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From the perspective of the poker fan, the life of Roberto Romanello looks pretty good right now. The Welsh wonder is currently ranked number one in the UK & Ireland Global Poker Index (GPI) rankings; number 16 in the world, and he has just returned to the UK after a five-week spell that saw him make the final table of a World Series of Europe (WSOPE) event, in addition to deep runs in both European Poker Tour (EPT) legs in Barcelona and San Remo. We caught up with Romanello to find out how he spends his time when he is back home in the land of song and sheep.

Lone Traveler

“I have just arrived home after a five week stretch in Europe that ended with a great trip to San Remo. After Matchbook dropped the boys I have been traveling a lot on my own, but in San Remo it was like old times with Chris Sly, Ben Vinson, Martins Adeniya and Sam Trickett all turning up. We played during the day and ended up in the bars in the night…plenty of banter. Chris Sly went and won the Omaha and I was so pleased for him. He won fifty bags and we all had a little piece, which was nice. I went deep again in the main event but nothing materialised. I was still proud that I cashed again though. I was then approached by Bryn Kenney, Salman Behbehani and Johnny Lodden who wanted to buy pieces of my action in the €10,000 High Roller. That was a nice feeling for me, to have good players approaching me for action. I decided to sell 50% and went ahead and played the event, but Benny Spindler busted me. The exit hand was pretty disappointing, but Spindler went on to win it so at least he did something good with my chips.”

Has Romanello played any poker since he has been back home in Wales?

“I have played twice live this week, both times in my local game in the Grosvenor in Swansea. Boy, did I get a reality check on Tuesday night. I have been winning all over Europe then I come home – and the game is pretty big now in Swansea – and they battered me. I lost £3,800 in a session that ran between 20:00 and 06:00 before running home with my tail between my legs.

The game is £2/2 with a compulsory £5 straddle. But that’s only half the story. There is always a £20 straddle and every now and then it gets as high as £80. We play Dealers Choice (DC) and the games we play include six-card Pot-Limit Omaha (PLO), six-card PLO Hi/Low Split, Super Stud, Super Stud with a Spit and Double Flop. I love DC. It’s a high variance game but if you run well you can win lots of money.

We had seven players in the game on Tuesday night. All true characters of the game. There is Mad Marco who is fxxking crazy when he is losing. When he is winning he one of the best six-card PLO players I have ever sat down with, but when he is losing he is officially the worse player I have ever played with. Such a high variance style, its unbelievable. Then you have Ranna who is a moaning bitch when he is losing. He always delivers good banter and is great to have around the table. Jason Hassan is another character: one word – mental. Wants to see every single flop. Loves the game. One of the richest men in Swansea, but never moans, always happy and smiling whether he is winning or losing. Like I said, these boys are the true characters in the game. “

How much does Romanello usually sit down with in his home game and is he playing for fun or is he working?

“We do really enjoy it. I will say I have always loved going down there and the game didn’t used to be that big. You could win £2k and that would be a good score. But these days your good scores are anywhere between £4-8k. The pressure is coming down on people at the moment. I have always taken my losses on the chin and with grace, I never moan and groan. But I have noticed the game has gotten bigger and it’s starting to hurt people. You can feel the tension at the table. You have less fun and see the change in some people. I don’t like to see it because they have become my friends. But we do get some strangers in the game and you have to take it professionally. Its somewhere I can relax and play a different game but I do have to take it more seriously these days.

You can either sit down with £200 or £500, it depends how many players we have and who they are. You need to bring at least £3-4k with you. Marco did £7k the other night, for example. I enjoy it when I come home. The DC is refreshing for me, especially when I am grinding hold’em all the time. It’s normally a Thursday night, but now the game has gotten bigger they are also playing Tuesday’s as well. In fact, I am heading to the game as soon as we have finished this interview. Try to win some of my money back.”

Coming Up In Part 2

In Part 2 we ask Romanello to go through his favourite hand of the week, and find out what else he gets up to when he isn’t at the tables.

Lee Davy is a writer from Ogmore Vale in South Wales. You can follow his views and opinions through his blog or on Twitter.


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