Poker has been a treasured card game since its origins in the 19th century. Its enduring popularity lies in the fact that it requires more skill than luck, creating an exciting experience that rewards highly talented players. This tricky combination of chance and strategy has given poker an impressively long-running competitive scene. Over the years, the top players have continued to push each other to improve their game, opening the path to more complex and sophisticated poker strategies, making this classic game an ever-evolving challenge of wits. Inevitably, many great players have risen above the rest, etching their names into the game’s history. In this article, we’ll talk about one of these prominent stars, “The Prince of Poker” himself, Scotty Nguyen. 

Player Overview

Scotty Nguyen is a Vietnamese-American professional poker player. He has five World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets and is the winner of the 1998 WSOP Main Event.

Notably, he is the only person in history to win both the World Series of Poker Main Event and a WSOP HORSE World Championship. The latter tournament has a buy-in five times greater than the main event and boasts a more complex poker variant, which discourages amateurs from competing. Among the poker elite, it is widely considered one of the most prestigious WSOP events, even more so than the Main Event itself. Nguyen earned the title “The Prince of Poker” for his elaborate jewelry at the 2001 WSOP.

Apart from the WSOP, Nguyen has one World Poker Tour title and eight final table finishes. His total tournament winnings exceed 12.7 million dollars, about half of which come from WSOP cashes.

Early Life

Thuận Nguyen was born in Nha Trang, Vietnam on October 28, 1962. While Scotty was young, his parents left Vietnam and moved to Taiwan. Later, at 14, he moved to the United States to live with a host family. He found he had a penchant for cards, often skipping school to play in various poker rooms, eventually getting expelled from school. He didn’t play just one card game and was consistently good at many poker variants, as well as other games like elimination blackjack. In his early twenties, no different than many other professional poker players, he moved to Vegas to pursue a poker career. Nguyen was employed as a dealer at Harrah’s room, making around $150 a night, but losing it frequently in games of stud. Despite admitting to be a self-proclaimed “fish” or inexperienced player, he still relished the thrill of the game and gambling. 

In 1985, he got a big break when he was invited to Lake Tahoe as the dealer for a Texas Hold’em tournament. Through working and playing in cash games, he built his bankroll up to seven grand. From there, he went to Vegas and exponentially grew his bankroll to a cool million. Fame followed, and soon he was playing alongside legends such as Johnny Chan and Puggy Pearson. He went on a massive spending spree, blowing over a hundred thousand dollars in cash on a Camaro, a Corvette and a condo. 

The life of excess caught up with him and his addictive nature was fueled by his ever-growing bankroll. All it took was one big losing streak before he found himself broke.

Tournament Success

Needing to rebuild his bankroll, Nguyen turned to poker tournaments in 1995. In 1997, he got his first big break at the WSOP. He won an Omaha Eight or Better event, claiming his first bracelet and over $150,000. Despite this, he once again ended up broke shortly before next year’s WSOP. He didn’t even have enough money for a satellite tournament, but thankfully, another player named Mike Matusow saw the potential in Nguyen and sponsored a third of his buy-in and this investment paid off. Nguyen won the 1998 WSOP main event for $1 million. He is known for being very animated at the tables and the final hand was no exception. With a board of 8-9-9-8-8, Nguyen warned his opponent, Kevin McBride, “You call, it’s gonna be all over baby!” To which McBride replied, “I call. I play the board.” Nguyen won with J-9 giving him the better full house with nines over eights. This main event win was unfortunately marred by tragedy the next day, as Nguyen’s brother passed away in a car accident. Out of memory and respect, Nguyen chooses not to wear this bracelet. 

Scotty Nguyen played on several World Poker Tour final tables placing first in January 2006, becoming only one of six players ever to win both WSOP and WPT main events. The following year, he was the runner up in the WSOP seven card stud high low split eight or better event.

“The Prince of Poker” has come to favor tournament events for their more relaxed and jovial environment, which is more difficult to experience in cash games.


Nguyen’s dramatic and emotional gameplay has brought him a fair share of controversy, the most famous incident occurring during his 2008 run in the $50,000 WSOP HORSE event, now known as the Poker Players Championship. During the live broadcast of the final table, Nguyen was drinking excessively, which led to him criticizing and swearing at various people, including waiters and waitresses. Even though he won, his behaviour was unprofessional especially for such a prestigious event. His initial apology to fans saw him blame the broadcast’s editing, the perceived behavior of Michael DeMichele, and exhaustion. During a later interview, he issued his fans a formal apology. This one had him admit there was no excuse for his behavior and that he did not blame anyone other than himself for his behavior. Since then, he has sworn off of alcohol during broadcasts. 

The following year, Scotty won the 2009 LA Poker Classic HORSE World Championship, again confirming his status as one of the greatest poker players of all time. In 2013, he was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame.