Loose or tight? Watch this interview with Rui Cao, Wai Kin Yong and Paul Phua

Paul Phua introduces the latest in a series of “In Conversation With Paul Phua” videos, in which the thrilling young poker pros Rui Cao and Wai Kin Yong discuss how to improve your game

How long would you play poker for in a single session? Eight hours? Twelve? Fifteen?
Try 40 or 50 hours!
As you will see in this three-way video interview between myself and the brilliant young players Rui Cao and Wai Kin Yong, we often used to play for two days and nights without stopping. We don’t do that so much anymore, but a round-the-clock game is still pretty common. As we say in the video, one skill you definitely need to develop as a player is stamina!
As I think comes across in this video, when you play poker together for such long periods, you develop a kind of bond, a friendship. But you also develop an awareness of each other’s strengths and weaknesses – and, if you are a good player, you will become conscious of your own.

Rui Cao admits in this interview that one of his weaknesses is playing too loose, wanting to show the table who is boss. “I think it’s an ego problem,” he says.
Then again, it’s also what makes Rui Cao one of France’s most exciting players. It’s six years since Rui Cao first came out to Macau to test himself in the high-stakes cash game against some of the world’s top poker pros (poker players call it “The Big Game”), and I could tell he was instantly drawn to the thrill of those huge pots of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
As for Wai Kin Yong, he admits his weakness is probably being too “sticky”: “I always find the hands to call,” he says in the video.
Is that a bad thing? Well, on the one hand it’s exciting to make that “hero call”, where you call down a bluff with just Ace high. But on the other hand, if you don’t learn when to lay down a hand, even a hand as good as two pairs, you will lose a lot of money over time. You must ask yourself: are you calling because you’ve thought through the action on every street, and you really think the other person is bluffing? Or is it because your ego won’t let you back down, or you can’t stand not knowing and must see the other person’s cards? It’s something I think you learn as you get older: the patience and humility to fold, and to wait for a better spot further down the line where you are more certain of making money from the hand.
That said, Wai Kin Yong is an exceptional player for one so young. You could say it runs in the family: his father is my friend, the businessman Richard Yong. But Wai Kin Yong also very much has his own style, and has been doing very well in live tournaments. Last September he won the Triton Charity Tournament in Manila, and then just two months later the Triton Super High Roller Series Main Event as well. This February he finished sixth in the Triton Super High Roller Series Main Event. These three pay-outs were together worth more than $3 million!
So it was a pleasure to be able to sit down with these two excellent players, and talk about poker for this video. I hope you enjoy it, and pick up some tips for improving your own playing style.
It’s your decision whether to play loose or tight, aggressively or by trapping other players into making a mistake. Whatever works for you, whatever suits your personality, style and the dynamics of the table you’re on.
But the one thing I think you can definitely take away from this video interview is that good players are always talking about poker with other good players: comparing notes on hands and playing styles, working out what they can learn from each other and how they can play better in future. If you can do this, the next big tournament winner could be you!
Enjoyed this video? Subscribe to the Paul Phua Poker School YouTube channel so you don’t miss the rest in this series. It’s free!