Scotty Nguyen’s Life: Biggest Profits, Losses, Private Life & Net Worth

– General Information –

Scotty Nguyen playing poker

Thuận B “Scotty” Nguyen is a Vietnamese-American professional poker player. He was born on October 28th, 1962 in Nha Trang, Vietnam. He’s best known for winning the 1998 World Series of Poker Main Event.

In addition, he has 4 WSOP bracelets, including one from the $50K H.O.R.S.E. in 2008, for which he got $1.989 million. Overall, he has over $12.5 million in live tournament earnings to his name. He’s also notorious for playing poker drunk in front of the cameras on a few occasions.


– Key Career Dates –


  • 1983: He starts playing poker in his local casinos.
  • 1998: He wins the WSOP Main Event for $1,000,000.
  • 2008: He appears on the classic NBC poker show Poker After Dark.
  • 2008: He wins the WSOP $50,000 H.O.R.S.E event for $1.989 million. That his biggest single live tournament cash to date.


– Scotty Nguyen’s Career –

 → Beginnings ←

Nguyen moved to Orange County, CA in the United States at the age of 14, during the Vietnam War. Originally, he had trouble fitting in and learning the English language.

According to an interview he gave to, he eventually got a job as a busboy at a restaurant. In 1983, he decided to quit that job. He claims he took his $270 paycheck and turned it into $1 million at the poker table within 6 months. He went back to the restaurant to rub his success in the faces of the waiters and waitresses that would treat him badly at work.

However, his Wikipedia page, linking to a dead page as the source, claims that he got a job dealing cards at Harrah’s Poker Room before becoming a professional player. It also writes that he built up a $1 million bankroll that he ended up busting completely.

Due to his lavish lifestyle and downswings, he had to rebuild his bankroll from zero a few times during his long career as a professional cardplayer.


→ Live Tournaments ←

Scotty Nguyen’s Hendon page shows an impressive $12.626 million in career earnings. That number was accumulated over the course of ITM finishes in 311 different tournaments and 27 years. He’s currently in the top 100 players on the website’s all time money list.

The first cash on his profile comes from 1991. He came in second in a $115 tournament at the “Winter Poker Olympics” and won $6,600. In the following years, he racked up dozens of cashes in small buy-in events in a wide variety of games: Hold’em, Omaha, Omaha Hi-Lo, Stud and even Chinese Poker.

His big breakthrough came during the 1997 World Series. That was the first time he cashed for over $100,000.

In 2006, he won a $10K tournament at the Gold Strike World Poker Open for $969,421. He beat none other than the now 5-time WSOP bracelet winner Michael Mizrachi heads-up for the title.

In 2009, he won a $10K H.O.R.S.E. event at the LA Poker Classic, pocketing $260,485. In 2005, he came in 4th place in a $10K NLHE event at the Jack Binion World Poker Open in Tunica, MS and won $336,282.


→ World Series Of Poker ←

Scotty Nguyen has been extremely successful at the World Series. He’s among the 10 players who have won 5 bracelets, and among the 26 players in the history of the WSOP who have managed to win 5 or more.

Scotty Nguyen after winning

His first title is from 1997, in the $2,000 Omaha 8-or-Better event, for which he got $156,959.

His real claim to fame, however, came the next year. Before the World Series, Nguyen busted his bankroll once again so he had to sell action to be able to play. Mike “the Mouth” Matusow bought a ⅓ piece of his $420 satellite buy-in for the Main Event.

Nguyen ended up going all the way and topped the 350-player field, taking down poker’s most coveted title, the WSOP Main Event bracelet.

In the final hand against Kevin McBride, a full house was dealt on the board – 899 8 8. Nguyen moved all-in on the river. McBride, holding a busted straight flush draw (QT of hearts) was planning on folding, as he admitted in the post-game interview. However, when Nguyen proclaimed “you call, it’s gonna be all over, baby”. McBride, thinking his opponent trying to get him to fold, called and announced he was playing the board. Nguyen turned over J9 off-suit, a higher full house, and won the championship.

Nguyen took home $1,000,000, one third of which was going for Matusow.

His next bracelet came in 2001, when he won the $2,500 PLO event for $178,480. The same year, he also finished first in the $5,000 Omaha 8-or-Better for $287,580. 

Nguyen’s biggest single live tournament score is also from a WSOP event. In 2008, he won the $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. tournament for $1,989,120. In that field, he had to compete with such legends of the game as Doyle Brunson, Huck Seed or Phil Ivey.


→ Live Cash Games ←

In 2008, Nguyen appeared in an episode of Poker After Dark, a classic poker show that aired on NBC between 2007 and 2011. There, he played a $400/$800 NLHE cash game session against Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu, Jennifer Harman, his former staker Mike Matusow and an amateur who won a seat through a Full Tilt contest.

In an interview with in 2007, he said that he hadn’t played cash games for years. In a confusing explanation, he said he’s too “friendly” of a poker player and he was playing too soft in cash games. Also, he was too financially secure to get motivated to play.


→ Online Poker ←

Scotty Nguyen has played live poker during his entire career, there’s no information about any account in any online poker room affiliated with him.


→ Scandals ←

The strip poker photo

The 2009 ESPN Magazine body issue featured four prominent poker players in the nude. Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, Jennifer Harman and Scotty Nguyen. The four can be seen on the photo sitting naked at the poker table, although their private parts are covered.

Scotty Nguyen and other players naked on the ESPN photo


Being drunk at the table

During the $50K H.O.R.S.E. event at the 2008 World Series, Nguyen was drinking heavily, ordering drink after drink. He was visibly intoxicated, he was using foul language constantly while being filmed for ESPN coverage, and he even exposed his hole cards to the live audience at some point.

After the event, Nguyen took to the CardPlayer Forum to publicly apologize for his behavior.

“This tournament was too important for me, the trophy, the fifth bracelet, and history, my head was zoned in for this event, and for that time, I forgot the fans were watching me. I said things I shouldn’t have said that have disappointed you, and I apologize for my action” – the Main Event champion wrote.

And, as we wrote above, he ended up winning the event and his 5th bracelet.