Sofia Lovgren is ‘In the Tank’: Take a shot at higher levels but don’t be rude!

888poker pro Sofia Lovgren is here to answer all of your poker problems. Email us at pokerplayer@plyp.co.uk or Tweet @pokerplayer365 now!

Take a shot

I play in a regular £1/£2 cash game at my local casino but the other night there was a really good £2/£5 game running. I knew I was probably a favourite in the game so I decided to give it a shot but I couldn’t relax and play as I normally would – the money was always on my mind. I’ve read your advice for a while now and I know you say ‘don’t play with scared money’ but I’d like to be able to move up a level if the game’s good. Are there any tactics you can suggest to make the transition? Jonathan A

I think it’s an essential part of a poker player’s development to take occasional shots on higher levels. So, you should absolutely do it when you have momentum and find good games. Just don’t forget to move back down and stick to your bankroll management plan once the session is over.

As you just experienced, you might feel quite uncomfortable for a while or sometimes even for several sessions, but that’s standard when you’re stepping up a level. The downside is that your decision making process could be affected for the worse until you get used to the game. However, since game and table selection is a key to playing winning poker, it can also be very pro table. I’ll never forget when I took my first shots at $5/10 live and in a few sessions won more than a good month of grinding online on lower levels.

It’s all about experience and getting used to the games. The more you play at the higher level the more con dent you’ll be in your game. Try to see the session as a game with chips and blinds rather than thinking of it as big money.

Play the game

I read about the Girl Got Game TV show that you’re playing in a few issues ago. It sounds great! How is it going and is there any way I can watch any of the action? J Christen

The pre-production for the show is going well. We’re going to showcase eight girls playing cash games and competing in different challenges in Los Angeles, Manila and Las Vegas. We will begin streaming online worldwide (where available), around mid-May. We’re also aiming for international broadcasting right after that. There’s no official information about TV channels, broadcasting dates, etc, but I’ll let you know in these pages as soon as I can.

Name that tune

Do you listen to music when you play live? One of the biggest problems I have playing MTTs is getting bored and keeping my focus and concentration levels up. I don’t listen to music though as I think I might miss crucial information round the table. Where do you stand on that? SpencerB

I do listen to music sometimes but never at the beginning of a tournament. First of all it’s a great opportunity to get to know new players and get a first opinion of their experience and skill level. It would also feel a bit rude not to talk to anyone, just sitting there with my earphones on. Playing long days of live poker is exhausting so talking to players will keep you entertained and in a good mood. It’s the best way to stay sharp during a tournament. Most importantly, as you already recognised, you will have a much better feeling for what’s going on round the table so I suggest you keep skipping the earphones. AND, don’t spend too much time on your smartphone which is even worse, from a concentration and focus point of view.

Punish the limpers

I’ve started playing more live cash games and they seem to favour lots of limpers, with loads of pots playing out four or five handed. If I try to isolate it seems they all call anyway, so I’m not sure whether I should be trying to isolate or just getting used to playing more post op in multi-way pots. Is it worth trying to increase my isolation raises? Paven

If you have a table full of limp/calling stations I would suggest you tighten up a bit and raise big with your premium hands. It would be great to check out what kind of hands they are limping with. Once you have seen some of their hands at showdown you can adapt your game to that. If they limp hands like K-5, then keep isolating with hands like Q-To and K-9ss in position. If you see someone who is limping in with A-Q, then you just need to be careful when that player calls you down since you will often be outkicked. When you have small pocket pairs and there are limpers before you, limping in is fine. If you are very deep stacked I would prefer a raise though because when you hit a set you want to win a big pot.

Card dead

I played a live tournament recently where I was completely card dead from about halfway through. I had about 15BBs and didn’t get above that for the next few hours, but got past the bubble and laddered up some more spots. In total I outlasted about 15 other people without getting any cards. The table thought I was playing ultra-tight but I just wasn’t getting anything and it rarely came to me without a raise. Is this a tactic you’d use or would you be more willing to gamble? Kaz

I think every single poker player recognises this feeling! How you should play depends on the players at your table (if they are tight or loose, passive or aggressive), stack sizes and payouts.

You should try to look for spots when you can three-bet all-in and steal some chips. Any steal is very valuable for your stack. If late position opens, you can shove all-in with a hand like T-9ss in the SB for example. It has a lot of potential even if you get called.

Remember that a few places higher or lower on the payout board won’t make a big difference. So it’s worth taking some risks to maintain your stack, make a comeback, and try to aim for the final table where the big money is. Martin Jacobson, the 2014 WSOP Main Event Champ 2014 showed how to play a short stack to perfection on the final table. Watch him in action here:

The big one

I’ve noticed 888poker has started running satellites to the WSOP Main Event. I’m going to give it a try this year – it’s a tournament I’ve always wanted to play. Have you got any advice for tackling online satellites? Dan Knight

I don’t play a lot of satellites myself but click here for a great article I read the other day, with some great advice.


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