After a grueling seven hours of head-ups play, Qui Nguyen emerged as the newest winner of the World Series of Poker main event. His prize? More than $8 million and a pretty snazzy little braclet.
Nguyen’s final hand was king-10, both clubs. With the action on him, he raised 8.5 million chips. San Francisco-based pro Gordon Vayo moved all in with 53 million chips and jack-10 of spades. Nguyen called and once the cards were flipped, he did not regret it.
He had Vayo dominated. Nguyen paired his king on the flop but Vayo picked up two got-shot straight draws, slightly improving his chances. But the turn and the river missed him and Nguyen’s kings held up.
This was Nguyen’s first World Series of Poker main event, but he played with the confidence and aggression of a seasoned vet. He used his chip stack to his advantage while playing Vayo head-to-head and kept the pro guessing.
An immigrant from Vietnam, Nguyen is a rags to riches story of the highest order. After he came to the U.S. 15 years ago, he began working in nail shop and playing poker for fun. He won his entry to the WSOP main event not by paying the $10,000 fee, but by winning a $1,100 satellite.
And now that he’s a millionaire, he’s not planning to forget where he came from. Nguyen has promised to donate 10 percent of his winnings to fighting poverty in Vietnam and another 2.5 percent to the Wounded Warrior Project. Nguyen’s older brother, who came to the U.S. in 1972, served in the Marines for 23 years.
“I owe my brother a lot,” he told ESPN. “I’m not here in the U.S. without him.”