The latest Paul Phua Poker School video interview is with French poker pro Rui Cao. Paul Phua explores the lessons to be learned
Rui Cao, the subject of this new video profile for the Paul Phua Poker School, is recognised as one of the best poker players in France. I first played against him six years ago, when he came to Macau to play in the high-stakes cash game known in poker circles as “the Big Game”. Rui Cao is an aggressive, risk-taking player, and he loved the excitement of these huge pots. Anyone who can thrive in such a high-pressure situation, where even the most experienced players can be at risk of losing their bankroll, deserves respect.
In his previous video interview for the Paul Phua Poker School, discussing aggression in poker with myself and Wai Kin Yong, Rui Cao admitted that he sometimes plays a little too loose: “It’s an ego problem,” he said. So this time we asked him what he considers the most important attributes for success in poker.
“I think being smart is a good point,” Rui Cao says in the new video interview, “and being able to learn fast is similar, to adjust fast to the game. Other than that, some human factors as well like discipline, patience, the ability to control ourselves, I think mostly.”
How not to go on tilt
I very much agree with him on this last point. In fact, I wrote a blog about this a few months ago. Even if you have total mastery of poker strategy and poker odds, you will still be a losing player if you don’t have the patience and discipline to apply the theory in practice. What is the point of knowing the best starting hands, for instance, if you get bored of folding and start to play everything you are dealt?
Part of not going “on tilt” is developing a philosophical attitude to the game. Yes, you got unlucky this time. But the longer you play, the more luck evens out. You get unlucky sometimes, you get lucky sometimes. If you make the right decisions, over time you will be a winner. So don’t let temporary setbacks affect you.
When asked in this interview how he deals with losing, Rui Cao says, “Quite OK. I just sleep for 15 hours and try to forget!” The swings in poker, he says, “are just part of the game”. The one thing you can do, he adds, is to examine whether any of the hands you lost were the result of bad play rather than bad luck. “I try to improve my game and losing is part of the game, I would say.”
An epic struggle with Isildur1
Rui Cao originally made his name playing Omaha, which can have even greater swings than Texas Hold ’Em. Asked which of his many matches was the most memorable, he recalls one marathon PLO session against Viktor Blom, better known under his online name “Isildur1” as one of the most skilled, aggressive and feared online players of all.
“We were four-tabling,” Rui Cao recalls in the video interview, “and maybe at one point I was down 30 buy-ins or something, and two hours later I was up like 30 buy-ins, and it was a pretty crazy upswing. We were, like, playing crazy, and it was a really, really fun session to play in.”
I like the way Rui Cao considers this game his favourite not because he bested one of the world’s top players, or because he made a lot of money, but because it was “really, really fun”! We poker players talk a lot about strategy, and discipline, and improving our game. Of course that’s important; in fact, it’s fundamental to the Paul Phua Poker School. Without it, we would lose money. And if we lose too much money, we can no longer play.
But let us not lose sight of the reason we all took up poker in the first place: it’s just a really, really fun game to play!
More videos from the poker pros will be going live weekly on the Paul Phua Poker YouTube channel. Subscribe if you don’t want to miss out. It’s free!