EPT Deauville: Scotty looking for a win
There are few players as recognisable in poker as 1998 WSOP champ Scotty Nguyen. You can keep your Phil Hellmuths and Johnny Chans, when it comes to American poker moments there are few that beat that moment when the Vietnamese born pro induces the call from Kevin McBride that wins him the Main Event by saying "You call this one and it's all over, baby".
Unlike some, Nguyen isn't one of those players that performs purely for the cameras; he'll chug beers at the table if he wants, he'll banter, joke and brag if he so chooses, but for the moment Nguyen is relatively quiet (quite possibly because most of the players at his table are French speakers).
In poker terms, Nguyen was also quiet throughout 2011 which marked an unusually barren poker patch for the American. He collected just $95,613 in live tournament cashes. Only two other years in the last 17 have been less lucrative and it was the first this century that Nguyen didn't rake a six-figure annual haul. While it shouldn't be a major concern to have an off-year when a player has notched up $11,425,567 - enough to put him ninth in the all-time money list - we had to find out if Scotty* needed to turn something around.
*How many other players are known by their first name more than surname?
"I have so many things to do back home with family so I didn't play so much. This is my first tournament since the World Series in Cannes (mid-October). I had a very bad last World Series so it's my goal to kick ass this year. To get it back, to get what Scotty Nguyen's made of, you know, baby," said Nguyen, rattling his trademark gold jewellery excitedly.
Although this is Nguyen's first time playing EPT Deauville he revealed himself to be a surprise Francophile: "I'd never been but I like Paris. I like the people and they always treat me good. I enjoy coming to France. I have a very good friend that lives in Paris and he invited me over to play."
Although there was that disgracing moment at the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. Championship, which Nguyen went on to win, and later apologised for, the pro player has been a firm fan favourite for a lengthy and glittering career. And it's little surprise why. He laughs loudly, frequently and infectiously while stories of him going round and hugging every single player in a tournament only add to his legend.
As I leave the table, the action is on him after all and I'm receiving more evil eyes than he, Nguyen insists on shaking hands, both mitts clamping warmly over my hand, the other now juggling a notebook, pen and dictafone. He leans forward and says loudly: "I'm gonna kick ass at the World Series, baby!"
I'm just hoping said ass-kicking starts here in Deauville. Nguyen simply provides too much entertainment value to get knocked out before EPT Live starts broadcasting on Sunday. Nguyen is yet to get chipped up but it's still very early days.