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Poker Player Profile: Men Nguyen

By: Kenneth Bateman

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A native-born Vietnamese, Men Nguyen was 24 when he escaped from communist Vietnam in 1978 and sailed with a group of compatriots to Malaysia. However, his ultimate destination was the United States, where upon his arrival later that year was given political asylum. Settling in Los Angeles where some relatives and friends were located, Men rapidly assimilated and in 1986 was awarded U.S. citizenship.

Two years earlier, Nguyen, fascinated by stories of the Glitter Gulch city of Las Vegas, paid the town a visit and played his first game of poker there. Men was fascinated by the game and left Las Vegas that weekend with a determination to master it. And master it he did! With staunch determination and an unshakeable positive attitude Men began visiting Las Vegas every weekend to play poker, learning from his mistakes and continuing to improve his game.

Men’s development into a skilled poker player came amazingly fast, so much so that he actually won his first tournament in 1987, only three short years after his novice beginnings. Men used his winnings to open a dry cleaning business and a furniture store, but soon decided that there was a better future for him in the world of professional poker.

Older poker hands soon took to the friendly and gracious Men, and veteran players like Ken Flaton and Tommy Franklin were particularly helpful. Nguyen soon proved that he had the talent and mental toughness needed to succeed as a professional poker player. Men developed a desire to teach others, soon learning he possessed a natural ability to do so. In fact, Men has been involved in tutoring specially selected students for over a decade. He chooses from poker-playing wanabees who come to him with a sincere desire to learn, and have what Men considers the necessary attributes to be successful. His mentoring skills have earned him the nickname of “The Master”.

Certaninly Men’s credentials as a teacher are impressive, but his accomplishments as a player are even more so. Consider that Men has finished in the money in tournament play over 120 times, and has won more than 75 tournaments in his nearly two decades of playing professional poker. Men has won player of the year awards on no less than four occasions; 1997, 2001, 2003 and 2005.

Some Selective Tournament Victories:

• 1992 – Seven-Card Stud - $120,600
• 1995 – Seven-Card Stud Split - $96,000
• 1995 – Limit Hold’em - $110,000
• 1996 – Omaha 8 or Better - $110,000
• 2003 – Seven-Card Stud - $178,560
• 2003 – Ace To Five Triple Draw Lowball - $43,520

Currently residing in Bell Gardens, California with his wife Tuyet and their child, Men has never forgotten the gratitude owed to the United States for accepting him and allowing him to create the life he so enjoys. However, he has not forgotten his homeland either, and being the kind and generous person he is, he gladly shares some of his wealth with the less fortunate back home. Men has used some of his earnings to build a kindergarten in Vietnam and regularly sends money to needy children as well.

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Kenneth Bateman writes numerous articles on the subject of poker and its players. To read more player profiles, visit XL

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