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Van Nguyen Is Champ of the Celebrities!
Look out, Men the Master: there's a new champion in the Nguyen household! On Monday night in Los Angeles, Van "The Blaster" Nguyen continued her husband's tradition of dominance at the L.A. Poker Classic (Men won three preliminary events) by taking down the World Poker Tour Celebrity Invitational.
With her husband watching from the stands, Nguyen defeated a final table that included Poker Hall-of-Famer Billy Baxter as well as heads-up opponent Ethan Ruby to become the first woman in WPT history to capture a title in an open tournament. For the win, The Blaster banked $100,000 in prize money as well as the opportunity to show off her skills at the WPT World Championship at Bellagio in April.
We talked to Nguyen shortly after her victory.
How do you feel right now?
I feel excited and very happy!
How do you feel the final table went?
I tried to play well and I got good cards.
What did you think of how the heads-up match went?
Ethan played very well, but I got a lot of good hands and they held up, so... I tried to just look at one card - I've never played heads-up before, not at a final table!
Early at the final table I waited and waited for a good hand to play, but when it got to heads-up I felt I couldn't raise if I looked at two cards and the hand wasn't good. So I only looked at one card and on the last hand it was a king, so I raised. I got lucky.
Was there a time in the tournament when you knew you were going to win?
When we started to play heads-up I had a lot more chips than Ethan did, so I knew I could win it.
How did you start playing poker? We know your husband is a famous pro; did his enthusiasm for the game just rub off on you?
Before I started playing poker I would stay at home and take care of the kids, but after our kids grew up I'd follow him to where he'd go and play tournaments. He plays a lot of tournaments, my husband, and so I learned from him. He taught me how to play No-Limit.
The first time I tried to play poker I played Limit Hold'em, but now I try to play No-Limit.
Will you play more tournaments now that you've won this event?
Yeah, I will. I will play more tournaments. My husband told me I must try more tournaments with him now that I've done well in this one.
What means more to you, being the first female to win a WPT title or winning that title before your husband did?
(Laughs). I can't believe that I'm the first woman to win the WPT title. I'm still trying to believe it!
But no; Men is very supportive. He told me, "Wow, you won the WPT title," and he doesn't care that I won before him.
Was it helpful having him supporting you from the stands tonight?
He's supported me whenever I've played poker. Last night he was watching before I made the final table and today when I made the final table he was behind me watching me play. He never sweats other people at final tables usually, never, so it was nice that he was there for me.
So now I guess you can play poker and he can take care of the kids. Congratulations again.
And there you have it. Time will tell whether Van Nguyen will be able to build up her game to match her husband's lofty standards, but with Men taking down the preliminary events and Van the WPT titles, the Nguyen family could become a poker powerhouse very quickly.