1998 World Series of Poker Main Event Winner
To say the poker career of Scotty Nguyen is an up and down one would be an understatement. There have been incredible highs, rock bottom lows and even tragedy mixed in with his poker story. This page covers the highlights of the 1998 World Series of Poker Main Event winner.
At one point early in his career Scotty Nguyen had built a bankroll of more than a million dollars. But a combination of excessive spending and alcohol and drug addiction meant he headed into the 1998 World Series of Poker broke.
So broke that he couldn’t afford the entry fee into a satellite qualifier for the Main Event.
Fortunately, Mike Matusow saw the potential in Nguyen and paid 1/3 of the satellite entry fee. Nguyen would duly qualify, and Matusow would look back on his investment as one of the shrewdest moves of his career.
How the 1998 WSOP Main Event Unfolded
352 players took part in the main event in 1998. Two notable entrants were actors in Matt Damon and Edward Norton. They took their seats to promote their upcoming movie ‘Rounders’. Both actors busted out on the first day, as did many of the other big names. The only previous winner making the money in 1998 was Jack Keller who finished 22nd.
At the bubble stage Nguyen started dominating the tournament, eliminating many of the players himself as the field thinned. One hand even saw Nguyen eliminate a pair of players at once.
Televised Final Table
The television final table began with just five players still in action. Nguyen featured, along with Lee Salem, Dewey Weum, Kevin McBride, and T. J. Cloutier (a final table veteran). At this point, the relatively inexperienced McBride found some confidence and started winning the big pots and eliminating players. By the time the table was heads up, McBride had a chip lead of more than a million over opponent Nguyen.
Scotty would soon turn it around heads up and regain the chip lead and then build a 4:1 advantage. However, McBride came back, and the tournament was in the balance again.
The final hand of the event was a memorable one, even for the Main Event. The board was a full house by itself, with 8-9-9-8-8 on the flop, turn and river. Nguyen famously said to his opponent, “You call, it's gonna be all over baby!". McBride did call, expecting a to split the pot, but Nguyen held a 9, to make a bigger full house and win the tournament.
Scotty Nguyen would pocket a cheque for $1 million, a third of which went to Mike Matusow.
In a tragic footnote to his win, one of his brothers was killed in a car crash in Vietnam the very next day. Because of this, Nguyen has never worn his WSOP Main Event win bracelet.
Other Tournament Successes for Scotty Nguyen
The biggest other success for Nguyen came in 2008, when he won the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E Players Championship at the World Series of Poker, picking up a prize of just short of $2 million. To this day, he remains the only player to have won both the Player’s Championship and the Main Event.
His biggest other payday came in January 2006, landing the $10,000 World Poker Tour event at the Gold Strike Resort and Casino.
Playing Style of Scotty Nguyen
Nguyen has an interesting playing style where he uses table talk to get information from his opponents and invariably try to pressure them into making bad decisions. With his own running commentary throughout the hands, it could be said that the Vietnamese American is the perfect poker player for TV.
Before and After the WSOP Main Event Win
Scotty Nguyen was born in Nha Tang, Vietnam in 1962. Because of the ongoing conflict in the country his mother sent him first to Taiwan and then to the US at the age of 14. He was expelled from school for playing underground poker games, which unusually, bode well for his future.
He would attend dealer school at the age of 21 and got employed at Harrah’s poker room. A self-confessed ‘fish’ at the time, his poker would quickly improve - with only bad habits and heavy spending putting paid to much more success in his early career.
To this day, Nguyen is still a regular on the circuit and as recently as 2018 he secured a huge half a million plus win at the World Series of Poker.
Could You be the Next WSOP Champion?
It may cost $10,000 in cold hard cash to enter the WSOP main event directly, but there are other avenues where you could find yourself a seat for just a few dollars. Nguyen qualified for the Main Event through a satellite and many online sites offer this as a route to Las Vegas. Use your poker skills and that little bit of luck that always helps to traverse your way through a qualifier - and you could find yourself sitting at the big dance.
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