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Ky “SuitedSuperman” Nguyen Talks How To Avoid Beginner PLO Mistakes

by Craig Tapscott |  Published: Oct 18, 2023

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Ky Nguyen was destined to be a gambler, growing up in Vietnam with family who would often gather to test their luck. Every Tet Holiday (Lunar New Year), Nguyen and his relatives would gamble with their LiXi (Lucky Money) and see who was the most fortunate.

With his parent’s support, Nguyen left Vietnam in 2003 to study in the United States. After finishing his undergraduate studies in Oregon, he landed an engineering job in Los Angeles. During the day he would work, at night he would work on his graduate degree, and in the little time in between, he found poker.

Poker started as just a casual hobby, something to do on his days off, but then in 2016 he took down the Liz Flynt Fall Poker Classic at Hustler Casino for $53,303. Suddenly he was hooked.

He started frequenting the Hustler Casino more regularly, and after four years he had grinded thousands of hours in the $5-$5 cash games. It was then that he launched his popular ‘SuitedSuperman’ poker blog on Instagram, interacting with thousands of poker fans while sharing updates and hand histories. Casino General Manager Shaun Yaple noticed Nguyen’s growing following and commitment to the property, adding him as an ambassador for the Hustler brand.

In May, Nguyen topped a field of 346 players in the $5,000 World Poker Tour Gardens Poker Championship, banking $357,380 and his first major title. He has pocketed nearly $1 million in live tournament winnings, the vast majority coming since 2021.

When the pandemic shut down poker rooms all over the world, Nguyen went online to pass the time with some poker study. It was there that he transitioned from no-limit hold’em to mostly pot-limit Omaha and quickly began rising the ranks. This summer he played in both the $25,000 and $50,000 PLO high rollers at the WSOP, and finished in the money in both.

Card Player caught up with Nguyen to talk about how beginning players can find their way in PLO.

Craig Tapscott: It seems the poker world has gone crazy for PLO in recent years. Not only are there record tournament fields playing out at the WSOP, but PokerGO has even dedicated an entire series to the game.

Ky Nguyen: Speaking from my own experience, I think the non-hold’em games are a lot more enjoyable to play and it feels a lot less than a grind. The environment is usually a lot more relaxing and jovial among players as decisions are made a bit quicker and more binary. Chips are being moved between players more often due to the number of big pots being played.

PLO is an equity-driven game, which attracts a lot of gamblers, action players, therefore the games are also softer. Not many people study the game of PLO before hitting the felt, so more mistakes are being made than in hold’em. The skill edges between good players and bad players are wider, yet the bad players still win pots often enough due to variance of the game that it’s more enjoyable for them to play.

CT: I know you haven’t been playing PLO for too many years, but you seemed to have grown your game very fast. Where does a player begin? What reading and training sites did you use to level up your game?

KN: You’re right, I didn’t start playing PLO at all until 2017. Luckily, I started in a very soft game where most players were also beginners to the four-card action. I also ran very well in that game, which fueled my love to study and to learn even more.

That’s the same year that I started the “SuitedSuperman” poker blog on Instagram. As I posted hand histories on there, I received a lot of valuable feedback through comments, and direct messages from more experienced players, which helped my game.

For those of you who want to start the right way, I would suggest talking to someone who you can find that has experience and a consistent win rate in the game environment that you’re in. If you don’t know anyone, I would spend a little bit on investing in some training sites such as PLO Mastermind or Run It Once to learn the game’s fundamentals from the ground up.

It is a great investment to study the game the right way and not to make costly mistakes on the felt that could lead to a discouraging feeling about the game. For me, the Advanced PLO Mastery with Dylan Weisman and Chris Wehner of Upswing Poker were the key courses that helped propel my game to another level.

CT: What are the most common mistakes new players make in the game?

KN: I think the most common mistakes that new players make in PLO have to be overplaying hands like big overpairs, especially aces. Overpairs in hold’em are often still the best hand by the river; however, in PLO, they are not as great of a hand, especially when there are multiple players in the pot.

In hold’em, aces on average is about 85 percent against any random hand, while in Omaha holding aces and two other random cards is about 65 percent favorite against any other four random cards.

New Omaha players should proceed with caution when playing aces at deep stacks and/or multiway. PLO is an equity-driven game and players tend to see flops more often, so the ability to read the board and understand ranges will help you avoid going broke with aces incorrectly.

Some other mistakes that are also common in PLO are not drawing to the nuts, playing out of position too much, and set mining with mid to low pairs.

CT: What are your bankroll recommendations for even the smaller PLO games online or live? It seems like many players just love to gamble and there will be some very wild swings. 

KN: Variance is super high in the game of PLO, as it’s a drawing game. You could lose 15-20 straight coin flips with top set vs. big combo draw very easily. The mental toughness required to handle the swing of the game is important.

It’s imperative to have proper bankroll management for any poker game, but especially in Omaha, where you should have extra cushion. I typically recommend 50-100 buy-ins for the bankroll depending on your playing styles.

Due to the constant swings, many players can go on tilt and punt off a lot of money. Understanding the huge variance of the game can give you a big edge on making the right decisions consistently despite the series of losing flips.

Yes, there is a bit of gambling and risk taking in this game, but that’s also the reason many recreational players love it. I have seen a player run up $100 into $10,000 in just 30 minutes in a $5-$5 blinds game, something that is nearly impossible to do in hold’em.

CT: What have been your biggest challenges as you slowly went up in stakes? You’re playing pretty big at $25-$50.

KY: My biggest challenge was to find good PLO games to play. There are not many entry-level live PLO games for beginners to dip their feet in the action. Some PLO enthusiasts have to move to other states in order to find games.

For me, COVID was a game changer as I was able to put a lot of volume online in soft games, which allowed me to build a bigger bankroll and to move up in stakes quickly. Then, when live poker went back to normal, I started to host games at Hustler Casino where consistent good games from $5-$5 all the way to $25-$50 blinds are being spread.

I think the key to moving up to stakes in PLO is to select the right games to play with your skill levels and don’t be afraid to take risks within your bankroll when you find a good game.  

CT: What is the best way to learn to navigate post-flop in PLO? What are some quick tips you can give?

KN: When playing live PLO at low-mid stakes, you often see the flop with multiple players, so you should try to be the one in position as much as possible and take a lot of flops in the cutoff and button position.

It is very helpful to see others act first before you and to be able to find bluff spots and to extract maximum value.

For example: You can stab more deliberately with relevant blockers in position as preflop callers when checked to on the flop like 10-3-3 with a hand as weak as 10-8-8-6. With the top pair blocker and it being unlikely someone will play a three preflop, you’re less likely to get check-raised.

Having a pair as a backup is also good because you can occasionally improve to a full house that can win a big pot vs. flopped trips. You can also have an option to check back the turn to get a free river card if getting called by what you deem as a strong range.  

Another tip that is helpful is regarding leading the flop not as the preflop aggressor on boards that favor out-of-position range. A lot of hold’em player’s habit is to check to the aggressor automatically no matter what the flops are. In PLO, leading is a very key part of the game tree, it allows you to apply pressure early on with favorable flops and take away much of the positional advantage from a preflop raiser.

A good example is if the player on the button raises, you call in the small blind, and the big blind calls as well. I am referring to flops like Q-Q-9 rainbow, Q-J-6 rainbow, where the small blind should be leading with around two-thirds of its range (smaller sizing on paired board vs. unpaired board.)

CT: What about something not-standard, like double board pots? Is there any strategy there or is it all gamble?

KN: Double board PLO bomb pot games have gotten popular in the last couple of years. It is essentially a split-pot game where strategies are similar to that of Omaha hi/lo. The goal is to make the best hand on both boards and scoop the whole pot.

Good players can capitalize on common mistakes that other players make such as betting with middling hands on both boards, and betting with vulnerable strong hands on one board and no equity on the other board. Both of those mistakes can lead to losing a lot of money.

Hand-reading skills and equity calculations are very important in this game as everyone is automatically seeing the flop every hand. You need to quickly narrow down the ranges on every action to know if you have the right equity to continue.

You can catch Nguyen on the Hustler Casino Live stream or follow him on Instagram and X @SuitedSuperman.