Thuan Nguyen was born a different man than most will know him when he dies. Thuan was born on October 28, 1962 in Nha Trang in the war-torn nation of Vietnam, the first of 13 children born to his parents.
At the age of 11 Scotty Nguyen (then still known as Thuan) boarded a makeshift refugee raft/boat with one of his younger brothers headed to Thailand. The vessel became lost at sea in the vast Pacific Ocean for 23 days until it was discovered by a Taiwanese rescue boat (some unsubstantiated reports suggest that the rescue occurred after a rash of cannibalism had broken out amongst the surviving refugees.) The rescue ship took Thuan to Taiwan where he would endure 6 months in a hard labor camp awaiting word from a US family concerning his possible adoption.
Sure enough, word came and at the age of 14 Thuan migrated to Chicago, IL where perhaps the most unexpected leg of his journey took place. For once in Chicago, the 14 year old Thuan who had survived the Vietnam War, 6 months hard labor and 23 days lost at sea (possibly with cannibalism) requested a second move in the US due to the “inclement weather” of Chicago. It is perhaps here that we first see the emergence of Scotty “The Prince of Poker” from the refugee Thuan Nguyen.
Thuan’s request would be granted and he’d finish his high school career in Orange County, CA then head out to Las Vegas to find his fortune as a table cleaner in Harrah’s Casino. It was there that Thuan’s pit manager dubbed the future poker superstar “Scotty” because Thuan was “just too hard to say.”
Scotty Nguyen would work his way up from table cleaner to dealer to struggling player to rising star over the next decade. In 1998, one year after his idol Stu Ungar had reclaimed his rightful place at the top of the poker world with the 1997 World Series of Poker Main Event championship, Scotty took home the $1,000,000 first prize for his own WSOP Main Event victory.
Since his 1998 Main Event victory, Scotty Nguyen has gone on to establish one of the most unique and impressive tournament poker records in the world. Amongst his many accomplishments:
- Scotty is one of three players (Chip Reese and Freddy Deeb are the other two) to have won the prestigious $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. championship at the World Series of Poker
- Scotty is one of three players (Doyle Brunson and Juan Carlos Mortensen are the other two) to have won a WSOP Main Event title and a WPT title
- Scotty’s 5 WSOP victories puts him in 11th place for the most of all-time
- Scotty is the only player to have won a WSOP Main Event and the 50K H.O.R.S.E. championship, not to mention that he is the only player to have won a WSOP Main Event, a 50K H.O.R.S.E. championship and a WPT event
His persona as a cigarette smoking, hard-drinking, lovable loudmouth proceeds him every where he goes, from the poker table to the liquor store. Scotty Nguyen is easily one of the top ten tournament pros active in the world today, a millionaire many times over and amongst the most cherished members of the poker community. Yet beneath it all, he is a boy named Thuan who survived civil war, hard labor and worse only to reject the metropolis of Chicago because the weather wasn’t right. Thuan “Scotty” Nguyen is truly the Prince of Poker.