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Is Scotty Nguyen broke?

Thuan “Scotty” Nguyen immigrated the the U.S. from Vietnam when he was 14 years old. He moved to Las Vegas at age 19, enrolled in dealer school when he was 21, and began dealing poker in a Las Vegas casino poker room when he graduated. In 1985, while dealing tournaments in Lake Tahoe, Nguyen ran a small bankroll up to $7,000 in cash games. He ran that $7,000 up to $1,000,000 when he got back to Las Vegas.

Nguyen has won five WSOP bracelets, including one for the $10,000 Main Event in 1998. He won an event on the WPT in 2006. In total, the long-time poker pro has $11,761,816 in career tournament earnings, but he hasn’t booked any big wins recently and so there has been speculation that he might be broke. It wouldn’t be entirely surprising; Nguyen has displayed some questionable behaviors, and he’s been broke before.

Impulsiveness and Tournament Prowess

After his run to $1,000,000 in 1985, Nguyen was living at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, playing in high stakes cash games and living extravagantly. He reportedly made as much as $900,000 in a single night during this period, but his impulsive personality eventually caught up with him. He was abusing marijuana, alcohol, and cocaine, and he went broke when he hit a losing streak. He was left with very little and forced to rebuild. He was a regular on the Las Vegas tournament circuit throughout the 1990s and he had a big month in September 1995 when he won two tournaments at the Four Queens Poker Classic – $500 LHE and $1,000 Omaha/8 – for a combined $102,400.

Less than three years later, he won the Main Event. The five largest cashes of his career:

– 1st place for $1.989 million in the 2008 WSOP $50,000 Chip Reese Memorial
– 1st place for $1 million in the $10,000 buy-in WSOP Main Event in 1998- 1st place for $969,421 in the 2006 WPT Gold Strike $10,000 Championship Event
– 11th place for $476,926 in the $10,000 buy-in WSOP Main Event in 2007- 4th place for $336,282 in the 2005 WPRT Jack Binion World Poker Open $10,000 Championship Event

1997 and 1998 WSOP

During the 1997 WSOP, Nguyen took down the $2,000 Limit Omaha/8 Event for $156,950. It was the biggest cash of his career to that point. Unfortunately, he went broke again prior to the 1998 WSOP. Indeed, he could not even afford the buy-in for a Main Event satellite. Fellow poker pro Mike Matusow paid 1/3 of Nguyen’s buy-in. It was a good stake; Nguyen won the satellite and then won Main Event for $1,000,000. Mike the Mouth made $333,333.

Nguyen’s personality was on display during the Main Event as he drank cold beer and chattered throughout the final table, which was broadcast on ESPN. He was energetic and affable, and poker fans appreciated the show. During the final hand, Nguyen famously told his heads-up opponent, “You call, it’s gonna be all over baby,” after moving all in with the board reading 8c 9d 9h 8h 8s. His opponent made the call playing the full house on the board, but Scotty had Jd 9c for nines-full and won the tournament. His final table performance made him a fan favorite.

2008 WSOP $50,000 Chip Reese Memorial

Less well-received was Scotty’s performance during the 2008 Chip Reese Memorial $50,000 event. He was drinking too much and chattering too much, and behaving inappropriately. Nguyen berated the play of a young Michael DeMichelle, who he would eventually beat for the title heads-up, and may have soft-played at least one hand against Erick Lindgren during 3-handed play. He later issued an apology for his behavior, but his final table antics are exactly the sort of behavior that feeds the rumors that Scotty Nguyen might be broke.

Endorsement Deals and Other Activities

Nguyen has earned money from a number of different endorsement deals over the years. He has worked with the WPT, Activision, WPT Boot Camp, and the WSOP, and he’s also promoted regional casinos along with several smaller companies. He has appeared in a Diet Pepsi commercial and as a guest on Conan O’Brien. He was featured in a 1999 poker movie called “The Big Blind.”

The poker world hasn’t heard anything big from Nguyen in a few years, so it’s no wonder that people wonder if he’s short on funds. According to his website, he currently lives in Las Vegas with his wife and children. The family has three exotic pets: a Kinkajou monkey, a Savannah cat, and a Serval. He may have retreated from the spotlight in recent years, and he may not have the bankroll of some better-known pros, but Scotty Nguyen is not broke.

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