Sofia Lövgren and Luca Moschitta
When we put together the original list of players for our first-ever "Future Superstar" award, two names popped up over and over again.
As the award is about more than just big results -- it's about personality on-and-off the felt and a true "spirit of poker" that inspires new players to pick up the game -- opinions on who qualified varied a lot.
Virtually everybody agreed on Luca Moschitta and Sofia Lövgren, though.
One of the youngest female sponsored pros in the world, the PKR-patched Lövgren earned her way on the team a couple of years ago based on hand volume and success - not just looks - and is an inspiration to young female grinders everywhere.
Italian Moschitta - famed for claiming not one but two Porsches from FPPs alone - is a longtime SuperNova Elite working his way into the live game in Italy with a great attitude and an open ear for new players hoping to follow in his footsteps.
Put them together as a poker power couple and it's easy to see why our panelists felt the future of poker is in good hands with them carrying the torch.
PokerListings Spain's Esther Diaz Amores caught up with the two at the ongoing EPT Barcelona to talk about their great success at such a young age.
PokerListings: Young, successful, good-looking and so popular you “occupy” our PokerListings Awards with two out of three nominations for the “Future Superstar” title. Seriously, guys – do you ever think you are pushing it a little bit too much?
Inspiration to young grinders.
Lövgren: Well … It’s fun! About the awards, I have to say that having been nominated by PokerListings as “most successful young poker player” feels like an honor to me.
Moschitta: What I really liked about the award was its description. You know, there are many winners in the game out there but very few are actually a good example for it as well. So I am very glad for having been part of that.
It’s an international competition and – well – if it would have been up to me, my name would have probably not been there.
PL: Well, let’s find who your picks are then. IF you had the chance to pick someone young who did particularly good during 2012/2013, whom would you go for?
Moschitta: This is a good question, especially as – if you look at the average age, not so many young players got great results during the past year.
When I started playing I was 18 and that was the moment when a lot of players of about the same age were starting to crush the tables live and online.
If you look at it today, except for some examples like Viktor Blom, the same players who started a few years ago are today’s poker ambassadors.
Moschitta: It’s an honor because it means I did a good job.
PL: Any names stand out?
Moschitta: Paul Berende is a very good guy, a fair player and when you play against him you can definitely feel all this.
How about you, Sofia? What about your personal pick for this category?
Lövgren: I think Martin Jacobson is a very good Swedish player.
Moschitta: Yes, he is – although he is also not so young anymore.
Lövgren: You know, finding a name for this category is a hard task to do as the prize is not about winning a lot of money but about being a good ambassador for the game and to inspire other players to start playing.
PL: So, how would it feel to win the award then?
Lövgren: Actually I think I already feel like a winner because I have been nominated amongst these players. Yet, I think that when other people have expectations on your future it’s not always good.
I think that it is not what you say but what you will do that matters. The important thing is always only what you really do. If I say I am going to do something … well … it’s not until I have done it that it becomes something.
Berende another good pick, says Moschitta.
Moschitta: Even just having been picked is a very big honor to me. Again, I liked the description very much. It’s not about the money you win but it is about all the things that you have done.
During the past year I spent a lot of time off the table talking and chatting about the game with regulars and newcomers who asked me how to start with the game and now it’s an honor because it means I did a good job.
PL: Did you think we made a mistake nominating any of the people in the list?
Lövgren: All of the people there are good players, and of course it’s very motivating to be selected by people who believe in you. I work a lot on poker, this is what we do, so it’s fun and motivating. It’s easier to continue when you see that people believe in you.
PL: So, erm … did you vote for yourself?
Lövgren: I didn’t (laughs). But my family did (laughs more.
Moschitta: Also my family voted for me. (laughs)
PL: OK, enough with the PokerListings awards – I have a question for Sofia now. “Poker players are like small companies. We need to be able to change and innovate our game” – In case you missed it, we found this digging on Luca’s blog. Do you agree with him?
Lövgren: Of course. The game is developing all the time and the game is becoming better. Players who were on the .25/.50 on PKR now are done and are playing 2/4.
Players are becoming better all the time – you must develop your game to continue. You should not only think that you are unlucky if you lose.
It's what you do that matters.
You should also think about how to fix your leaks and how can you become a better poker player.
Anyone can always improve and you must really always be critical to yourself in order to become a better poker player.
PL: This idea of trying, changing and somehow even growing within the game reminds me of something Ben Sulsky said lately lamenting that too many people are now sticking to their game and not trying enough new stuff. Are you, Luca, on the same page?
Moschitta: Of course I agree, I live the game.
I stared playing six years ago or maybe even more and If I try to make a comparison between before and today … well, today it’s another game.
I feel I changed something too and I am lucky to be here because it means I made the right changes at the right time.
PL: And lately you've changed quite a bitin your poker life as well. Since your contract with PokerStars came to an end you moved from being a hardcore grinder to becoming a regular in the live scene. How has your daily life changed since then?
Moschitta: Well, I started playing live when I became 18 and I have been playing live and online at the very same time.
"You must give yourself a set goal and try to reach it, always."
I am a Supernova Elite on PokerStars and that means I played a huge amount of hands but at the same time I was playing a tournament a month, I was developing my skills for live poker.
At first I obviously wasn’t a very good player. And today I still need to improve a lot.
When you come here and you see people playing 50K tournaments you feel you want to do something more. You must do something more to become a better player because there are better players around.
You must give yourself a set goal and try to reach it, always. I think today, if you are a good online poker player, you are also a good live poker player. What you need to learn is how to be at a live table.
PL: Which means …?
Moschitta: It means learning how to understand tells. It means developing as “a person” at the table.
PL: Do you miss those daily hours-long sessions on PokerStars.it?
Moschitta: I don’t because when I feel like playing, I still play a lot online. But I took a break for couple of months. And it’s summer.
During the last four years I never really enjoyed summer because I was playing much more than now but – of course, I miss online a bit.
"I just want to play poker."
Probably I will start playing again very seriously starting from January.
PL: Sofia – you are still grinding hard on PKR. How much do still you like it?
Lövgren: Oh yes. I am going to play a lot once I am back in Sweden, a lot of 6-max cash games online.
PL: Do you see yourself doing anything else anytime soon? Anything different than just playing?
Lövgren: At the moment I see things more in the short term, and for now I just want to play poker to improve my game. I also want to continue playing live tournaments and online cash games. It’s so fun that I just want to continue.
It’s hard to see it in 10 years, I don’t know what I will be doing then.
I was planning to take one year off after high school to play full time and I became successful and got the opportunity to be a team poker pro for PKR and since then I have been playing poker full time.
I was also planning to go for a university degree but as poker is going so well I don’t want to start doing anything else, I just want to play poker.
PL: Seeing that you both come from the online world I have a question I need to ask you as I heard a lot against online players lately. The last player to talk to me about it was Irish poker icon Padraig Parkinson in Galway. He accused young online players of being very annoying when they play live, spending more time tapping on their iPhone than joining the table talk. What’s your take on that?
Moschitta: You are talking to the wrong people. Sofia and I are posting very much on social networks and these kind of things.
Padraig picking on the wrong people.
PL: Why? Why do you like that?
Moschitta: It’s not about liking it or not. We have many people following us, our families too – everyone who wants to live the tournament with us and get fresh news about the tournament.
If you spend five minutes during your game to do something on Facebook or Twitter - it’s fine. It’s also part of the job: if you want to be a professional poker player today, you must do this too. Many players get sponsored because they are active on social networks.
You have to be available for everyone, people must know you, they must follow your tournament and enjoy it with you.
PL: Yet some people still see it differently
Moschitta: it depends. If you sit at the table of a 5K tournament to watch a movie, I agree, that’s not very nice. You are not respecting the money and the table. I am fine by that.
But using your phone for five minutes to tweet something, I think it is part of the game.
PL: Poker-wise, if we opened the common EU market and allowed Swedish players to play against Italians – who do you think would win?
Lövgren: Sweden is a big country but Italy has ten times more people …
Moschitta: But Swedish players are better than Italian ones. It’s very clear.
PL: Let’s play a small game. Name three things that you love aboutf each other’s country.
Lövgren: The sea … you don’t like so much about Sweden, do you Luca?
Moschitta:: You are from Sweden, I live in Italy – we are very lucky to live in nice countries. Sweden is a nice place when you go in the summer but if you go in winter it can get easily -20 degrees. It’s another kind of life
People are very friendly, they are fair…
Lövgren: Swedes are very friendly people and very honest. You know, if you drop your phone somewhere, you have a very good chance to get it back.
Moschitta: She knows that because she lost her phone about 10 times and she always got it back.
PL: Let’s close getting back to where we started. Last time you played a big tournament in Malta, you ended up bluffing Phil Hellmuth. How about the Battle of Malta then? Would you do the same against Daniel Cates or Johannes Strassmann?
Lövgren: I love Malta for many different reasons. The climate, the food and because it’s a great place. We still need some time but we are moving there.
Next stop: Battle of Malta.
I love Malta, so I really want to play more poker there, we will see what happens there.
Luca, last time you “broke up” with PokerStars you then ended up winning an IPT title. So – what do you need to happen to make you win the Battle of Malta?
Moschitta: I just need to concentrate, to play my best … even if in poker you can’t decide when you win. In poker everything is about “the long term."
You might not get anything out of what you do now but if you are doing good, maybe you will win in one year. Yet, I know that if I do my best, I can get results.
PL: Let’s close it with a stupid prop-bet as nowadays everyone seems to be into one. Which one of you will manage to get more Facebook likes and Tweets for this interview?
Moschitta: It’s a good competition, we both have a lot of followers. I don’t know.
PL: Let’s see in Malta, guys. We will check once we will meet again at the Battle of Malta. Because you will be there, right?
Both: Yes, definitely.
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