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Men 'The Master' Nguyen

By Paul McGuire

Men “The Master” Nguyen is one of the most colorful professional poker players you will ever come across. He started out as a Seven-card Stud player but has transformed into one of the best No Limit tournament players in the world. He’s friendly and will often be found talking non-stop at the tables. He’s usually spotted with his trademark beer, a Corona, near his stack of chips. In one infamous episode of the World Series of Poker, Men the Master snarfed on his Corona when it went down the wrong pipe. He spit the beer out all over his jacket and on the table in one of the funniest moments of the WSOP ever captured on TV.

Men Nguyen
Men Nguyen - Source: Las Vegas & Poker

Men the Master has been known to tutor plenty of players including several of his Vietnamese countrymen and women, and that’s why one of his students gave him the nickname “Men the Master.” Men has a huge heart and often donates a portion of his winnings to build temples and schools back in Vietnam.

Men “The Master” Nguyen was born in the Phanthiet Province in Vietnam, which is about 200 kilometers away from Saigon. He moved to the United States in 1978 to escape the brutal communist regime in his home country. Men was one of the many boat people who escaped Vietnam and spent five days at sea trying to reach Malaysia. He eventually made his home in the Los Angeles area where he worked various odd jobs including one as a machinist. He studied English at night and worked long hours during the day. Although he started playing poker in 1978, he finally quit his full time job in 1990 to pursue a career as a professional poker player. He would play in different Los Angles poker rooms during the week and drive out to Las Vegas on the weekends. The first time he played poker in Las Vegas, it was at Caesar’s Palace during a junket and the game was Seven-card Stud. He was hooked right away despite losing in his first session and not understanding all the rules.

One of Men the Master’s first students was his cousin David “The Dragon” Pham. As the story goes, Pham was working in one of Men’s stores, a dry cleaner in California. Pham would see Men walk into the store with large wads of cash and discovered that Men won all of that cash through poker. In 1991, Pham asked Men to teach him how to play and he became Men’s first student. Today, Pham might be one of Men’s greatest students since he transformed into an excellent No Limit tournament player following Men’s advice. Men has since then taken on dozens more students, and mostly all of them are Vietnamese. He teaches his students how to play like him. He stresses the importance of reading their opponents and trying to figure out their hole cards. He teaches his students how to shift their style of play but to also play aggressively against the tight players and passively against the aggressive players.

Men the Master has an impressive poker resume. He was named Player of the Year in 1997 and has won $4 million playing in tournaments. Men has six World Series of Poker bracelets in $1,500 Seven-Card Stud (1992), $2,500 Seven-Card Stud Split (1995), $2,500 Limit Hold'em (1995), $2,500 Omaha 8 or Better (1996), $5,000 Seven-Card Stud (2003), $1,500 Ace to Five Triple Draw Lowball (2003). In addition, Men the Master has made at least 36 final table appearances at the WSOP, including five 2nd place finishes. Talk about some impressive stats. He is also first on the all-time list of career cashes at the WSOP with 48. He passed both Phil Hellmuth and Berry Johnston this year. Men also made two final tables on the World Poker Tour at the L.A. Pro-Celebrity Invitational at Commerce Casino and at Bay 101 Shooting Stars of Poker.

Men “The Master” Nguyen currently lives in Southern California and can be seen playing regularly on the tournament circuit. He can also be found playing at Commerce Casino in Los Angeles, which is his favorite card room.

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