Sofia Lovgren: Making the move from MTTs to cash

888poker pro Sofia Lovgren is here to answer all of your poker problems. Got a question for her? Email us at pokerplayer@plyp.co.uk or tweet @pokerplayer365 now!

Spin the wheel

I’ve been playing the new Spin & Gos on PokerStars, but they’re driving me crazy. I had a good run when I started off, but for the past couple of months I’ve been breaking even. I’m on a pretty bad run but I’m also aware that these must have a huge amount of variance as you’re getting it all-in so often. Do you think it’s possible to win in the long-term in games like this?
Howard Craig

You just said it! The variance in Spin & Gos is incredibly high, because there is so much luck involved compared to deeper stacked poker. You need to play thousands of Spin & Gos to be able to draw relevant conclusions about winning rates. Some pros like them because of all the recreational players they attract, but I think they’re more like a fun lottery than a skill game.

Party Poker

When I started playing poker everyone seemed to have fun playing. They’d have a few beers and the tables would be full of people having a good time. Now I keep reading about healthy living – drinking water, eating good food and getting lots of sleep. It might be a coincidence but now people seem much more serious. What do you think? Is there still a place for a beer and a laugh at the poker table?
Dan Cohen

It’s true that the new poker generation are living a more healthy lifestyle. My Swedish colleague and new world champ, Martin Jacobson, is just one example. You need to be sharp to make good decisions and limit the mistakes you make when you’re playing for hours on end. At the higher stakes it’s just too tough to give other players an edge because you’re hungover or tired. You see this development in all sports as they get more professional and the money gets bigger. I think it’s good for poker if it’s going to be respected as the ultimate mind game.

This doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time chatting to the other guys around the table though. You really have time to get to know other people and make new friends if you’re open-minded.

If you want to have more fun when you’re playing poker, just arrange some home games with friends and you’ll have plenty of time to have a drink and a laugh!

Cash Up

I’ve been reading your advice about playing ring games if you want to seriously work on increasing your bankroll. The trouble is, every time I start playing them I keep losing. I’m a small winner at tournaments lifetime, but it’s not enough to live on and I’d really like to give being a pro player a go. Have you got a few tips for someone moving from MTTs to cash? 
Tim Harmon

To make a living from cash games, you need to play mid-stakes or higher where you’ll also find tough regs. You need to be a very good poker player to win here, so before taking the decision to play poker full time you should consistently be winning more per hour than you make in an ordinary job. Until then I’d advise you to treat poker as a hobby that sometimes gives you a bit of bonus income.

My experience is that it’s easier for a good cash game player to be successful in tournaments than for good tourney players to win in cash games. Here are some of the adjustments you’ll need to make if you want to be successful:

  • You often have 100-300BBs and you play a lot more postflop in cash games, so you have to develop that part of your game. It’s fun because you have room to play creatively and make more moves. As the blinds stay the same in cash games, you never have to worry about blinding down.
  • Implied odds become very important – you get great odds in cash games to set mine and play suited connectors, in order to hit straights and flushes. • In cash games you sometimes sit with the same players for hours, whereas in tournaments you switch tables quite often. Make sure you study how your opponents play and take notes. If you don’t do it already start playing with a HUD. Almost all regulars are using one these days in order to understand their opponent’s style and to find weaknesses they can exploit.

Back to school

How do you keep improving your game? Do you still read strategy books or watch training videos? Or do you just talk to friends and discuss hands that you’ve played?
D Spiers

I’m mostly self-educated from playing millions of hands online, but poker is developing all the time and if you don’t improve you’ll soon be a losing player.

I do watch poker online and I especially like to watch the big live tournaments where you see the hole cards. I also watch coaching videos made by top pros and often discuss tricky hands with other poker players. Besides playing a lot, sharing poker knowledge with better poker players is the best way to improve quickly.

Vegas Virgin

Are you going to the WSOP this year? If so, what tournaments are you thinking of playing? Is there one that you’d recommend to a WSOP-virgin? I can’t afford any of the big buy-ins but would love to try and win a bracelet.
Jerome Tate

I’m definitely going to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker this year – I can’t wait! The schedule looks really good, with deeper structures in all of the side events, which is new for this year. I’m planning on playing several of the WSOP NLHE events as well as the Main Event.

If it’s your first time, I’d suggest going to Las Vegas at the beginning of the WSOP, because there are some lower buy-in tournaments like the Millionaire Maker, the Monster stack and the new $565 Colossus, which I think is going to be huge. With the low buy-in and a guarantee of $5 million it could be the biggest WSOP tournament ever – I would be surprised if it draws 12,000 players!

The combination of the massive starting fields, decent buy-ins, huge prize pools and all the recreational players, make these events the best value of any poker tournaments right now. If you’ve got the chance to get out and play in them I’d definitely recommend it!


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