The WPT Gardens Main Event Champion must feel like a superhero right now, and appropriately so.
The final of three World Poker Tour final tables at the HyperX Arena came to an end after about five hours of play. Nguyen bested satellite entrant Ryan Salunga, who started the day as chip leader, in heads-up play to finish the job and take home $357,380 and his first WPT title.
WPT Gardens Poker Championship Main Event results
|Prize (In USD)
Up, up, and a winner
Nguyen came into the day fourth in chips with just over 20 big blinds and a dream. The dream grew more realistic very early in the day.
“I got an important double up with pocket kings,” said Nguyen. “That helped me to be able to play more pots.”
In the arena, with friends in the audience, it took a bit for Nguyen to adjust to the stage.
“I was a little nervous for the first thirty minutes of the show,” Nguyen admitted. “I was kind of cold too, and I didn’t bring a jacket,” he laughed. “Newb move there. But once I won the first all in, it was just like any other poker game.”
Bulletproof against a devastating chop
Nguyen played a massive pot against eventual heads-up opponent Salunga that might have thrown most people off their game.
Nguyen raised the 6d5d from the button. Salunga called in the big blind with Qs5c.
The turn showed up 3d2dAh, giving Nguyen a combo draw. Salunga checked, and Nguyen bet. Salunga came along with a call.
The turn brought the dream 4h, giving both players a straight, but Nguyen had the higher one. Salunga led out on the turn, which was music to Nguyen’s ears. Nguyen raised with the nuts, praying Salunga had a straight himself.
Salunga did, and he couldn’t get away. He moved all in and Nguyen made the call. Nearly 9,000,000 chips were in the middle, which would have been good for the chip lead at the time.
“I need a non-diamond six,” said Salunga.
On cue, the 6h showed up the river to bring in a dramatic chopped pot, and leaving Nguyen wondering what could have been.
“I had to recoup myself and leave that one behind me, just go play poker again,” said Nguyen. “It was a tough moment to overcome, but once I did I was good to go.”
A hero isn’t motivated by glory or fame
Nguyen, and his name-inspiring Clark Kent Funko Pop figurine, have made appearances on all sorts of social media platforms long before this big score.
“Suited Superman was a poker blog I started doing while playing poker,” said Nguyen. “My followers enjoyed the poker discussion, the hands, the traveling, the food, everything. I was inspired by people encouraging me to keep doing it. A lot of people have told me they play poker because they see my success. If I can bring more people to poker, I’ll keep doing it.”
I have a feeling a big score like this will only garner more respect and admiration from those who follow Nguyen’s career and channels.
Congratulations to Ky Nguyen on his biggest tournament score ever. He gets his names engraved on the Mike Sexton Champions Cup, the Daniel Arsham-designed trophy, and a winner’s belt. I hope you’re driving back to L.A, because that’s a lot of hardware to take through the airport.
What am I talking about? Suited Superman is definitely flying home.
All photos credit: WPT