Scotty Nguyen: The Fan Favorite

The win was a long time coming for the Prince of Poker, who last took home World Series hardware in 2001 and came within a few spots of making another Main Event final table in 2007. I caught up with Scotty after his win.

When the night started, who was your toughest opponent?

Barry Greenstein. He's the toughest opponent.

Once he was gone, it was E-dog. I focused on him. When E-dog's gone, baby, everything's like a walk in the park. You see that. Not even 20 minutes, it's done. Some hands I didn't have a hand at all, this kid he just muck it, you know? E-dog might play back at me and things might be different there.

Even E-dog might stop for an hour or two, but there's nothing gonna stop me. If I can knock out Phil Ivey, there's nobody can stop me. [laughing] This is what I want, baby. It's my dream to win this event.

The crowd seemed to be pulling for you all night. How important is fan support for you in a big situation like the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. final table?

The fans are No. 1 for a poker player. Without the fans, I'd never be who I am now. You would never have Scotty Nguyen, or Phil Hellmuth, or Daniel Negreanu, or Layne Flack.

It's important to give fans what they want - a good game, a good show. The fans fly in from all over the world. They fly in from Germany, Australia, London, Paris, just to come and see you. They ask you for pictures, autographs, and you can't say no to them. I always stop.

That's why wherever I go - the home team, baby! I'm the fan favorite, baby!

How much did last year's missed opportunity at the Main Event - where you finished in 11th place - weigh on you coming into this final table?

You know, people ask me a lot how that affects me coming into this tournament and the Main Event. I tell them it's not how you start, it's how you finish. If I can win the H.O.R.S.E. event and the Main Event, I will be able to erase the bad memory from last year.

See, last year the reason I don't win is because I make a mistake. I blow it. I was angry ... I get personal. You cannot get personal when you play the game - you gotta enjoy it, be happy, enjoy playing the game. Last year I guess one of the players got into me, and I wanted to knock him out so bad. But instead of knocking him out, I give him money, you know what I mean?

This year I say, "No more personal." I don't care who that is - you make me mad, I'm walking. And you see, I walk a lot, right? If it comes to the point where I blow up, I walk. I miss $10,000 here, $20,000 there for the blinds and the antes, but I tell myself, "Come back. Don't make the same mistake like last year, man. Win the H.O.R.S.E. event, and the Main Event. Everything will be erased."

Which title means more to you, this one tonight or your Main Event win?

You know, the Main Event - I already have it. The H.O.R.S.E. event, that was so important to me. I want to be the only man to ever win the Main Event at the World Series and the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. and a WPT Main Event. And now I'm the only man that's ever done that.

And also (I wanted it) for Chip Reese. The man was a legend. The poker world just misses him so much. He was a good player, and a gentleman. I wanted to be the first man to win his trophy, to remember him.

One more question, Scotty: is there any such thing as too much bling?

No! [laughing]

It's funny - a couple of weeks ago, when I walked in here to play an event, there was 2,200 players. And I walked by one table, and one player asked the other player, "You seen Scotty Nguyen?"

And the other player turned to him like, "Are you stupid or something, man? Don't you hear the bling, bling, bling?" [laughing] "That's Scotty, baby!"

It's something people remember, what Scotty Nguyen's style is. It's not just that I wear my jewelry, it's the way I talk, the way I treat people, the way I treat the fans. More poker players should do something like that for the fans. You know, they want pictures, autographs - give that to them. Don't say no to them. Enjoy the fans. Without them there is no Scotty Nguyen!

Most of the players think, "I have to play! You have to wait for break time." I never say that, ever, even when I'm playing $100k/$200k blinds. I'll lose $500,000 to take a picture with them.

Congratulations, Scotty, and thanks for your time.

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Persistence and dedication paid off for Scotty Nguyen this year in the form of one of poker's biggest prizes. Our hats are off to the 2008 H.O.R.S.E. World Champion.

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