Another week and another insight into the routines and habits of a professional poker player, this time, the spotlight shines on the 888Poker Ambassador, Sofia Lovgren.
Sofia Lovgren is a poker polymath.
The Swedish star excels in both cash games and tournaments, and is a winner both online and live, a set of skills that are very much needed as the game gets tougher to beat.
Lovgren started out as a sponsored pro for the defunct 3D operator, PKR, before joining 888Poker as an ambassador in April 2014. Three years later, and Lovgren spends most of her time playing live cash games in the Far East, as well as spending time on the virtual felt of her beloved 888.
Let’s start at the beginning: what is your morning routine?
“I usually wake up around 11 am, eat breakfast, usually toast with ham and eggs or yoghurt or porridge with berries and nuts. I surf online for an hour and read the news and reply to emails. I go out to town for some errands or meet up with friends for lunch. Then I’ll go to the gym, do yoga, run or swim. Lately, I have taken hour massages almost every day after exercise, as it’s relatively cheap in Asia, so it’s worth it! It’s rewarding for my body and mind to relax and get in the mood to sit and play poker for many hours.”
What time of the day do you find it easier to play poker and why?
“Mostly evenings/nights! There’s more action both online and in the casino during this time. I start live cash games around 6 pm and play until 2-3am. I play online tournaments almost every Sunday since I have been focusing on cash games on weekdays. It’s very important for me to have a balance to do other things like spending time with friends. When I play too much my results go down. It’s about being in top form playing my A-game. Quality over quantity.”
Do you have defined goals for how many hands/sessions you play in a week: both live and online?
“I had a goal to play five days a week eight hours per day so far this year, and I have been in the grinding mood and have played 700 hours of live cash games this year, and I’m running quite well. Online I have played every Sunday lately on 888poker since the tournaments have been good and guarantees continue to increase since last year. I don’t have specific goals, but without any goals at all, I would be too complacent. I believe in momentum, so I’ll play more when I run well, and take breaks and play less after losing sessions.
“I believe in sitting out of a cash game when running bad because it WILL affect your mind even if you don’t think so. You’ll lose concentration sometimes and not play your A-Game. Don’t hunt losses. When you win, go get a coffee and play longer.”
Where do you play online, what types of games, and stakes?
“I play all Sunday tournaments on 888poker and $5/$10 online cash games. I also play on a couple of Asian sites.”
Same question for live?
What tools do you use when playing poker?
Do you listen to music?
“One casino played Christmas songs on repeat for eight hours a day for 30 days. I can sing fluently in Chinese now…. At home, when playing online, I listen to different music depending on my mood….usually relaxing music or club music. Right now I listen to the sounds of shuffling chips at the Rio.”
If you use a HUD then how do you use it?
“I used to play with a HUD all the time, but lately I haven’t. I have played very focused, just studying tables like in live poker.”
What system do you use for note taking?
“I’m just writing down notes when I see players play in a special or different way. If a player over bets a bluff big or for value, or 4-bet light, etc., I write it down.”
Do you have a specific routine that you go through before you begin an online poker session?
“Yes, I make sure to be well rested and eat a good dinner before. Always load up with fruits and almonds.”
Same question for a live session?
“Yes, I go to the gym, swimming pool, eat a big lunch and then get a massage to relax my mind before jumping into a cash game.”
Do you have a specific warm down routine after you have finished a session?
“I usually think through the biggest pots I played and think of how I can play it differently next time. I take notes of interesting hands I played, and then I write down stats of every cash game session. I use the “RunGood” statistic app. It’s a great app for keeping track of your live poker sessions. I always feel like a winner after watching the sunrise after poker… a McDonald’s egg and sausage muffin at 6 am after late night poker now and then is pretty sweet too. It’s the only place open this time haha.”
What do you do during the break of a live event?
“I eat. Always. I buy nuts and fruits which I can eat while playing too. Gives me energy!”
What do you eat and drink when you play?
“Preferably chips and nuts. I drink tons of water too… and a bubble tea or a cafe latte now and then. A glass of red wine for the grind on Saturday night can never go wrong.”
When you first sit down to play, how do you begin?
“I check which players are online, look at the tables, check tournament guarantees. I make sure I have enough snacks for a long night. Otherwise, I run down to the food store and stock up.”
What is your process of review? How do you improve?
“By my own experience of playing a lot. I review my game after and think through hands. I try to think creatively all the time how I can maximise profit in some hands or find spots for squeezing, stealing, bluffing, etc. for the next time. I also watch videos online and discuss some hands I play with friends. I believe one of the best ways to improve is to learn from mistakes. This goes for most things in life.”
How much of your time is spent playing versus learning?
“95% is playing lately, but I learn while playing!”
How do you know when to stop a session?
“I usually play $5/$10 or 10/$20 live cash games. I usually take a short break to eat if I run bad or bluff away a buy-in. When I’m down 2-3 buy-ins, I usually sit out and come back the next day. I take a taxi straight to the massage parlour and relax and eat a good dinner. A Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks ago at the casino, I only played for two hours and was one buy-in down after several bad beats and coolers, not a lot, but I just didn’t have a good feeling. I left the casino early to work out, get a massage, eat a ramen dinner and went home to play online instead and I won $27,000 in the Whale on 888poker. This shows how one thing can lead to something much better.”
Are you consciously trying to emulate the style of a particular player? Do you have people you look to as models for your game?
“I can’t say one specific player, but for sure many guys are doing great things in poker lately. Some guys keep winning every live tournament like Fedor. Other do great poker vlogs like Doug, Daniel and Jake. Tonkaaaa is doing a great job with his online streaming. I think they are really good and this is great for the poker community! I will do it soon as well. I’ve just been focused on my cash game paradise lately!”
Is poker easy? Does it come naturally to you?
“Yes, cash games for sure! I just love every session and love deep stack play. The feeling when I 3-Bet with 72hh preflop, a reg calls with AQ, and we see the Q8h3h flop. I tell him I have 72. I bet the flop and all in turn after getting my flush, and he calls my all in. It makes me love poker… or when you get a big bluff through on the river. Just so fun!”
When did your aspirations to become a poker player begin?
“After playing home games with my brothers and friends. My brother introduced me to online poker. I fell in love with the game. I was only 16, and my parents forbid me to play with real money. I started building a bankroll from a $2 freeroll win. 2007-2009, I was playing online in the evenings during school, and after 1-2 years of cash games and the STT grind I had built up a $60k bankroll from my freeroll win with strict BRM. After another year grinding, poker was giving me consistent income. I decided to take a break from studies after finishing high school and play poker full time.”
What is your favourite moment in poker?
“I loved watching Martin Jacobson win the WSOP Main Event!”
Do your surroundings affect your work, how?
“Yes, for sure. I believe this goes for most occupations. When you have no distractions around, it’s always easier to focus, be disciplined to work well and get things done. When I have things I need to do, I try to do that before sitting down to play, or I play worse, dreaming away thoughts on stuff other than poker.”
Was there ever a time when you didn’t want to play poker? How did you get out of the funk?
“Yes, I had some downswings of course. I always knew that I would turn it around, but it is just very frustrating and hard on your mind when the variance is against you. In 2011 I had a downswing, but kept patient and turned it around. I lost six days in a row a week in Feb in a bad way in a $10/$20, live cash game. The last two of those sessions I realised I was very affected by it and started to play a few hands bad. I bluffed off a couple $6000 and $8000 pots where I got tank called by close to the nuts. I had been playing too many days in a row, and I needed a break.
“I was frustrated and went to Bali for four days (flight was only $150 there). I spent four days with massages ($20/h), ran on the beach, like a kind of meditation. Then I went back playing live cash games again for the weekend and the first day back had my biggest winning session. The break paid off! I turned it around after a few days and was back on track grinding again.”
What WSOP routines do you have?
“This year I have decided to stay at Vdara and Rio. I’m only flying out for 2.5 weeks this time so I will have an intense schedule with tournaments these days. I’m going to meet up with friends I haven’t seen for a while and eat some good food and be ready to play long hours (hopefully lol). The plan is to party and celebrate with friends that have already won a bracelet, and I’m planning to win one too now! But that is yet to come.
“You can join my #sofiastacks competition. I will give away 2% of my winnings in each event to the player who guesses my closest chip stack after Day 1 in each tournament. If you guess 0, you’ll be automatically banned!”
More updates to come about this…
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Here is my WSOP 2017 schedule:
27th – WSOP $1,500 NLHE
29th – WSOP $5,000 NLHE
30th – WSOP $1,500 NLHE
1st – WSOP Crazy888 1a $888
3rd – WSOP $1,000 NLHE
5th – WSOP $1,500 NLHE
6th – WSOP $3,000 NLHE
7th – WSOP Ladies Event $1,000
10th – WSOP Main Event Day 1c $10,000