Sofia Lövgren: How to improve your live game

888poker pro Sofia Lövgren is here to answer all of your poker problems. Email us at pokerplayer@plyp.co.uk or tweet @PokerPlayer365 now!

Get the steins!

I was playing in the PKR Oktoberfest main event and opened from mid-position with Kings. The player behind called, as did the big blind. The flop came Q-J-9 rainbow. The big blind checked and I bet half the pot with a stack of 30BBs. The player behind shoved all-in for 68BBs and the big blind folded.  

I folded my Kings and showed the table – almost everyone started abusing me saying how bad I was. I put my opponent on a two-pair type hand or a big draw and was not happy on such a wet board, even though I did have a gutshot draw as well. To me this was a standard fold. Is my logic way off?
Paul Massie

This depends on which tournament it is and what stage you’re at. It’s not terrible to fold K-K in this situation. On the bubble in a tournament it’s a clear fold.

When the guy shoves 68BBs on this board it looks very much like a newbie move with a two pair hand like J-9, Q-J, or even a set of Nines. If there was a flush draw on the flop it would have been a clear call instead! I think it’s 50/50 whether you call or fold here.

Life lessons

I’m currently teaching a friend how to play live poker. Do you have any suggestions?
@Wheres_The_Hat

One of the best ways to learn is to watch videos from live events where they show the hole cards, especially when they have expert commentators. If you want to learn from the best the High Rollers are great to watch. I also enjoyed watching the WSOP Main Event where you could follow how they played from 100 players down to the winner.

New lines

I play a lot of cash games but I find that I very rarely check-raise the flop when I am the initial raiser. Do you think this is something that I should add to my games and what type of situations is it good to check-raise in?
Chris Fowles

The standard play is to continuation bet when you are the initial raiser, but when you are in a multi-way pot on a wet board with a strong hand, such as a set, two pair or a monster draw, check-raising is sometimes the perfect play. 

You don’t want to call with a draw out of position, and you want to charge your opponents if they have a draw. It’s also smart to build the pot so you can play for stacks if you hit on the turn.

It’s important that you balance this and sometimes make the same move with a weaker hand so you’re not predictable.

New goals

I had a decent 2014 but want to improve on it in 2015. I keep hearing that setting goals is important but I don’t really know how to start. Do you set goals for yourself at the beginning of the year and what are they going to be this time?
Angela Smyth

It’s always possible to find quantitative goals like hands played, average hours per day grinding and so on. I also think it’s important to define improvement areas in your poker game to focus on, like four-betting light more frequently. By having these kind of targets you could always follow up when you are on the right track and feel good about your month even without big winnings. More importantly, you could also be more realistic about a winning period where you were lazy but just lucky. If you have a quite stable winning rate and grind big volume you could actually decide how much you want to win and break it down into grinding hours per day.

I usually set a goal of playing a certain amount of cash game hands online and I will have this goal for 2015 too. Another goal is to reach a final table in a major live tournament to give myself the chance to play for a big title. I also plan to be more active in the gym.

Mid-stack mayhem

I tend to struggle to know what to do with hands like Q-J, K-T and so on when I have around 20BBs in a tournament. If someone opens and I am in the big blind should I shove or call and see a flop?  
Liam King

How to play these hands in the big blind depends on the position the initial raiser opened. If it was in early or mid-position I would suggest folding unless it was a very loose player! If someone opens in late position you can shove all-in. You should almost never call with this stack size.


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