Seven turned out to be the lucky number for the poker player known as "The Master."
Men Nguyen of Bell Gardens, Calif., won the 41st World Series of Poker's first $10,000 buy-in event early Sunday morning, when he topped a field of 150 players to capture the Seven-Card Stud World Championship at the Rio.
The victory earned Nguyen his seventh World Series of Poker championship bracelet, tying him with Hall of Fame inductee Bill Baxter and Phil Ivey for sixth place among those with the most career World Series of Poker victories.
It has also been seven years since Nguyen captured his last bracelet.
"This is very, very big for me," Nguyen said following his victory. "The last two bracelets I won were in 2003, and now it's 2010. I have not won any bracelets because a lot of people have come into our poker world. I haven't won because it's kind of hard now. It's hard to break through."
Nguyen's victory was worth a paycheck of $394,807. A native of Vietnam, Nguyen was one of poker's most dominant players during the 1990s. He has cashed in more than 100 major tournaments and won several distinguished titles.
Nguyen, 55, was born in Phan Thiet, Vietnam, and immigrated to the United States in 1978, three years after the fall of South Vietnam . Nguyen escaped his native homeland on a boat, which made its way to Malaysia. He was granted political asylum in the United States.
"Every time I make a speech or get into an interview, I want to thank the United States of America for giving me this chance," Nguyen said.
Before this win, Nguyen's gold bracelet victories came in Seven-Card Stud (1992); Limit Hold'em (1995); Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split (1995); Limit Omaha High-Low Split (1996); Seven-Card Stud (2003); Limit Triple-Draw (2003).
Nguyen has won almost $2.2 million at the World Series of Poker in his career. He has cashed out in events 67 times, which ranks second on the tournament's all-time list. Phil Hellmuth, the 1989 world poker champion and owner of a record 11 gold bracelets, has the most event cashes at 76.
Nguyen is also tied with T.J. Cloutier with 38 final table appearances. Hellmuth is the all-time leader with 40.
Nguyen's victory came in the 10th event of the 57-event World Series of Poker, which runs through July 17.
Brandon Adams of Pensacola, Fla., was runner-up and he collected $243,958. The final table also included Michael Mizrachi of Mirimar, Fla., and Russian Vladimir Schmelev. They became the first two players at this year's World Series of Poker to make multiple final table appearances.
They finished one-two in the $50,000 buy-in Poker Players Championship, which ended five days earlier with Mizrachi winning the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy, plus almost $1.6 million.
Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz @reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871.