The waiting is over for Scotty Nguyen and Tom McEvoy. On Sunday night, both former main event champions were inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in front of a group of family, friends and colleagues. Just a short walk away from where the November Nine will battle on Monday, Nguyen and McEvoy spoke about this pinnacle of their career and proved that even if you are lucky enough to become world champion, that alone doesn't merit induction into poker's most elite club.
Nguyen and McEvoy became the 45th and 46th members of the Hall, both boasting careers that spanned decades and included a long list of accomplishments. Their records shout consistency and proved they could compete against the game's best in a variety of games. On top of everything else, they've earned the respect of their peers to earn their spots in the Poker Hall of Fame.
Nguyen's journey included a cross-ocean journey to the United States as a child. The Vietnam-born pro had essentially nothing when he arrived in the States and eventually found his niche in the game that he loves with all his heart. He went from being a casino employee, to dealer, to player and now member of the Hall of Fame with $11.7 million in lifetime tournament earnings. He won the 1998 WSOP main event and the 2008 $50,000 HORSE champion, the only player to have won both of the industry's premier events, plus three other bracelets and a WPT title. He's always outgoing for fans, willing to smile for any photo and ready to help out for charity when asked.
"Being yourself, you go a long way. That's how I got here," Nguyen said. "This is something I never dreamed of. Growing up in Vietnam, there's no Hall of Fame there. No matter what you do. If you had three meals a day, you're very happy. Now when I came here, America has given me the opportunity to become who I am today. Being in the Hall of Fame is something I never dreamed about. I never thought it was possible."
It's time to believe it, Scotty.
McEvoy's legacy revolves around his success, integrity and dedication to a game. His daughter spoke about how he learned to play the game in Michigan and decided that he would leave his profession as an accountant and pursue his own dreams of becoming a poker player. With a sign that read "Vegas or Bust" on their car, his family made the trek and he found success on the felt for the next three decades.
The 1983 WSOP main event champion simply loves poker and it's clear by those who spoke on his behalf, including fellow Hall of Famer T.J. Cloutier, that his efforts have not gone unnoticed. In addition to his nearly $3 million in earnings, McEvoy led the initiative that prohibited smoking in card rooms and wrote 14 books that shaped poker strategy. He may not always get the biggest chunk of the spotlight, but those in the industry understand just what he has meant to everyone who has ever sat down at the felt.
"I'm on top of the world," McEvoy said. "Next to winning the main event, this is the most important thing that has ever happened to me in my poker career. It's validation."
McEvoy and Nguyen were voted in by the group of living poker Hall of Famers as well as a group of select poker media. Up to two players can be inducted each year.