Line Up for the Train Wreck

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008, 10:16 am

Last night ESPN televised the final table of the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event, which I live-blogged along with Change100 and Logan. I was thrilled to cover what is perhaps the most prestigious poker tournament in the world, tho less so when I got a healthy taste of blogging stud games. That was no fun, hopefully Hold-Em will soon wipe all those games off the face of the Earth. Omaha/8, too, I’ve been getting killed playing Omaha/8 lately. Do away with it.

Anyway, I was interested to see how ESPN covered the weirdness of that final table. Believe me, it was weird, and ESPN showed a good bit of it. My ragged nerves probably contributed somewhat, but that night was one filled with bad energy. Fear and loathing. There was a lot of money at stake, a place in poker history up for grabs. The final table stage was jam-packed and there were scores of famous players in the stands watching their peers. Or their friends. Or, most likely, their horses.

Right now all the poker forums are lit up with people talking about Scotty Nguyen’s "performance". Scotty likes to drink at the table and that night it seemed like he got completely effed up. There was a moment of controversy right off the bat–Scotty drinks Michelob Ultra and the WSOP powers-that-be wouldn’t let him have a beverage other than Milwaukee’s Best Light on stage (and on camera). Forcing someone to drink Milwaukee’s Best Light would’ve deservedly landed WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack in the dock at The Hague, but cooler heads prevailed and Scotty was allowed to drink his Ultra with the labels peeled off.

How much did Scotty drink that night? How drunk was he? Was he drunk at all or just playacting? At the time I thought he was completely blasted. Even for Scotty Nguyen his behavior was erratic. He was talking really loud. He was laughing really loud, and he’d just keep on laughing and laughing maniacally until it started to get uncomfortable. He wouldn’t stack his chips, leaving them in ragged piles that were impossible to count. And he started dropping the F-bombs, and then the MF-bombs. He lost a hand and let loose with a barrage of profanity at one of the dealers that everyone in the room could hear in exquisite detail. I couldn’t believe that he didn’t get a penalty for that, but playing at a WSOP final table (especially one with ESPN’s cameras present) is like an overtime playoff hockey game. The refs swallow their whistles. Unless you commit felony murder on the ice, or the felt, play on.

The antics of the players really got on my nerves. And not just the ones seated at the table. Layne Flack kept walking onto the set, kept shouting "What’s UP…baybee?" to Scotty until that dead horse was well and beaten. Every player had their own little entourage, most of them were drinking pretty good (I had a couple at dinner and that soothed my savage breast) and the overall ambiance was pretty obnoxious.

When we got back from dinner it looked like Scotty had aged 10 years. He looked terrible, worn down and haggard. Yet he won the tournament. We were sitting 25 or so feet away and couldn’t hear all the table banter, and I really had no idea that Michael DeMichele and Scotty had locked horns as they did. The back-and-forth got pretty nasty, with Erick Lindgren floating above the fray but still finding time to give the needle with surgical precision. I was shocked to hear Lindgren say "I couldn’t beat a drunk" and "I hope the kid wins it" after he was knocked out. He was pissed, understandably so.

They didn’t show any of Scotty’s rambling (but fairly lucid) speech afterwards. Norman Chad wasn’t there to do the interview, which seemed odd as he’d shown up at other early-morning final tables. Scotty held court for a good fifteen minutes, taking a few final potshots at DeMichele ("I sent him back to school!") and then posing for pictures with his bracelet and the ghastly eyesore that is the David "Chip" Reese Memorial Trophy. Seriously, that thing is close-your-eyes awful. Do I have a picture of that?

Not the sharpest photo, but at least I cropped out Scotty’s exposed midriff. I’m not kidding.

It was a rough night. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t poker’s finest hour. And, two months late,  I’m glad I was there.

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11 Responses to “Line Up for the Train Wreck”

  1. Rob Says:

    anybody that singles out scotty is ignoring an entire slew of obnoxious poker players over the last 5 years. phil hellmuth said a guy couldn’t spell poker. mike matusow said kiddie games are that way. negreanu said annie had B.O. the list goes on and on. jamie gold’s bye-bye. mike matusow telling raymer he has little balls.

    also to all these people who think anyone gives a sh** if scotty wants your respect, you are not the president so if scotty has lost all your respect, look at his wife, i dont think he cares about losing your respect.

    give the man a break he has had a great track record. this is why he gets a pass. next time if it happens again there should be consequences, but this time, everyone is a allowed a f*ck-up in life.

  2. Rob Says:

    demichele was acting out of line and he also nearly slowrolled huck which would’ve been real ugly if huck had a better two-pair. scotty was obviously out of line. lindgren was out of line when he lost big time. i think lindgren was more out of line when he lost than anything scotty did. more people had done what scotty has done than what lindgren has done. who says i couldn’t beat a drunk after the guy beat you fair and square (AND EVEN GAVE YOU A POT OR TWO THAT MOST PEOPLE WOULDNT’)

  3. Gene Says:

    Hi Scotty!


  4. Jameson Says:

    Rob, if you believe the shit you just wrote, you know nothing about poker or its history. I’ve never seen a worse display, not even from Matusow or Hellmuth.

  5. Human Head Says:

    Gene, I had no idea you had a “savage breast”.

    (I know it’s a typo, but it’s a hilarious one. Please don’t correct it :))

  6. Gene Says:

    Aha! The actual quote from Shakespeare is “savage BREAST”. And then it was later bowdlerized to “beast”. Plus, I just like typing the word “breast”.

  7. Dr. Neau Says:

    Soothed your savage breast??

  8. Human Head Says:

    Henceforth and forevermore I will be using “savage breast”. It being the correct usage only serves to make it more awesome.

    Many thanks for the tidbit. I’ve never studied much Shakespeare, but this makes me want to change that situation:)

  9. Pokerati | Texas Hold’em Blog | Semi-live and Unofficial at the WSOP » Blog Archive » RE: Scotty Nguyen Apology Says:

    […] Mean Gene was on the scene when all was shaking down — and he’s got some great details about just how drinky a fete the $50k HORSE championship really was, and the bad vibes all around, that may or may not have come across on ESPN. […]

  10. Haley Says:

    I agree with almost everything except the trophy — I thought it was stunning.

  11. Jorad Says:

    Jameson you’re wrong. Rob was right about Hellmuth. He has been FAR worse than scotty. hellmuth cusses and belittles the person specifically, while 100% sober. and he does it every session. if you’ve “never seen a worse display” you clearly are a newbie. i see worse displays at the local poker room nearly every night.

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