An Interview with Kou Vang


Fox – Congratulations on joining the pro team at Running Aces, is this your first endorsement deal?

Kou – I’ve had multiple talks with poker sites and apparel companies in the past but nothing has worked out. I’m happy that my first deal is with my favorite card room!

Fox – You’ve been traveling to play poker tournaments around the country for almost ten years now, so you’ve been to a ton of poker rooms. What makes Running Aces stand out?

Kou – Running Aces stands out because they like to give back to the players with comps, a great structure, and low juice on their tournaments. I believe they are 2nd to none in the industry in these categories.

Fox – I know you have a nice trophy display in your home and you take a lot of pride in all of your accomplishments. What is your proudest moment in poker? 

Kou – Yes i do, are you are correct. I take great pride in it because of the sacrifices I’ve made to make this my career. Here is an example. Back in 2008, two weeks after having my first child, I left my wife and kid at home with the intent to get my son a wsop ring in Council Bluffs, Iowa. I was able to achieve that. It was an unbelievable feeling and my wife was not quite as mad since i brought home some bacon.

Fox – Are you primarily self taught, or did you take lessons and read books to develop your style? 

Kou – I was one of the cheap skates that couldn’t afford books so i went to Barnes and Noble to read for free at first. I think I am an aggressive person by nature and none of the nitty earlier poker books ever fit me. I pretty much had to go through all the trials and turbulence of the ultra aggressive online game to develop my style.

Fox – Who are your favorite players and who did you learn from?

Kou – I don’t think I’ve ever had a favorite poker player, but I’ve definitely played with some very tough guys. Shawn Buchanan, Sorel Mizzi and Kurt Jewels. Those three constantly applies pressure and you have to be alert at all times. Coming up in the poker world I watched John “Gstacks” Hayes a lot online and played with him nightly. Two of my best friends Mike “Rusostreet” Carusso and John “razorpoker” Razor were very successful when we we all came up. And i trolled them nightly as well!

Fox – What are your plans for the next few months? Any big events on the horizon?

Kou – I’ve been away from home too much this year. I have three kids, and I like to spend more time at home. Its really tough to go a whole week without seeing them. I’m just gonna grind all the local stuff till January then we’ll write down a line up for 2014.

Fox – As a pro, I know you have been through all of the ups and downs of supporting a family and grinding out a living at the tables. What is the toughest part of being a poker pro? 

Kou – Yes you are correct. I’ve had many ups and downs in my career. When you go on a big winning streak you tend to take money for granted and when you go on a bad losing streak u feel like you could never win again. Sometimes winning doesn’t even feel good but more of a relief. The toughest part of this career is keeping focus and grinding away every session understanding nothing is guaranteed. The months you make a lot money, you may have to keep some for next month just like a commission job. I treat this as if it’s my own business, down to every flop, turn and, river.

Fox –  What do you do outside of poker? 

Kou – I’m a father of three, so that keeps me pretty busy. I also help my parents with our Hmong mall on Maryland and Johnson Parkway, HMONG VILLAGE. Tons of great Asian food there.

Fox – Have you ever played cash games or do you prefer to stick with tournaments exclusively? 

Kou – I do play cash games from time to time, but nothin’ beats the feeling of investing $50 into a tournament to win 45k in one day!  Or $10 online to win $50k.

Fox – You’ve been on a great run lately. Have you done anything to change your game or was it just your time to shine?

Kou – Throughout this year I’ve talked a ton with some of my closest poker friends. John Hayes, Jared Koppel, Jason Smith , and Levi Berger who won a wsop bracelet this summer. In the past, I’ve probably been playing too fast and taking too many mediocre spots. All of us has been working really hard and debating daily to see what our best options are on any given situation. I would like to get my game up to world-class level.

Fox – Thanks for taking the time and welcome to the team. 

Kou – Thanks for the interview, I’m excited to join team Running Aces.

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  1. #1 by Fox on September 30, 2013 - 9:17 pm

    A lot of nights I’m not sure myself Robbie. The games are definitely tougher here than in most other places, which is why guys like Kou and I both travel quite a bit. Everywhere we go, the games seem to be softer than they are at home!

  2. #2 by robowolfman on September 30, 2013 - 8:57 pm

    With that many great players in one spot, playing the same tournaments and cash games. How on earth do any of you make any money?

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