PokerWomenNews caught up with Canadian poker player Thi Nguyen (aka Tea Newyen), who’s had great success at the Playground Poker Club. At the start of September this year the 26-year old poker pro finished third in the Playground Poker Montreal Festival Main Event for C$89,700. Just one month later Nguyen won the Venetian Deepstack Extravaganza Main Event for $120,561.
We were curious to get to know this young Canadian a bit better and find out why she’s been so successful over the last year.
How did you get introduced to the game of poker, and when did you play your first live event?
“I started out as a waitress at a friends home game in 2010, but eventually wanted to learn. I’ve been playing NL cash games on and off since then. My first live tournament was in 2012 at Niagra Fallsview Classic. It didn’t go so well, I think I ended up being the bubble girl. I remember being really upset, and I stopped playing for a while after that. Instead I started to study the game by reading books, watching online videos, discussing hands with friends, correcting any previous errors and learning from my mistakes. I decided to give it another shot early this year in February. I tried the WPT Fallsview Classic again and I made it to my first final table [Nguyen finished in 8th place for C$32,496]. That’s when I knew my hard work had paid off. I didn’t want it to end, so I kept going, and I think that is why I am where I am today”.
Do you prefer tournaments over cash games?
“I just started playing live tournaments this year and I love it. I think my style of play is better in tournaments. I also play a lot of cash games as well. I am currently playing 2/5 NL”.
Are you grinding online as well?
“I’ve never took online seriously. That is something I possibly want to get into next year, but I like the feeling of having chips in front of me. I like to play live games and interact with other players. It’s a social life style for me at the same time”.
You’ve had a pretty sick year winning nearly $250,000. You finished 3rd in the Playground PokerClub Montreal Festival Main Event and your won the Venetian Deepstack Main Event. Can you tell us a little about your year so far?
“It has been a blessing. I think when you want something so bad, nothing can stop you. It happened in February this year for me. I knew right then and there I wanted to make more final tables. I always want to improve and do better. I knew I was passionate about poker and I couldn’t be more happy to find something I love and make it my paycheck. I had a great run this year, and I think it had a lot to do with my first tournament in 2012. I took it as an experience and a lesson. It motivated me. I decided to never again play the way I did back then. I had so much more to learn and I still have a lot to learn now. When they told me, I was the first woman to win the Venetian Deepstack, I was over the moon. It was an amazing feeling. I’ll keep striving for more moments like that”.
Why do you think, you have been so successful so quick? What are your forces at the table?
“I think it has a lot to do with my determination. I like to write down my goals and this might sound crazy, but I give myself daily affirmation, because it helps me to believe more in myself. I just want to do better and better each time. I don’t want to be just “good”, I want to be freaking amazing”, Nguyen says with a smile. “Once I sit down at a table, I try to take in as much information and details on all the players as I can. Their body language, the information they give to each other, their knowledge on poker, any signs of weakness, the way they bet their hands etc. All of that I take in and then I pick my spots, and I love to apply pressure. Its fun, poker is so much fun”.
How is the poker scene in Canada?
“So far, amazing. I am proud and happy to be a Canadian female poker player. I’ve met a lot of amazing people in the poker circuit. And in Canada you don’t get tax on your winnings!”
How do you feel being a woman in a very male dominated poker world? And very often the only woman at the table? Maria Ho said, she feels it’s an advantage, because nobody thinks she is bluffing. Do you feel so too?
“It feels natural to me to be honest. I’m very comfortable playing and competing with guys. It’s honestly a bit awkward for me, when I play against other women”, Nguyen says with a smile. “I agree with Maria Ho. I take full advantage”.
What is it with you and your mother? You brought your mother with you to Las Vegas. Is she a bit of a gambler as well? And how has your family responded to you playing poker?
“I am very lucky and I feel very blessed. My family is my biggest support system. They are so proud, and it makes me so happy. I couldn’t ask for more. I took my mother to Las Vegas, because I go back and forth a lot to play. She always wanted to go. She likes to gamble a bit. Nothing too crazy though. She plays poker almost every weekend with my dad and their friends at home. I’m sure they have no idea what they are doing, but they are just having a good time”, Nguyen says laughing.
What are your plans for the near future?
“Travel and play poker. Business and pleasure. Next year I think, I have to step up my game and play in the WSOP. I hope I do well. I hope to pull off something crazy in the end of this year. Hopefully I can for WPT in Montreal. I am so excited for this event coming up”.
We have yet to see a woman winning an open WPT Main Event (that is not a regional or national WPT event). Thi Nguyen certainly has the determination and the drive to go deep, so stay tuned, when Nguyen is playing Day 1B on Friday.