LAS VEGAS — Poker professional Scotty Nguyen won nearly $2 million at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas on Monday, topping a field of 148 players and emerging from a marathon final table with his fifth gold bracelet.
Nguyen beat out 23-year-old Michael DeMichele in H.O.R.S.E., a rotating-game tournament that cost $50,000 to enter.
The various games and limited betting structure reward all around play and is said to truly reward the best players over the long haul. Along with the main event, many players consider H.O.R.S.E. the most important tournament in the World Series of Poker.
"Scotty Nguyen's gonna be triple crown, baby!" Nguyen said after posing at the made-for-TV final table with thick stacks of $100 bills and his newly won bracelet. "That's my dream."
The 45-year-old Nguyen, who won $1 million at the series' main event in 1998, said he hoped to also win the main event this year and the series' player of the year award to complete his dream run.
Nguyen won the final hand Monday at limit Hold 'em, pushing DeMichele all in with an ace and a 10. DeMichele, far behind in chips, called with an ace and a three, and Nguyen's 10 gave him the win when both players paired their aces. DeMichele won $1.24 million for his second place finish.
"I guess I'll have to live with being that guy," said DeMichele of Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Nguyen said it felt good to break through and win his first gold bracelet since 2001.
"I'm gonna make Phil Hellmuth squirm," he said, referring to the World Series of Poker record holder with 11 bracelets.
H.O.R.S.E., which stands for five games of poker played in rotation _ Hold 'em, Omaha, Razz, Stud and Eight or Better _ tests the all-around player more than the No Limit Hold 'em game, which was born in Texas and has become the most popular poker game worldwide.
The event was also played with betting limits, meaning dramatic "all-ins" were eliminated in favor of skills demonstrated over longer sessions of play.
Nguyen started the final table Sunday with the second-highest chip stack among a tough field that included DeMichele and poker professionals Erick Lindgren, Barry Greenstein and Huck Seed.
Lindgren, DeMichele and Nguyen were mired in a three-way battle for most of the wee hours, with Matt Glantz busting out in fourth place shortly before 11 p.m. Sunday.
Lindgren wasn't eliminated until 4:30 a.m. Monday, when his pair of eights lost to Nguyen's pair of nines.
"What are you going to do," Lindgren said after finishing third and winning $781,440.
DeMichele was out about a half-hour later, unable to overcome Nguyen's overpowering chip stack.
"After E-dog's gone, everything's just like a walk through the park," Nguyen said. "Nobody's going to stop me. This is what I want, baby."
(This version CORRECTS number of bracelets won by Hellmuth)