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Poker Stories: Legendary Table Talk

“You call, it’s gonna be all over baby!”

These words continue to ring down through poker history as one of the most iconic bits of table talk. They come from Scotty Nguyen, aka “The Prince of Poker”, during the final table of the 1998 World Series of Poker. As you’ll see, it just goes to show how much words matter in this game, especially if you’re able to get under your opponent’s skin.

Scotty Nguyen is an easily recognizable poker pro because of his flamboyant style and outgoing character. Between the gold chains and his penchant for calling everyone “baby,” it’s no surprise that this hall-of-famer was able to run such a sick play.

Scotty Nguyen at the 1998 WSOP. (Credit: Lennox McLendon)

The Story

At the final table of the ‘98 WSOP, Nguyen is heads-up against Kevin McBride, playing for the bracelet, glory, and one million dollars. Nguyen is holding Jd9c and McBride has QhTh. McBride bets pre-flop, and Nguyen calls.

The flop brings 8c9d9h, giving Nguyen a set of trips. He checks to McBride, who fires a continuation bet. After some thought and asking for McBride’s stack size, Nguyen puts in the call.

The turn brings 8h, so now Nguyen holds the full house and McBride has a flush draw. The action is the same: Nguyen checks, McBride bets, and Nguyen calls.

When the 8s comes on the river, the crowd goes crazy seeing that there’s a full house just sitting on the board. Without a second thought, Nguyen pushes all his chips into the pot and says “All in” as he stands up, takes a drag of his cigarette, and holds his beer up.

As McBride begins to think it over, Nguyen exhales the smoke and says, “You call, it’s gonna be all over baby.”

By McBride's own admission, this bit of table talk convinced him to call, as he figured that Nguyen was trying to bluff him off of the hand. After all, they were probably going to chop the pot if he called, so Nguyen’s bet was basically free. “I wouldn’t have called the bet,” says McBride. “The only thing is, Nguyen said ‘if you call it, it’s all over.’ I didn’t think he was telling me the truth. He was. It’s all over. It was a great play by Scotty.”

McBride called, saying, “I play the board.” He then asked, “You have a nine?” There was nothing left but for Nguyen to show him the bad news: nines full of eights beats eights full of nines!

It was, indeed, all over. And that’s how you win the mind games.


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