Sofia Lövgren: Patience is a virtue at the poker table

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Everybody hurts

I was in Vegas recently and suffered a few bad beats playing live cash and tournaments. I’m experienced at playing online and don’t really get affected by the variance, but when I’m playing live it drives me crazy! Do you have any advice on how I can cope with the swings in live poker better? I love to play live but this aspect really puts me off.
Harry Corkell

Since you’re not affected so much by the swings online, I’m sure that you can also get used to handling it live. I assume that you multi-table online where everything is so much quicker and you get to play so many more hands. Players tend to forget that live poker really is something very different from a mental point of view. You have to sit for hours without seeing a premium hand like A-A or K-K and everything gets much more dramatic when you lose a big pot, especially if you bust a live tournament.

My conclusion is that patience can’t be overrated. It’s even more important playing live. You really have to enter the tables mentally prepared to fold and fold, and wait for the right spots. You shouldn’t be surprised to bust with the best hand in ten consecutive tournaments. As long as you play well you have to remind yourself that you will win in the end.

In general not even the best players in the world will cash in more than 20% of the MTTs they play. I’m quite sure that with more live experience you will be less affected. When you’re playing cash games it’s always important to play at stakes where you can afford to lose and don’t feel too much pressure. A good way to cope with the live swings better could be to step down a little in stakes until you feel that you are among the best players at the table. You’ll still be bad-beated by the fish sometimes, but keep playing with patience and you will leave the table as a winner.

Aggressive tactics

I play a lot of online cash games and do pretty well but I am worried that I am too aggressive preflop. I often get all-in with hands like pocket Tens, A-Q and pocket Jacks only to find my opponent has me crushed. Am I being unlucky or is it too aggressive to jam with these hands preflop?
Jon Barrow

The cash games are tougher online these days and to win even more you should really make sure you are capable of folding a good hand when it’s beat. So many players grind their stack up for hours just to lose most of it in one hand after a marginal all-in or a call when they’re dead. In full ring these hands are in most cases an insta-muck to a 100BB shove. But, in a six-max game when you’re thinking about calling a five-bet all-in with a hand like A-Q or T-T, it’s a big advantage to have a HUD with statistics about the players that can help you make the right decision. Without any information about the opponent it’s usually better in cash games to fold and wait for a better spot.

If you have a feeling you are paying off too much preflop with the worst hand you are probably right. My best advice is to just decide to fold more often preflop when it’s a marginal situation. Don’t worry about whether you could have won the pot, just fold and be happy that you managed to play with discipline, knowing that you will win much more in the long run.

Ugly beat!

I was watching the Big One for One Drop TV show and saw the now infamous hand where Connor Drinan lost with pocket Aces versus Cary Katz’s pocket Aces! (tinyurl.com/BigBadBeat) It was brutal! What is the worst bad beat you have ever suffered and how did you take it?
Gary Fitzroy

That bad beat was insane! I don’t like to rant about bad beats but sometimes it’s really hard not to. The worst bad beat online was probably when I was all-in once with A-A vs K-K and K-K – one of the pocket Kings hit a runner-runner flush when we were deep in the Sunday Million! I play a lot so I don’t usually get affected by bad beats. What I hate more than anything is when I disconnect with a good hand in a big pot. That’s tilting…!

Crazy 888

I see you’re always promoting 888poker online but I’ve never played there before. I usually play low stakes tournaments. Are there any you’d recommend on 888poker for me and do you have any advice for playing them?
Cheryl Lane

There are some good tournaments for low stakes on 888poker. The Mega Dozen is a good Sunday tournament with a $20k GTD and a $12 buy-in. There are tournaments with good value on weekdays as well, like the $10k Monday Twins Challenge, with a $22 buy-in. My advice when you’re playing low stakes tournaments is, don’t make big bluffs! They are very overrated. The average low stakes player will often not understand what you are representing anyway. Big pots should be won with big hands! Stop bluffing and you’ll see a big upswing in your results.

Poker cribs

I keep seeing pictures of all these online wizards who have two or three massive monitors, a huge comfy chair and the most expensive PC money can buy to play poker on. I just play off a small laptop! Am I missing out by not having all this other stuff? Should I invest in better kit? What does your grinding station look like?
Matt Hames

These days most new laptops are really powerful. If you play six tables a laptop should be good enough, but if you want to play more then I’d suggest you get yourself a big screen that you can dock to the laptop. Then you can multi-table big time without any problems! And Matt, I do think it’s a good idea to buy a comfy chair too! As I travel a lot, I decided to buy the best laptop I could find, a Dell XPS15. I’ve always got this with me wherever I go, and I dock it to big screens in my grinding stations both in Gothenburg and Malta. That works well for me!

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