Men “The Master” Nguyen is an unlikely messiah. He is loud, brash and borders on abusive at times at the poker table. He is a smoker and a drinker and has even left a WSOP Final Table in no condition to legally drive. But according to Card Player Magazine Men Nguyen has also been the best card player in the world over the past decade.
Men Nguyen has his own stable of protégés. They are novice gamblers, many of them from his own native Vietnam and are required to live by Men’s rules: 2 am curfew, no drugs, no sex with other players’ spouses and above all else, if the Master says it then the Student better do it. Many of Men’s former students have gone on to major tournament success – most notably two-time WSOP bracelet winner David “The Dragon” Pham.
Men’s own poker credentials are as impressive as any: 6 WSOP bracelets (tied for 7th most all-time,) 57 WSOP cashes (second most all time,) 9 WSOP circuit cashes (11th most all time,) live tournament earnings around $10,000,000 and to top it all off he is the only 4-time Cardplayer player of the year in the world (he won in 1991, 2001, 2003 and 2005.) He and Johnny Chan are easily the most successful non-US players to have played in major tournaments.
Even more impressive than his major tournament successes are his minor tournament successes: between 2000 and 2004 he cashed in 120 different tournaments and won 75 of them.
His personal story begins in Phan Thiet, Vietnam in 1954. He was born to a poor family that would require him to drop out of school at age 13 to earn much-needed money. He would become a bus driver and would remain in war-torn Communist Vietnam until 1978.
In 1978, Men Nguyen was able to escape Vietnam through a makeshift boat with 100 or so other refugees. He landed in sunny Los Angeles where he would receive political asylum and in 1986, his full US citizenship.
Between 1984 and 1987, Men learned how to play poker by losing all of his money in Las Vegas. The man now named The Master was at one point known as “Money Machine.” A shrewd investor, Men Nguyen owned and operated a dry cleaning business for a stable income during the day while he prowled the card-houses of LA at night.
Men Nguyen has remained an influential force in Vietnam through the financing of two different schools in his homeland as well as offering tutelage to recent Vietnamese immigrants searching for a viable livelihood in the US.
He is a cherished member of the LA community and has been featured in an article for the May 15, 2003 edition of the magazine LA Weekly. Men lives in Bell Gardens, Southern California.