the next day. European players come out to play and they attack. I see a younger me in some of the younger European players I met. They fear nobody and really have attitude. Some of them even intimidate me.
What are your big goals as an Expekt.com player in 2010?
- WSOP will be better this year for sure. But my big goal is to claim an EPT title. It is the only title I lack in my career. I will do also my best to learn the players more about poker in my columns at expekt.com and the fans can also follow me on Twitter and my Facebook fan page. Together with Expekt.com I will as well do a very special promotion in 2010 during the spring, but I will get back to that. Sounds interesting, baby.
We can look ahead to a new and exciting poker year. With Scotty Nguyen onboard planet poker, you feel that anything can happen.