Team PKR Pro Sofia Lövgren is one of the hottest players on the European circuit right now. We caught up with the talented Swede to find out her story
Despite great strides in recent years poker is still a male-dominated game, especially at the highest levels. Any woman that enters an EPT event or a high roller is subject to far more camera flashes and scrutiny of their play than a random male player is. It’s tough to make it in poker as a woman but Sofia Lövgren is one example of a player that stands out from the pack.
An online cash game pro for four years, she has moved up from playing freerolls all the way to $5/$10 games with a $1,000 buy-in, proving that there is more to this Swedish 23-year-old than meets the eye. Now firmly established as the marquee pro on PKR.com’s team, Lövgren regularly plays on the EPT circuit and was a coin flip away from final tabling the recent EPT London high roller event. PokerPlayer sat down with the poker world’s newest female star to hear about her burgeoning career.
How and when did you first start playing poker?
Sofia Lövgren: I’m from Gothenburg, Sweden and always played a lot of sports as a kid like sailing, skiing, soccer and golf. I first played poker when I was 17 and in high school. I loved it but my parents wouldn’t let me play with real money so I won some cash in freerolls and started grinding the lowest cash games possible. I ended up turning $1 into $5,000 in a year!
What did your friends and family think when you started playing?
I was studying at high school and playing a lot of poker in the evenings, and I was winning. I did have plans to go to university to study economics but poker was giving me a good income so I decided to play full time. Some of my friends thought it was very cool and some of them thought it was very strange! That was three and a half years ago and I’m still here… Right now I feel like I’m living my dream travelling the world playing poker. I’m still only 23-years-old and I have a great opportunity right now, it just feels right.
What stakes were you playing when you turned pro?
I was only playing $100NL full ring cash games on PKR! Nobody plays full ring now but it was actually a big help when I converted to playing live tournaments because it had taught me how to be patient. For the last two years though, I have only played six-max online and at stakes up to $5/$10.
PKR made you a Team Pro in 2010. How did that come about as it was still very early in your poker career?
When PKR first contacted me I had been playing full time for around one and a half years. I did a few interviews for their magazine Stacked and once they offered me the pro contract I jumped at the chance. I hadn’t even thought about playing in live tournaments before that and I’d never played in Sweden. I had no idea what to expect but it was all very exciting and everyone was so kind when they welcomed me to the team. I was expecting to get a lot of criticism [because I was so new to poker] but everyone in the PKR community is so nice that I didn’t really get any.
You’ve always been very media friendly and been keen to do interviews. Is this a side of the sponsorship that you really enjoy?
Yeah, I think it’s really fun. I can’t guarantee to make the cash in every tournament I play due to variance, but I can always guarantee to try to do my best to be a good ambassador.
You’re now playing lots of big live tournaments like EPT main events and high rollers. How are you finding the transition from online poker?
I’ve played so much more online but my live game is developing all the time. Also, it’s really nice when you play big tournaments and play against the best players in the world. I think that’s the best way to improve as a poker player.
At the recent EPT London £10,000 high roller you were the chip leader late on and eventually finished 16th for £21k. How was that whole experience for you?
It was very exciting, the best players in the world are there and you have big starting stacks so there is more room to play and be patient. [The other players knew I hadn’t played a high roller before so] I was expecting them to run over me and play against me more than they did. I felt like I managed at times to play at the same level. I was playing very aggressively but to be honest I thought it was going to be tougher!
Did you play any interesting hands?
I had a great start in the tournament – very early on I raised with A♠-J♠ and a businessman called. There were two spades, I bet and he called. The turn brought my flush, I bet again and he raised. He’d made the same raise before when he had it so I knew he wasn’t bluffing this time and expected him to have a flush too. I just called and check-raised all-in on the river. He called and then there was a lot of swearing! He said he had a flush too but didn’t show his cards. I also made a very badly timed all-in bluff versus top set! I think I’ll skip that move next time…
Which players in the tournament really impressed you?
Philipp Gruissem. I was very impressed with his game, but he is crazy! It’s a totally crazy style where he can lose his whole stack and a few minutes later he is chip leader.
So where did it all go wrong?
Well, I was the chip leader and [the only other female player] Carla Sabini opened. I had pocket Queens but she was folding to three-bets a lot so I decided to just call with my Queens, hoping other people would squeeze. It was a Ten-high flop with two hearts and I check-raised her and we got all the money in. She had A♥-7♥ and hit the flush on the river. Maybe I should have played it a different way and secured a final table, but without the river I would have been a huge chip leader going into the final. I was knocked out the next hand.
You’ve been very loyal to PKR and have been with them for nearly four years. You’re bound to get offers from bigger sites in the future so what do you think will happen?
I love PKR, they are my poker family and I think it’s normal to be loyal to your family.
What are your ambitions for 2014?
I want to continue to play cash games online and travel around and play live tournaments. Right now I’m living a dream to travel around the world and play poker, it’s what I love. So I hope to continue as long as possible doing that. Me and my boyfriend [fellow poker pro] Luca Moschitta are moving to Malta too. It’s a great place to invest in with a nice climate and nice people. It’ll be fun!
Lovgren in lights
Cash game pro Sofia Lovgren talks a good game but can she play well too? Judge for yourself – Sofia stars in this $5/$10 TV cash game featuring EPT champ Vladimir ‘Beyne’ Geshkenbein and PokerPlayer strategy writer Simon Hemsworth
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