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Dan Igo

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Folk hero Soi Nguyen to remain busy in 2010

14 Feb 2011

By Dan Igo
MASHANTUCKET, Connecticut -- Every year at the World Series of Poker Main Event, one player emerges as the folk hero. Dennis Phillips was the 2008 folk hero. Darvin Moon earned that distinction in 2009. And in 2010 it was Soi Nguyen.

The California-native was the elder statesman of the final table at the age of 37. He was the only amateur at the final table. And he vowed to continue working as a medical supplies salesman after he was eliminated from the Main Event in ninth place.

Nguyen kept his promise to continue working. But he hasn't left poker behind.

Nguyen reunited with the other eight members of the November Nine at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut on Tuesday to compete in a 30-person freeroll tournament. He actually arrived at Foxwoods on Thursday, and was responsible for drawing the 18 random players who would compete against the November Nine in the freeroll.

Nguyen was the second November Niner to be eliminated in Tuesday's tournament, but he's proven in the last few months he isn't a poker fluke.

He made headlines late last year after he won an FTOPS event on Full Tilt Poker and pocketed almost $80,000. What made that win even more significant was that he was the person who hosted the event.

Nguyen said before Tuesday's freeroll that he "definitely" has a target on his back, and he's been able to use that to his advantage.

"I played in an event (at Foxwoods) on Friday and I had six people call me pre-flop and I had kings," he said. "I know people are going to play me differently so I judge (the situation) and capitalize on their mistakes."

When he was approached by Foxwoods poker spokesman Bernard Lee last year about a November Nine reunion, Nguyen said he was enthusiastic about the idea.
Soi Nguyen was the folk hero of the 2010 WSOP Main Event.

Soi Nguyen was the folk hero of the 2010 WSOP Main Event. (photo by Vin Narayanan)

"(Lee) said he got a verbal commitment from everybody. But then maybe that's what he told everybody," he said. "I talked to the other guys and they said 'yeah all eight of us agreed on it and we're only waiting on you.'"

Nguyen said he really liked the reunion concept because of the connection he felt with the rest of the November Nine.

"I think the great thing about the break we had is that we actually bonded pretty well. A lot of us became really close friends. Joe (Cheong) and Jason (Senti) and I talk all the time," he said. "We all went out last night, all got pretty wasted and had a good time. Jason Senti is the best bowler out of all of us."

Nguyen plans to have a pretty active poker schedule for 2010. Like many of the November Nine, his next major event is in Los Angeles.

"My next thing is LAPC," he said. "And actually Joe and I are thinking about going to Asia and the Philippines to play in an APPT event."

He also set some goals for his active poker schedule, both in live and online tournaments.

"I want to final table a WPT event and take down a WPT event," he said. "And I want to take down another FTOPS event."

Despite his active poker schedule, Nguyen says he continue working for his full-time employer. He's actually taken a different role inside his company because of his absences.

He says his boss knows how important his role is in the company. What his boss might not know, however, is Nguyen's plans for this year's World Series.

"I'm probably going to try to play as many events as I can possibly play out there," he said. "I'm going to be taking a leave of absence (from work) and actually my boss doesn't know this yet. So this is one way for him to find out. 'Hey John, guess what? From May to July I'll be taking a lot of time off.'"
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