Simon Lam wins WPT Gardens Poker Festival; Controversial Men “The Master” Nguyen takes 3rd

The World Poker Tour have been bringing their exceptional brand of poker tournament to far flung corners of the globe for many years now, and this time around, it was Hawaiian Gardens that played host. The Gardens Casino saw hundreds of players arrive to be involved in this event, with 584 people paying US$5,000 for a seat. The prize pool eventually grew to the final figure of US$2,944,800 for the tournament, which took place between July 21st and 26th.

Simon Lam  wins US$565,055 and a new Mercedes-Benz car.

Simon Lam
Simon Lam – Photo WPT

As with all WPT events, the standard of play in this tournament was high, and there were several notable names involved in the action. By the end of the two first starting flights, Kitty Kuo, David Pham, Kevin MacPhee, Marvin Rettenmaier, Maria Ho, Chris Klodnicki and Chance Kornuth were among those with healthy chip stacks, but most of the bigger names slowly fell away as the tournament moved through days 2, 3 and 4.

By the start of the final day, there were only 6 survivors, with Men ‘The Master’ Nguyen being the most familiar name that neutrals could cheer for. Sadly, despite accumulating chips, he disappointed somewhat. In between drinking beers and falling asleep at the table, he was also repeatedly caught up in controversy, but more on that in a moment.

Simon Lam led the way coming into the final table, with 6.1 million chips putting him a little way ahead of Jake Schindler and Men Nguyen, who both had around 4 million. He went on to complete the job very professionally, using his chip lead to battle his way to the title. Nguyen and Schindler finished 3rd and 2nd respectively, but the day belonged to Lam, who picked up US$565,055 for his victory, along with a new Mercedes-Benz car.

Men the miscreant

Men The Master
Men The Master – Photo WPT

While Simon Lam was making headlines for all the right reasons, Men Nguyen was busy making them for all the wrong reasons. He got caught up in disputes with floor staff due to his erratic behaviour, even seemingly attempting an angle shot. Among his transgressions were, falling asleep at the table, raising illegal bet amounts, not using time bank chips properly and refusing to stack chip denominations clearly.

He topped this behaviour off with what appeared to be a shady move while in a hand against Steve Sung. Facing a 210,000 reraise on the river, Nguyen appeared to drop two chips into the pot to call, before grabbing the chips and claiming he hadn’t called, once his opponent showed trip jacks. The floor was called, and video footage clarified that he had in fact put the chips into the pot.

Kitty Kuo takes 10th

WPT Kitty Kuo 0724 18
Kitty Kuo – Photo WPT

One of the better-known players on the tournament circuit, Kitty Kuo has made a name for herself by going deep in tournaments around the world. This one was no different, as she managed a creditable 10th place finish for US$55,010. Other notable cashers include Marvin Rettenmaier, who took 18th for US$24,040 and Australia’s Alex Lynskey also cashed in 35th place, picking up US$14,705 for his efforts. David Pham and Nipun Java also picked up small cashes of US$10,095 after finishing 59th and 63rd respectively. The final payouts of the tournament are as follows:

Final Table Payouts

1st – Simon Lam – US$565,055
2nd – Jake Schindler – US$366,740
3rd – Men ‘The Master’ Nguyen – US$270,430
4th – Craig Varnell – US$201,615
5th – Saya Ono – US$151,995
6th – Jared Griener – US$115,885

Article by Craig Bradshaw