Roberto Romanello: How to move up in stakes and keep winning

EPT and WPT champ Roberto Romanello is here to solve YOUR poker dilemmas!

Baby steps

I regularly play low-stakes MTTs and often finish in the top 1%, making very few errors along the way. However when I increase the buy-in to take a shot at a bigger prizepool, I find myself playing with the fear of losing. Should you ignore how much it costs to buy-in and play the same or even tighter – it seems most other players do this in higher stakes MTTs? – Dave Allen
If you are obviously a winning player at low-stakes and then playing differently when you play higher stakes it’s not good. You’ve got to keep doing what you were doing right, and keep playing your game.
My advice is to keep that in mind and keep playing at the stakes you are doing well at. Now and again, try to play in a bigger buy-in tournament but don’t just jump into higher games all the time. Take a few shots, but keep playing small tournaments at the same time to lower your variance. Once you start doing well consistently at higher stakes games you can move up permanently. Play 90% of the games you regularly win at and spend just 10% playing in higher stakes games – work your way up slowly until you are comfortable.

Chipping away

Can you give some advice on how to chip up from the chip shop to playing in events like the EPT? – John @Dodgy007
I’ve worked in fish and chip restaurants all my life since I left school. It’s always been good to me and we’ve done well out of it. In poker, I started playing in local casinos and gradually worked my way up to the EPTs but one thing I have always done is keep my feet on the ground and go back to work in the restaurant every time I come home. That was even when I was sponsored by Full Tilt and playing at the highest level.
This keeps my game at its best. I never play afraid because I always know I have something to go back to. If you’ve got a good, solid job there’s nothing wrong with playing poker alongside your work. When times go bad you need something to fall back on. It keeps your confidence high.


I did really well in cash games online in 2012 but have had a terrible 2013 so far, losing or breaking even on most of the months. I can’t work out what I’m doing wrong and am losing confidence in my game. What advice do you have for getting my swagger back? – James Evans
If you’re doing too much of something sometimes it will get a bit stale. I would advise you to take a step back from online and play around 20% of your normal volume. Play some live cash in local casinos or tournaments to mix it up. If you’re a good internet player you should be able to adapt to a live game until you get your confidence back.
You are going to get these runs in poker. You have to be extremely blessed to run good all the time. You can either ride it out, take a break or play different games but your confidence will come back – it’s just variance.

Bad, bad Boris

Have you played much poker with famous people from outside the game – like sports stars or actors? Who were they and were they any good? – Robbie Maskin
R: When I first came on the scene I remember playing in a big cash game with Teddy Sheringham. It was €10/€25 and I was quite honoured to be sat next to him. We got talking and I remember he was a very good player, I was impressed. I could tell he really enjoyed poker and respected the game. I think the money means something to him – you must have respect for money. More important than that, it felt to me that he wanted to prove he could play and that he wasn’t a fish.
I’ve also played in an EPT when Boris Becker first came on the scene and it was the complete opposite, he was shocking! He was a completely dead €5k in the prizepool. Saying that, I played with him two years later, at a recent EPT, and his game had improved a lot. He is now much more solid. People can learn quickly in poker.

Good reader

How do you like to play hands like 8-8 and 9-9 when you face a three-bet and will be out of position for the rest of the hand? Typically, I play cash games so the stacks are a bit deeper than late in a tournament. – Joe Grainger
If I’m very deep in a tournament my play is standard and I’ll peel here to try and hit a set. If I don’t hit I’ll go with my live tells and reads for the rest of the hand. If I was short and my opponent was deeper I will make a decision either  o shove in or fold when three-bet. I’d never just call the three-bet. It’s the same vice-versa, if he is short and I am quite deep. Go with live tells.

Pick and mix

I’m getting a bit bored of hold’em. What game do you think I should learn next? – Fraser Henry
R: The first game I learned outside of hold’em was six-card Omaha. We only ever play that now and some other mixed games like Super Stud. Going from hold’em to this is so exciting! I couldn’t wait to play in these cash games every week. I think any Omaha game is really good fun when you come from a hold’em background. The variance is very swingy though!
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