Team PKR pro Sofia Lövgren tells how she moved from online freerolls to the chip lead in the £10,300 EPT London High Roller…
In 2008, an 18-year old Sofia Lövgren won a few dollars in an online freeroll – it was her first experience of poker. Now, five years later, she is the chip leader with two tables remaining in the £10,300 EPT London High Roller. Although she got unlucky in some major hands to eventually finish 16th – for £21,540 – it’s clear that Lövgren is a star of the future. The Swede was happy with her play in the High Roller, saying, “The best way to become a better poker player is to play great opponents, and I’d like to believe I played solid and aggressive poker throughout the tournament, and especially on day 2. Although I felt miserable at the time, knowing the first prize was £357,700, I’m happy to cash in my first High Roller. It was an important experience for me.”
From Gothenburg in Sweden, Lövgren was offered a pro contract by PKR.com after becoming known for her impressive volume and results in the site’s low and mid-stakes cash games. Given the chance to represent the brand at major live tournaments, she cashed in her first event as a Team PKR Pro, the 2010 Irish Open, though she is aware, looking back, how far she has come since then.
“I’d just turned 20 at the Irish Open, and I feel I’ve developed my live game a lot since then. In a hand where everyone thought I was tanking with J-J, I was actually just trying to count the chips! I couldn’t even shuffle them either. I realise there’s a lot more to learn, but I can say I’ve stepped up my game substantially. There’s a huge benefit to playing against players like Negreanu, ElkY and Mercier. You can only really improve by learning from better players.”
The EPT London High Roller was Lövgren’s debut in the world of big buy-in, elite field poker. Despite a cast of world-class pros the Swede was unfazed, “You find very little dead money so you can’t rely on chipping up through donations from fish. You have to play your A-game all the time, no matter which table you are seated at. Even the megarich businessmen guys have game.”
Later in the day, she was joined by Daniel Negreanu, with whom she played at EPT Barcelona earlier in the year, “Sitting next to Daniel was a great experience, he is such a positive guy. Players like him inspire me to improve, to add to my game.” Lövgren ended day 1 with 150,000, well above the 100,000 average. Returning on day 2, she was moved to the feature table where she remained cool under the heat of the studio lights.
“I’m usually not the nervous kind and I don’t feel any big pressure when I play. I don’t think about the money, I’m just trying to focus on the game.” But despite seeming a not-atypical phlegmatic Scandinavian, surely she must feel the emotion and the drama that comes with an occasion like this? “Of course it’s thrilling to be deep in a big live tournament but I’d like to believe I don’t let it change my game. I’m very much aware of the fact that one mistake can spoil an entire day’s work.”
One aspect of the Swede’s game which has changed noticeably in recent months is her table presence, with the 23-year old keen to engage her opponents in conversation at the feature table. “I feel much more comfortable playing live today than I did three years ago. I have never been scared but always a little shy, and I was also a little afraid to give away tells. Now I have more experience, and I’m the one looking for tells. But I talk at the table because I enjoy it. It’s a great chance for me to get to know interesting people from all corners of the world, and I’m very lucky to get that opportunity.” Having reached the money with 23 players remaining, she went on a tear, claiming the chip lead with two tables remaining, “I’d been close several times before at the WSOP and EPT, but never as chip leader with 16 left in a tournament of this stature.”
But a fatal blow was to come when former chip leader Carla Sabini’s nut flush draw collided with Lövgren’s overpair. A flush on the river crippled Lövgren and she busted shortly after, “From chippy to bust in 15 mins is very frustrating, but that’s poker. Busting tournament after tournament, often before the money, is part of the game and something both me and my sponsor understand. Online cash games are my bread and butter, so tournaments are a bonus. I only play around 15 a year and in the short term it’s impossible to guarantee a result. I do feel a big responsibility to PKR, both in preparing for and playing as well as possible at every tournament, and representing the brand away from the table.”
At this early stage in her high stakes career, the learning curve is still rising steeply. “I learned a couple of really good post flop moves from this event, but I’m not telling you what they are! Although I played my best poker, I also made an expensive, badly timed bluff for 60% of my stack when out of position, running into trips. I’ll skip that move next time. I’ll also never again leave the tournament venue for dinner. I took a taxi to meet Luca [Moschitta, boyfriend and IPT title holder), got stuck in traffic on the way back and blinded away 60,000 chips.”
With this result under her belt, can we expect to see Lövgren in more High Rollers, or will she focus on the softer fields found at the WSOP, for example? “Who wouldn’t love to play events like this? The game’s top names, deep stacks, room to be patient, and a short road to the money. For sure there’s a lot more dead money at the WSOP, but with huge fields and fast structures, you must be lucky too. In the long run I think WSOP events are better value, but in events like the High Roller, you can learn so much more, and that carries its own value, perhaps even greater in the long run. I also seem to play my best poker in the toughest fields.”
Lövgren’s next stop comes at the $500 PKR Live main event, from 08-10 November, a title she would dearly love to win. You can find out more details, and buy-in to the event at PKR.com.
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