As the players in the final table all grouped together for a pre final table photograph there were smiles all around. As soon as the dealer flicked the first card across the table those smiles vanished and the serious action began. One person who was trying to maintain a happy vibe was Roberto Romanello but he was in a minority of one!
It was obvious from the off that the way that Romanello went about his business was not approved by his peers. This gave the room an awkward edge but it was fantastically suspenseful and produced some wonderful spots.
It started off like a house on fire when Jesper Hoog fired a three-barrel bluff into Mayu Roca. Roca stood solid and called all three-streets and immediately started to make up the ground on Romanello. Not long after, Romanello got a bluff through the local home town boy Lubomir Kudlicka. Kudlicka did a lot of damage in that hand and was eliminated a few hands later when his top pair hit Alexander Jager’s set.
The departure of Kudlicka meant Marek Tatar was the only Slovakian left in the field. Tatar played such a tight waiting game and then stunned us all by getting it all-in against Mayu Roca holding . Suffice to say Tatar’s hand didn’t hold up and he was eliminated in 8th place.
Party Poker Team Pro Bodo Sbrzesny’s moment came when he won a flip against Jesper Hoog to put him right into contention with a stack of 800,000. Then Romanello had the entire table in anger after verbally declaring he was “all-out” during a hand against Chris Williamson. The Dealer gave Romanello a warning and Sbrzesny made a point of asking the Welshman not to do it again. Then Sbrzesny got himself into a wonderful spot when he found pocket queens on the button but he ran straight into the pocket kings of Mayu Roca and he was eliminated in 7th place.
Romanello and Mayu then clashed for the first time and it was Mayu who came out on top when he rivered a flush and got a 120,000 bet out of the usually stingy Welshman. He recovered his composure and only minutes later he was responsible for eliminating Chris Williamson in 6th place. It was a fantastic pre flop tension filled blockbuster resulting in an all-in. The pocket queens of Romanello holding off the challenge put forward by the ace-king of Chris Williamson.
After Williamson left the building we were left with Hoog, Dollinger and Jager playing for third place. Each player took their turn to move their 15-20bb stacks across the line until eventually Roca called Hoog and once again the Colombian had the cowboys and Hoog became our 5th place finisher.
Frank Dollinger and Alexander Jager both qualified for this event playing online on Party Poker. They finished 1st and 2nd in that satellite and here they were, sat side-by-side, in the final four of 211 players – what a story! Jager won that satellite and he would also out-last Dollinger here at the real deal. Dollinger going out as our 4th place finisher after his shove was called by Jager holding – Dollinger winning €33,000 for his efforts.
The three-way action only lasted a few hands. Romanello raised Jager from the small blind with , Jager three-bet from the big with and Romanello moved all-in and Jager called. The flop was as low as a World Champion Limbo Dancer and Jager departed to leave Roca and Romanello to fight it out for the top spot. It was an important top spot as well because a Romanello win would send him into the WSOP on the quest for the coveted Triple Crown.
It was a fitting heads up encounter because without a shadow of a doubt the top two guys made it through the field of 211 players that started. Here is the final hand straight of the live blog.
Roca raised to 90,000 and Romanello three-bet to 255,000. Roca counted out a four-bet of 590,000 and before he moved, it everyone ran to the rail in anticipation. He moved it forward and Romanello immediately declared he was all-in. Roca called and everyone invaded the table.
“Have you got a pair?” Asked Romanello
“No.” Said Roca.
“Its a race.” He shouted and clapped his hands.
James Akenhead and Andrew Feldman grabbed hold of Romanello and hugged him. They were willing the board to stay clear of any ace or king. Roca’s friends were surrounding the Colombian also and both players would have been deserved winners.
The place went wild and Romanello, who promised he wouldn’t cry, lost it. It was like he had just watched King Kong, Lassie, The Champ and Bambi all on the trot.
How I didn’t cry I will never know.
So Roberto Romanello heads off to Vegas as a potential Triple Crown winner after winning EPT Prague only a few short months ago. Not bad for a lad from South Wales who used to run a chip shop.
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WPT Bratislava Final Table picture gallery