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NAME: Men Nguyen
NICK NAME: "The Master"
HOOD:
BEST FRIENDS: The Children of

 

BLUFF: Men, you are big on the poker scene - so big your new website has a cult following. What’s the secret?

 

MEN: The web site is where we talk about my news and tournament victories; we have a message board too. But I think what is really popular is the online poker school. My first student, David ‘The Dragon’, is really successful, and has gotten a third place in one of the World Poker Tour events last month.

 

BLUFF: What teaching methods do you use to make your students successful players?

 

MEN: I create a strategy for them to play against good and bad players. I teach them to assess players when they sit at the table, and they adjust their strategy to each different level of player.

 

I teach my students to play the way I do, I don’t hold any secrets back. I teach them to play aggressively against the tight players and passively against the aggressive players. (laughs). But I cannot tell all your readers my secrets, because they are the reason for my success.

 

BLUFF: Now I know this is going to sound xenophobic, and I know you are from Vietnam, and Kung Fu is Chinese and not Vietnamese, but in Kung Fu movies, the master (and you are The Master) always has the edge over his rebellious students (usually named Grasshopper). Can you still Kung Fu kick-ass all over your students in heads-up poker?

 

MEN: (Laughs again) No, no, no. I teach them everything, but I tell them not to let anyone else know. I’ve been beaten many times by my students. In poker, a lot has to do with luck, but much has to do with skill. But luck or no luck, it’s always hard to play with my top students at the table.

 

Poker is different from teaching Kung Fu. In Kung Fu The Master is worried that if he doesn’t hold some techniques back from his students,one of them might kill him. It’s not that dangerous for The Master to teach poker.

 

BLUFF: Men, you are The Master, but who was The Master’s teacher?

 

MEN: I am self-taught. I created my own strategy. But the most important thing is that I can read my opponents. It’s like a gift from God. I can see through them. I can also project that I have a big hand when I have a small one, or portray that I have a small hand when I have a monster.

 

I first started playing poker in 1978. I went to Vegas and discovered 7-card stud at Caesar’s Palace. When I left Vegas, I kept thinking about poker and how I could beat different opponents. You can say that I am a fast learner. I am also gifted because I believe that I was born lucky.

 

BLUFF : Born lucky? Come on… really?

 

MEN: I believe that some people are born lucky. It all depends on the time, day and year you are born. I am a Ram in the Chinese horoscope. Rams are intelligent and hard working when young, and able to achieve their goals when they are older.

 

So far it’s proving true. When I was young, I worked hard in . During the war I was in and supported the Americans. My Father was in the Army helping the , so I was eventually able to immigrate into as a refugee in 1975 when the communists took over . My family was being punished there, and I got my Father’s permission to leave and go to the .

 

I am what they call a ‘boat person’. I left with 88 people on a boat far too small for so many people to travel 5 nights and 4 days to . From there I immigrated into the and moved to Los Angles.


 

I was lucky even to get to the . A lot of people that tried to leave didn’t make it. There were a lot of pirates that would stop the boat people, rob them, rape the women, and finally kill everyone. That is why has more Vietnamese men then women - the passage was too dangerous for most women to take.

 

BLUFF: Do you ever return to visit ?

 

MEN: I go back every year. I give a lot of my money to charity in , for the children. I go to to bring Christmas and New
Year presents to the children of . I am like a godfather to many of them.

 

BLUFF: Men, tell me the truth, did they play poker on that boat from ?

 

MEN: (gets him laughing a third time) Nobody knew American poker games on the boat. But we did play a Vietnamese kind of 5-card stud with a deck from the 8 to the Ace - only 28 cards. Completely different rules.

 

BLUFF: Before you were a Poker player, what were you?

 

MEN: I was a machinist. But in 1990 I was making more money as a poker player than in my machinist job, so I became a fulltime professional poker player. Before that I would just work and play. I worked from seven in the morning to five at night, and went to English classes after I got home from work. Then on the weekend, on Friday night or Saturday morning, I would go to Las Vegas and play at the Dunes, 7-Card Hi/Lo Split . The first tournament I won was in 1987.

 

BLUFF: Where is your favorite place to play poker these days?

 

MEN: I love to play at the Commerce casino. I live in California and it’s not far from where I live. They treat me well, like they treat all their players.

 

BLUFF: When you win your first million-dollar tournament, where are you going to celebrate?

 

MEN: (laughs - Men is laughing all over this interview, and I’m feeling a bit self-conscious about it!) I’m not going to tell you - that’s my business…

 

But really, I think if I win a big one, I may go back to and build another school, or maybe build houses for the homeless. People always ask me ‘Men, are you still sending money back home to the kids?’ When I say yes they give me one or two hundred to bring back for the kids there. I built a school in . Most schools belong to the government, but I built a school myself. It’s a kindergarten; there aren’t really kindergartens in , so it’s very special. It’s like my own school, and I am like a godfather to the children that go there.

 

BLUFF: Do they teach poker in that school?

 

MEN: No way!

 

(© 2005 BluffMagazine. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed)

 


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